Holiday Survival Guide for your Special Needs Child

The holiday season can be a bit hectic for all of us. For those of us with children who may have special needs, it can be a bit more hectic trying to make sure our little ones are happy during this time as well.

Holidays although full of fun, can be pretty aggressive for a special needs child. The biggest reason this happens is holidays bring about considerable changes in daily routine and mot special needs children thrive off having a set routine. Throwing off a special needs child routine can cause frustration for them and anxiety. Anxiety for your child means it brings the stress of the holidays to an all-time high for mom and dad. However, it doesn't have to. I’m going to give you my perfect plan to survive the holidays for you and your special little one.


Stick to Routine

If your child eats at a particular time or goes to bed at a certain time, try to keep that routine. Sticking with a familiar routine will help your little one destress and relax during a time of change and unfamiliar settings.

Plan Ahead

With children, planning your days ahead of time I have always found to be successful. Planning allows you to prepare which helps your child to know you have things handled for them. If visiting family be sure to pack accordingly to your child’s needs be sure to bring their favorite toys for comfort.

Discuss/Talk to Friends and Family

Talking to your friends and family is an essential step. Why? Your friends and family may not be fully aware of your child’s needs. Especially your family members who live out of town who do not interact with your child regularly. If they will be visiting and bringing along their children, it is important to make them aware of exactly what to expect and what you ask of them while visiting. You want to be sure your child is enjoying the holiday fun just like everyone else, and there is no problem with letting your friends and family know. They should be very understanding of your child’s needs.

Ask For Help

If you don’t ask how will others know you need help or how to help. Be sure to ask a friend or a family member to help you with caring for your child during holiday parties and gatherings. You may also ask for help while you go Christmas shopping.

Prepare Your Child

If you can, prepare your child for what’s to come. Using books or pictures will help your child better understand what will happen. Before the holidays I like to have activities geared toward what will happen. Sometimes I will make flashcards with index cards with pictures and words that are familiar to the holidays. 

Easy To Unwrap Gifts

Fine motor skills can be a struggle for a child with needs. Be sure to let gift givers know that they should make gifts very easy to unwrap for your little one. Easy gift wrap will help not to frustrate a child who struggles with these skills as well as give them the excitement of being able to unwrap gifts on their own.

Holiday Photos

Do not leave your little one out of the holiday photos. Plan to take pictures well enough in advance of the holidays to beat crowds if you are going to a photo store. Try finding photographers who are familiar with taking photos of children with needs. You may also choose to take pictures of yourself.

Say “NO” If You Need To

I’m a be honest there are times where I just say no to invites. Having my child go through an anxiety episode due to being over stimulated just isn't worth it in some cases. I had to learn to decline gracefully to invites. My son does well in crowded places and being around new people the older he becomes. With that accomplishment, we have begun to accept a bit more. So, do not feel bad to say “no” or feel pressured to say “yes.”


Enjoy your holiday season. Remember this is a time to embrace loved ones and relax. Have fun with your little ones and create memories.CONNECT WITH US!

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