Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holiday Survival Guide | Things to do! | Inspiring families

By Melanie Heimburg, Dandelion

Tips + tricks to make spirits bright this holiday season for parents of kids with special needs

The truth is, the holiday season can be stressful for any family. At some point, striving for the picture-perfect holiday gives way to just trying to make it to January 1 without pouts on the kids'—hopefully clean—faces and an extra 10 pounds on your thighs (I'm looking at you, pumpkin pie).

It's also true that our families are far from typical. So, instead of attempting picture-perfect or barely scraping by, let's remind ourselves that it's okay to create traditions that fit our own needs. It's okay to take it all at your own pace and do things your own way—you'll probably make spirits brighter when you do.

Here's a few tips that will bring joy to your world this holiday season:

Deck the Halls

While twinkling lights and the cheerful noise of carols delight many, people with special needs may interpret these seasonal mainstays differently.

"Change can be difficult," says Elizabeth Sautter, speech language pathologist and the director of Communication Works in Oakland. "For example, coming home to a newly decorated house might be confusing or frustrating."

Don't ditch the decorations just yet. Elizabeth suggests taking baby steps: try putting a few sensory-friendly decorations out and slowly building. Better yet, involve your children in the decorating process—this way they can let you know how they feel throughout the process, and they feel like they have some control in the situation. Elizabeth adds, "When decorating your house for the holidays, it is importnat to know what your family member(s) can handle, and not to go overboard with decorations that might make them feel overwhelmed.

Consider keeping family heirlooms stashed and using holiday toys instead. This way, children can touch and even play with the decorations, and there's no chance Aunt Sofie's porcelain reindeer will suffer a tragedy.

Read more HERE.
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