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Navigating Holiday Events: Creating a Sensory-Friendly Experience for Children with Specific Needs

new years party with sparklers

The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but for children with specific needs, navigating festive events can be overwhelming. In this blog post, we'll explore practical tips and strategies to ensure a sensory-friendly environment, fostering inclusivity and allowing every child to fully enjoy the magic of the holidays.

The 7 Steps to Success Are:

1. Understanding Sensory Sensitivities:

Dive into the world of sensory processing challenges that children with specific needs may face. From hypersensitivity to certain stimuli to seeking sensory input, recognizing individual differences is the first step in creating an accommodating environment. Brain Balance Centers does a great job of explaining both sides and how they may affect each child differently.

2. Planning Ahead:

Offering a detailed plan for holiday events can significantly ease anxiety for both children and their families. Providing information about the venue, schedule, and any potential sensory triggers allows families to prepare in advance. Visual schedules, social stories or itineraries, are easy way to help stop ameltdown before it starts. The more info you can get in advance the better, and most places are happy to provide you with the ifo after a quick phone call if you are unable to find what you need online. for exaple, if youre going to the polar express ths season you may be able to use the visual train schedule below along with the itinerary to help your child know what to expect.

polar express train itinerary

polar express train visual schedule template

3. Quiet Zones and Safe Spaces:

Designate quiet zones or safe spaces within event venues where children can retreat if they become overwhelmed. These spaces offer a refuge to decompress, providing a sense of security and control in a potentially overstimulating environment. National Autism Resources has a great article on how to create a quiet safe space.

4. Thoughtful Lighting and Decorations:

Consider the impact of lights and decorations on sensory sensitivities. Opt for soft, muted lighting instead of bright, flashing lights. Be mindful of noise levels and choose decorations that add to the festive atmosphere without causing discomfort.

5. Sensory-Friendly Activities:

Incorporate activities that cater to diverse sensory preferences. From tactile crafts to calming activities like reading corners, offering a variety of options ensures that every child can engage in ways that align with their comfort levels. grab some great sensory friendly activity ideas here, in this artice from Brain Balance Centers.

festive family at the holidays

6. Clear Communication:

Effective communication is key. Clearly communicate with event attendees about the efforts made to create a sensory-friendly environment. This fosters understanding and support from the community, encouraging an inclusive atmosphere.

7. Inclusive Gift-Giving:

Consider the diverse needs of children when planning gift exchanges. Opt for gifts that engage various senses, and if possible, communicate gift options in advance to accommodate specific preferences. Check out this gift giving guide for some wonderful tips from Aruma.

Creating a sensory-friendly experience during holiday events is an investment in inclusivity and understanding. By recognizing and addressing the unique needs of children with specific sensitivities, we can ensure that the magic of the holidays is truly accessible to every child, fostering a spirit of joy and celebration for all.

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