Top Christmas Tips For Families With A Child With Disability And Special Needs

Christmas is a magical time of year but for some families, like ours, having a child with disability and special needs adds challenges to the holiday season.  We’ve found that planning is the key to everyone having a great day.
1. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Plan ahead. Think about possible behaviour triggers for your child and have a plan to avoid these or deal with them should they occur.

2. Gift buying

It can be difficult to find an appropriate gift for a child with special needs, particularly if you have a friend or relative who only sees the child a couple of times a year. Help friends and family by providing a list of the child’s interests and some gift ideas in varying price ranges.

3. Routine

Christmas Day is usually a time when routine is thrown out the window. If your child with Disability thrives on routine, maintain as much of this as you can.Make sure your child knows what to expect from the day. Prepare a visual schedule if this will help them better adapt to the change in routine.

4. Food

If you are having Christmas lunch at someone’s house, don’t be afraid to take your own food for your child with Disability. If your child doesn’t enjoy a traditional Christmas lunch, let them have their favourite food. What does it really matter if they have chicken nuggets or a peanut butter sandwich? This flexibility will save everyone stress and make lunchtime more relaxing for you as a parent.

5. Time out

If your child finds lots of people, lack of routine and the general Christmas hype too much, factor in giving them some space and downtime. Set up an activity in a quiet area and allow them to enjoy Christmas in their own way.

6. Divide and conquer

One parent shouldn’t be doing it all and missing out on the fun.  Discuss with your partner before the event how the day will run. If you need to assist your child to eat or play, take turns.

7. Inclusion

It can be tough if your child is non-verbal for them to be included in conversations around the table. Take some photos of things they like, either in a small photo album or on a device so they can share them with others. It helps family members and friends engage your child and it provides an ice breaker.Kids generally flit from one thing to another quickly and by the time our son arrived the kids were often moving on again.

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