Christmas is always such a magical time. It is filled with wonder and excitement, and the holiday reaches almost every aspect of our culture – inside and outside the home. The stores are filled with Christmas displays, Christmas lights are on almost every home, Christmas trees lit up and covered in breakable ornaments, holiday music playing just about everywhere you go, and even schools are doing holiday crafts. Everywhere you go, there is something to appeal to the senses.
For some individuals all of this excitement, late-night parties, school breaks, and spontaneous schedule changes can be fun, but for children with sensory issues or anxiety, it can be a real challenge during this time of year. Sensory overload can lead to a variety of behaviors like more frequent meltdowns, aggressive behavior, or even withdrawal from activity.
This year during your Christmas morning or days leading up to it, here are some ways you can reduce your child’s anxiety and/or sensory overload:
Stick to One Activity a Day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you are doing too many things in one day. This means if you are going to a party at the grandparents, maybe skip looking at Christmas lights on the way home and save that for another night.
Schedule Down Time. It is important to have a day of rest after a day of activity. Schedules will already be in disarray and a little more activity will be happening than normal.
Healthy Eating. It is even more important when schedules and senses are all out of whack that you make sure diet is in check. Make sure that you are feeding your child well-balanced healthy meals so they aren’t overloaded on sugar, too.
Gifts. Clothing is a very popular gift at Christmas. During Christmas, your child needs familiarity and a new fabric or pattern could increase sensory overload at a very stressful time, so clothing may need to be on the “no” list for Christmas gifts.
Bring a “Familiar Kit”. Bring your child’s favorite foods and toy items with you during Christmas gatherings. If they get overwhelmed by new items, you can bring your kit out; they will be surrounded by their favorite items and they will appreciate the familiarity and routine.
Santa Visits. Make sure to check your local malls for “sensory Santas”. The music is low, children can move around as they like, and they modify the activity to help your child enjoy their Santa visit based on their needs.
Bedtime. The ever-important bedtime! It is very important that if anything, make sure your child still receives a good night sleep, and if at all possible, schedule your day around their bedtime routine so that is still intact. It will help the next day!
It takes a village! Find community with local parents, support groups, Facebook communities, or other local organizations. Email us, or join us online: Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – we’d love for you to connect with us!
Local Events & Resources
Nutcracker with Peninsula Ballet Theater – Fox Theater
Thursday, December 14, 7:00pm (time subject to change)
2215 Broadway, Redwood City
Peninsula Ballet invites families with autism and related disabilities to the full dress rehearsal for their spectacular performance of the classic ballet, “The Nutcracker”.
This is a sensory-friendly, “shush-proof” event!
A very special dress rehearsal event for our special needs audience!
Free with optional donation to the Pacific Ballet Theater.
San Francisco Ballet Sensory Friendly Family Workshop
Sunday December 17, 1:00-2:00pm
SF Ballet Building – 455 Franklin Street, San Francisco
A special opportunity specifically for families with children with autism or related disorders. Excerpts from SF Ballet’s Nutcracker, plus, interactive dance component with Miss Kristi, in-studio performances, photos with dancers, free autographed posters, pre-visit social stories guide, activity room and quiet room.
$10 Suggested Donation
Santa is coming! Did you know you could track where Santa is on Christmas Eve? It is super fun to track how close Santa is the night before Christmas, and even more fun to show the kids. We’ve found some really cool apps and a fun website where you can track his whereabouts until Christmas Day.
SantaTracker.com – On December 24th, you can start tracking Santa on Google’s website dedicated to telling you and your kids exactly where Santa is at all times! Better get to bed before he gets to your house!
Santa Tracker for iPhone – The NORAD Tracks Santa App is the official mobile app of the NORAD Tracks Santa program. Watch the days countdown to Santa’s flight, follow Santa’s progress on December 24, play “Thin Ice” to help Santa’s elves deliver presents, and learn about NORAD and its mission.
Santa Tracker for Android – Play games with elves in jetpacks, rolling gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets and many more. Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa in his journey around the world.
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