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  • Lyndsey Ryburn, MOT, OTR/L

Supporting Children with Sensory Processing Difficulty During the Holidays

The holidays can be such a special and exciting time for many! But for children with sensory processing difficulties it can be stressful, overwhelming, and downright scary! Here are some quick and simple tips for supporting children with sensory processing challenges during the holidays.

  1. Have preferred and comfortable food options. Holiday meals can be overwhelming because there are many more people than a typical mealtime and there may be a lot of new and different foods presented on the table. Providing your child with comfortable and preferred food options will allow them to feel safe and regulated during a time of sensory overload.

  2. Create a "safe space". Making a space that is designed just for your little one to retreat to when they are feeling flooded with sensory input can be an important and very helpful tool during the holidays. (Tips: make this space calming by decreasing visual input, making it dark with calming lights and preferably in a place that is farther away from auditory input or busy spaces).

3. Practice calming strategies beforehand. Practicing calming strategies such as deep breathing before festivities begin. Discuss when and how to use these strategies. This will prepare your child for the moments during the holidays where their sensory systems may feel flooded or overwhelmed by allowing them to recognize this feeling and cope with it effectively.

4. Utilize a visual schedule. Creating and using a visual schedule during the holidays can provide your child with expectations for what is to come throughout the day. This strategy creates organization in your child's brain and decreases the worry of the unexpected.

5. Create and offer a sensory box when needed. Create a sensory box with calming fidgets, earbuds for calming music or blocking out sound, crunchy snacks, bubbles or any other tools you and your child may find helpful. Have this box available to your child at any time and make sure they know where it is if they need it at any point during the day.

We hope you find these tips helpful in keeping a calm and stress-free environment during the holidays for you and your little ones!


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