Christmas-tree
Christmas…. a time for giving, celebration and of course Santa. Its also a time for spending time with friends and family!!

Whilst visiting friends and relatives and attending parties and social gathering can be fun, it can be stressful and anxiety provoking for children with autism, disabilities, sensory or attentional difficulties. Not knowing what to expect at these gatherings, who will be there, bumping into people, being asked for hugs and loud noises, music and crowds are all things that might cause a child with any of the above difficulties to go into meltdown.

So what should you do, stop attending any Christmas functions, might be tempting and in some cases practical at times. However there are things you can do assist your child to prepare for these gatherings and possible get through without a meltdown.

advent
Use advent calendars: If your child needs preparation for Christmas and Christmas Day an advent calendar is the perfect way to count them into Christmas.

Let them know what to expect : Like telling a story about where you are going and who will be there. It may be as simple as reminding your child about a similar event last year and talking through who was there and what happened. If you have pictures of family members they haven’t seen in a year or more perhaps showing your child a picture of Aunty Mary and explaining that Aunty Mary loves to hug everyone will at least help your child know what to expect from everyone. If you know someone has a particularly loud voice/ laugh or something your child may become distressed by let them know. For some children a pictorial story (social story) might help them to cognitively rehearse what to expect at these social gatherings.

Provide a schedule for Christmas Day and the events leading up to Christmas: Giving your child a visual calendar (with pictures of they can’t read) can help them get ready for all the Christmas festivities and relieve any anxieties associated with this time of year

Pre arrange a safe quiet place: Having somewhere safe to go away from the bulk of the noise and people will enable your child to take a break when they need it. You might need to make sure family and friends know that your child might need this time and could they please respect their needs.

quiet-space
Take an ipad/ headphones or something that can help your child focus away from the noise of the party: This way when it gets too much they can pop on their headphones/ ipad, play non messy craft, stimming devices, weighted blankets etc and escape whilst they wind down. Yes it might appear a little anti social to people who don’t understand but its better than having a meltdown. Try explaining to people briefly that your child needs a break from all the festivities.

Take your child comfort toy: If your child has favourite calming toy or app make sure that you take this as well. This can be a distraction or redirection to them to the familiar. Christmas is full of so many changes that having something familiar around can really help.

Consider a play buddy for your child : If there is a child, possibly an older relative who will play quietly with yoru child when they need a break, pre arrange with thsi child what they might like to play with yoru child to assist.

Prepare your child for touch and social interactions: If your child does not like touch or is overwhelmed by sensory touch it is a good idea to prepare them for relatives or friends who might want to hug or kiss them. Where possible explain these relatives how this might upset your child and request they greet in another way. This is not always possible though so it is good to explain to child that people may want to hug or kiss them, give them some ideas about what they can if this happens. If they really don’t like hugs suggest they give a high five.

Finally if your child has meltdown try to remain relaxed and calm, its not a reflection on you as a parent it’s a reflection on the environment, noise, and expectations Christmas puts on children.

keep-calm-Xmas
Do what you can to reduce the noise, and the amount of people around them and be in tune to what in the environment might be distressing them, lights, Christmas tree decorations etc and finally consider putting yourself in your child’s shoes and then meeting their needs with the wisdom of a parent. Try to not to show your distress or anxiety as this will only communicate to your child that there is a need to be anxious if you are.

Most of all take some time out for yourself, Christmas can be a wonderful time of year it can also be overwhelming for parents. Finally Happy Holidays!!!

Related Articles

As a multidisciplinary team our specialists provide Therapy Services such as psychology, speech and occupational therapy for all stages of a person’s life.

Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Autism
5 min read

MEDICATIONS AND AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER

A number of medications are used for the management of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in conjunction with therapeutic intervention. Medications have been proven to have effects on irritability, hyperactivity, and repetitive behaviours…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Diagnosis
5 min read

AVOIDING MISDIAGNOSIS IN OUR CHILDREN

The overlap of symptoms between different disorders can be confusing for parents, and at times therapists!!!. When understanding the complexity of this it is important to realise that different therapists receive training…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Autism
5 min read

WHAT IS PRAXIS?

