“It’s the most great time of the year” warble the lyrics heard everywhere through the holiday season. But for children with specific health demands, the flashing lights, blaring music, crowded malls, social events and schedule alterations can be overwhelming.
Young children with mental well being problems or developmental and physical challenges such as autism, ADHD, sensory troubles, depression and anxiousness may need to have added aid managing the festivities of the season.
Here are 10 techniques parents and caregivers can assist preserve the holidays content for their little ones:
Stay away from events with loud noises
Loud music, fireworks and noisy parties might be upsetting for children with autism and sensory problems, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Healthcare Center in New Hyde Park, New York.
“Families often go to events in the course of the holidays where there are fireworks, like theme parks or New Year’s celebrations. Fireworks can be fascinating and exciting or very stressful and threatening,” Adesman told CBS News.
Young children with sensory problems could also discover loud noises upsetting, so quieter events such as cookie baking, reading vacation stories, children’s holiday events at a library or a low-key holiday film at residence with family might be much more peaceful options.
For children with ADHD, although, the novelty of fireworks may possibly be engaging, he mentioned.
Avoid crowds, strangers, chatter
Adesman stated sitting on Santa’s lap might be specifically upsetting for a youngster on the autism spectrum.
“The concept of getting a youngster sit on Santa’s lap sounds great, but even kids without a developmental disability can really feel uncomfortable in that scenario,” he stated.
Parties with relatives that the family does not see frequently can generate anxiousness, also. “Even a benign activity can be anxiousness-inducing and threatening and lead to escalation,” he stated.
Households may have some sense of how their kid will do at a holiday event based on how they deal with birthday parties.
“Parents know their kids and need to have to be mindful of their demands. In some cases you can prepare little ones for specific types of scenarios in advance. You can have rehearsals or prior exposure to the location where the party will occur,” Adesman stated.
Even with the best of plans – arriving early, sitting in a excellent location, getting rested and getting a lot of snacks on hand – events like vacation parties or concerts can turn challenging, Adesman stated.
“We want to expose our children with developmental problems to a variety of activities, all of which can be enjoyable, but parents want to read their children’s clues, anticipate and be sensitive to the truth that it won’t always go properly,” he stated.
Bring two adults so if something does not function out for your specific-demands kid, your other children can remain at the occasion.
In some instances, you might even be in a position to mitigate some of the stimulation so a child can comfortably remain: wearing headphones with sound protection, for instance, if they don’t mind devices on their head.
Be on guard for wandering
“Whenever routines are altered, there’s the prospective for youngsters to get separated. Wandering has turn into a significant concern for youngsters on the autism spectrum.
The frequency with which children with developmental issues wander off is extraordinarily higher and poses dangers to young children, especially when you are traveling,” Adesman said.
Kids who wander face a lot of dangers, such as drowning, in the course of visits to resorts or relatives’ residences with pools, targeted traffic dangers and strangers.
“Some households are utilizing a lot more sophisticated GPS devices or bracelets children can put on — kid safety bands. Autism Speaks has a wonderful section on their web site with safety goods,” said Adesman.
Children with and without wellness problems will be faster to get upset if they’re not acquiring sufficient sleep, said Adesman.
“Walking this tightrope of attempting to make the most of the holidays for the complete household, but exposing and enriching the family members knowledge with effectively-intentioned activities, is a reality for families with particular-demands kids,” mentioned Adesman.
Acquiring enough sleep is important to support hold health on track and moods cheerful.
Keep meals on track
Some children might have narrow meals preferences. No matter what they enjoy or don’t appreciate eating, be wary of excess sugar intake when Christmas cookies and other treats seem to be everywhere.
“There’s not a lot of information to assistance that sugar tends to make youngsters hyper,” said Adesman. “For the most element, families want to restrict sweets if that tends to make them far more comfortable. And stick to particular diets for children on the autism spectrum – dairy-free of charge, casein-free of charge, gluten-free diets in some cases. Parents will know and be ready.”
Practice relaxation techniques
Parenting blogger Lori Lite suggests teaching children deep breathing.
“Let your youngsters see you use tactics when you are feeling stressed. Encourage them to use relaxation strategies on a daily basis. Breathing, visualizing, and optimistic considering are potent tools,” she writes on her blog.
Do not rush
Lite also recommends slowing down as an alternative of rushing around in the course of the holidays. She stated rushing youngsters and teens just causes anger to bubble up.
“Make positive you leave enough time to take pleasure in the journey and avoid meltdowns. Young children with particular requirements must be provided notice of transitions,” she writes.
Take care of your personal well being
Depression tends to run in families, so it’s crucial parents of kids struggling with these mental overall health troubles take care of themselves, stated Jeremy Pettit, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Florida International University in Miami.
“In depressed teens, we are more likely to see depressed parents and higher anxiousness. There’s a much better-than-average possibility some of these parents may possibly have some of the very same concerns,” he mentioned, adding that substance abuse may also go hand in hand with depression.
Pettit recommends that households maintain to their normal routines when it comes to sleeping and consuming, even if they’re on vacation.
“Adolescents get a break from school and their sleep-wake cycle gets fully disrupted. They sleep a lot throughout the day. They consume differently and are typically much more sedentary and that has an impact on mood and can exacerbate troubles occasionally,” stated Pettit.
Families ought to stay physically active and eat healthfully throughout the holidays simply because that can aid, as well, specifically if there’s a history of depression and anxiousness, stated Pettit.
It may possibly be tempting to cancel standard mental health counseling appointments due to busy schedules at this time of year, but Pettit says therapy might be a wonderful support for households throughout this time.
Don’t invest also a lot time on social media
“Looking at other people’s Facebook pages and seeing them undertaking fun items and with each other with other people can really make you really feel worse. For parents, I advise receiving up, getting active and arranging some structured activities throughout the break,” said Pettit.
For parents and kids with depression this can be particularly crucial, he stated.
Meeting up with other men and women your kid likes to see, going to a movie if your kid enjoys them, or taking a stroll in the park can be shared by all of the youngsters in a household, not just those with well being requirements.