It's the Most Sensory Time of the Year!
MANAGING ANXIETY AND COPING WITH CHRISTMAS CHANGE
We love the festive season and can’t wait for the fun to begin. At SGLOSPC HQ we know through experience the difficulties the season can bring. It is a season of fun but for some of our children, it can be a confusing and overwhelming time of change – school routines are off, the house may be decorated and look different with lights and sparkles and candles, all of which can be overwhelming to some children, not to mention a flow of guests and activities. The National Autistic Society has created a really useful guide for coping with the festive season that can be adapted and apply to any child who struggles with anxiety, change and uncertainty. We have picked a few of our favourites:
- Make a schedule: This involves planning and a calendar either homemade or bought if you don’t have visual a planner already. Planning is tricky and oh so unspontaneous but the benefits are huge. Highlight the times when school will stop for holidays or routine is disrupted with parties and rehearsals to help your child prepare and know what to expect. You can even add when you will be buying the tree or putting up the decorations or when visitors are expected.
- Tie in with school activities: Christmas at school starts early. Try to find out when Christmas type activities start at school so as a family you can begin to address it at home, this could help to alleviate some anxieties that may be emerging.
- What can be avoided?: Are there things which are sure to overwhelm your child? You could try to adapt traditions by creating a decoration space that is somewhere other than the main living areas or creating a Christmas free zone. You may want to consider not using lights or candles if this creates a sensory overload.
- Christmas Shopping Rules: Set up rules around shopping, which shops you are going to and for what so your child knows what to expect. You may want to involve them by giving them a task to carry out so there is a focus to the visit. Or if you are like me, order everything on line and avoid shops altogether!
- Plan and prepare for presents: Some children don’t like surprises so although it may feel like a little of the magic is taken away, you may want to consider telling your child what they have, leaving it unwrapped or wrapping it in a transparent cellophane type wrap.
- Preparing to the return to normality!: In just the same way you prepare your child for Christmas approaching, you may want to prepare them for the end of the festive season by marking on calendars or visuals the removal of decorations and the start of the new school term.
We hope you find these tips useful. If you would like to see the full guide please do get in touch we can send a PDF copy or go to their website http://www.autism.org.uk/christmas
Some resources and interesting Christmas articles on the Network Autism website