What is Praxis and Dyspraxia? Put simply, you may have been told you that your child has difficulties with motor planning (planning movements) which involves planning what to do and how to…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
First Steps
5 min read

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is classified as a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder. What this means is it is lifelong and relates to the development of the brain. Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised by difficulties…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
First Steps
5 min read

Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Parents frequently ask “What are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?” and unfortunately we can’t always give a straight answer. Autism isn’t like most diagnoses where your child will display symptoms x,…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Autism
5 min read

How To Implement Routines Effectively

What are routines and why are they important? Routines are an integral component to preparing for and attending school. Routines enable children to anticipate what happens next and gives them a great…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Social Skills
5 min read

How can Speech therapy help my child?

How can a Speech Pathologist  help your child with communication difficulties? Communication, what does it mean…when we talk about communication difficulties, we aren’t just referring to verbal language, or helping a child…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong

Autism Eligibility for NDIS

  There has been a lot of confusion around the Autism diagnosis and eligibility for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The recent “accidental” change to the operational guidelines by the NDIA…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Autism
5 min read

Learning to Identify our Moods

By Deni Fowle – Senior Psychologist This has been a recent topic of conversation both in the clinic and in my home. I am currently working with a few 11-12 year old…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

What are school readiness skills?

  ‘School readiness’ measures a child’s development in knowledge, skills and behaviours that collaboratively enable children to participate effectively and succeed in the school environment. Often parents believe that school readiness refers…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Children and Gaming

With the World Health Organisation adding Gaming Disorder into the International Classification of Diseases Edition 11 the gaming world has gone into chaos, and frustration. Rest assured this does not mean that…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

REGULATING ATTENTION

  Sometimes we can have difficulty keeping our attention focused. But did you know that our attention is actually resource limited? That’s why it can be hard to do two things at…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Fussy Eating: When is it a Problem?

  Many parents will have difficulty trying to get their children to eat a range of different foods. Children will often have favourite foods and food preferences which can result in parents making a meal that is…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Reading Difficulties

Reading difficulties can occur for a wide range of reasons and can affect people of all ages. Reading is important for: learning new words developing language understanding learning about the world developing…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Getting Prepared for the School Year

  Returning to school and work in the new year and the transition that this requires can be a difficult task, especially when managing the transition of multiple family members.   The challenges of returning to school and work can include…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Managing Transitions

We have all found it challenging in one way or another when something unexpected happens or didn’t go our way. These situations can lead to feelings of frustration, fear and even anxiety.…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

The Art of Waiting – Children

We live in a world that is all about convenience such that advances in technology have allowed immediate access to diverse foods, knowledge, social interactions, money, television shows and music without ever…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Morning Routines

A strong morning routine sets you up for a productive day resulting in more wins and a sense of accomplishment. A structured morning helps to reduce stress and more wins help to…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Speech versus Language Disorder

  There are so many terms used for different communication disorders; it can be very confusing! Let’s break some of it down for you…   Speech à the way we use sounds to make words.  Language à the choice of…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Regulating Attention 

Throughout our day-to-day lives, people are faced with a barrage of information and distractions. This barrage can take the shape of sensory information from external stimuli, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, changes in temperature,…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Our COVID Response

Real Therapy Solutions  COVID Response Strategies  Like everyone else, Real Therapy Solutions is adjusting to the new world requirements with COVID 19. Our commitment is to ensure that all our clients receive high-quality support and therapy…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Sleep and Mental Health

People often talk about sleep and how important it is for our body to function, especially brain function. If we have poor sleep for long periods of time, it’s harder to think,…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Preparing for a Happy Easter

School holiday times are lots of fun – especially when they involve chocolate, Easter egg hunts, and hot cross buns! But holiday times can be stressful too. Being out of normal routine can be difficult,…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Transitioning to Solids

Transitioning to solid foods is a big and exciting milestone for babies and parents and most times it goes very smoothly. However, at times this may be difficult due to many underlying reasons and especially if…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Managing Anxiety

What is anxiety?   Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety…
Read More
Therapy Services Sydney & Wollongong
Uncategorised
5 min read

Regulating Attention 

Throughout our day-to-day lives, people are faced with a barrage of information and distractions. This barrage can take the shape of sensory information from external stimuli, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, changes in temperature,…
Read More
Menu
Translate Language»