Christmas is a fun time of the year but it can come with its challenges for neurodivergent people. Here are some of our top tips to make the festive celebrations easier on you and your family!
- Plan ahead
The Christmas holidays can be filled with so many opportunities to socialise, go places and experience new things. Planning ahead is the key to success as it gives your neurodivergent individual chance to prepare for events, you can explain what you are doing and familiarise them with what to expect.
It also enables you to prioritise the things that are most to important to the whole family so you can keep everyone happy.
Once you’ve planned the schedule use visuals or photos to show your ND person where they are going, what they will be doing and who they will see so they feel prepared.
Although, the planning phase can start nice and early, you might not want to share the plans with your ND loved-one until closer to the time if they are likely to get anxious or over-excited about the events.
2. Maintain some routine
During the holidays, the days often merge into one another and its easy to lose all sense of routine with the different events, meals and timings. Plus, the changes to surroundings with all the decorations can be unsettling for some. Many neurodivergent people thrive on routine and it can be important to try keep some of their normal schedule going if you can.
3. Incorporate sensory activities
If your loved one has activities or games they like to do that keep them regulated then you can incorporate those into the festive events.
At SensationALL we use crafts and sensory tools to help individuals stay balanced so we recommend having a sensory bag or toolkit on hand wherever you go to use as needed. It could include fidget toys, favourite games, cosy blankets or clothes – whatever your loved one likes!
Also, remember sensory regulation could come from things like tight hugs, relaxation exercises or active calming from a physical game involving running, jumping or dancing. Some children might feel calmer when given a specific task so getting them to participate in jobs or activities that have a tangible end goal can be useful.
4. Have fun!
The most important thing is to enjoy yourselves and the best way to do that is by avoiding setting unachievable goals!!
Don’t over commit to attend events or see people if it is going to be too much. Agree as a family what is most important this festive period and just do those things. If seeing people in large groups is too overwhelming, spread out family visits over a few occasions or maybe only stay for a short period of time. Set your boundaries and don’t feel bad for sticking to them.
It doesn’t matter if your version of Christmas looks different to other people’s – do what is right for your family and don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly according to your plans.
Whatever your Christmas looks like have a wonderful time and we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year!
Merry Christmas from SensationALL!