When there is a holiday and the normal daily routine changes, kids with sensory processing disorder, autism or kids that generally operate and crave consistency can find this time to be challenging. Adjusting to a “lack” of routine or structure can be difficult and cause “behavioural” problems or discontent in the family.
Thinking ahead of time and preparing children for the holidays and planning structured or organized activities is the team’s tip. By preparing and scheduling activities your child will feel more confident about what’s coming up over the holidays and may help to reduce the “meltdowns” or just help kids feel in control with the daily routine.
- Plan your activities ahead of time and have a holiday schedule. Build in a combination of activities that includes outdoor and indoor play, quiet-time activities and days with friends.
- Get your kids to make their own schedule and decorate or personalize their schedule to make it fun and engaging.
- Choose comfortable clothing for outings – any clothing with “scratchy” or “itchy” tags, tassels and seams can be annoying and can increase sensitivity across the day. What may feel ok at the start of the day may gradually not be tolerated by the end.
- If you are attending busy, noisy gatherings or events consider taking noise cancelling headphones or ‘ear defenders’. Particularly for children that tend to be auditory defensive.
- Take a backpack containing fidget items and/or weighted products. The weight of the backpack can also double as sensory strategy placing deep through the shoulders (make sure it is a supportive backpack though!).
- If going on a special outing, let the child know ahead of time. Looking at pictures of who will be there, what you’ll be doing and what you are likely to see. This helps the child feel more confident and in control.
- Set specific timeframes for activities and have an “opt-out” space available; a place for the child to retreat to, should they start to feel overwhelmed or overloaded by the activity. Particularly useful in environments that are noisy, busy or bustling with other children.
- Hoodies can also help children who are visually over stimulated by busy environments.
This information is of a general nature only and does not constitute advice to a child or carer’s particular circumstances. Tip sheets are not intended to replace professional therapy services.
If you have any questions or would like additional information contact Grace Children’s Therapy on 1300 760 779.