Dealing with the holidays can be a very stressful and trying time for families and individuals alike.
It is crucial when preparing for the upcoming events to remember people with disabilities and their needs. The holidays are a time for families to enjoy, relax, and make memories with each other. It is essential to know, understand, and prepare for the upcoming holiday season in a positive manner.
Holidays With Special Needs;
Often times, people with disabilities communicate their stress/frustrations through behaviors. Most of the time people with disabilities have a hard time communicating how they feel, so the behavior indicates there is an underlying cause.
In order to prepare for the upcoming Holiday Season, here is a list of strategies for families to implement as the holidays approach to assist with the transitions:
1. Schedule Events For Your Family Parties.
This can be done by creating pictures/words, so the individual knows the planned order of the events. Having a visual for the individual to see allows them to understand what is coming next, and helps them prepare for the upcoming events.
2. Create A “Job” For The Individual To Be Involved In.
This could be assisting in the kitchen with meal prep, cleaning, or even greeting guests/family as they arrive.
3. Find, Review, And Discuss Pictures From The Holiday Festivities From Last Year.
This will allow the individual to remember the event and how it flows. This is also a great way to remind the individual of what will occur, and communicate any concerns/questions they may have.
4. Prior To The Event, Talk With The Individual And Create A “Safe Zone.”
This place should be quiet and a place where the individual can go to relax when they are faced with anxiety during the event. It allows them a time away to relax, reflect, and refocus.
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5. When Rearranging And Decorating The Rooms, It Is Essential To Include The Individual.
This will allow the individual to see the changes and also adapt to the “new” norm for a short period of time. If planning to travel to someone else’s house for an event, consider setting up a time prior to the event to take the individual to visit that particular place without other people. This will allow the individual to explore the place in which they will be attending, and it cuts down on the person’s stress level.
Focusing on gifts can be a challenging task as well. As the saying goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” Many people have a preconceived notion that individuals with a disability should only receive gifts.
However, that is a myth.
Individuals with disabilities need to be active with the giving as well. It’s important to remember that it is not about the material/tangible gift, but about the thought of giving. It is okay to think outside the box with gift giving.
Some examples include:
- Making Cookies
- Notecard For Each Guest With Encouraging Words
- Using Their Talents To Create A Gift.
What are some steps you have taken to help ensure the holidays are a special time for EVERYONE in your family?