Holiday time is a great time! We love the time off work and school. We love the freedom to sit around in our pajamas all day! We are at different locations than we are used to, and we are not following the same schedule we usually do. For many of us, this is exciting!
But for many of our friends, a change in routine is not helpful. For many of our clients, a change in routine overloads their sensory systems.
One of our sensory therapists, Madeline, recommends that when you do have a change in routine like the holidays, you stick to your therapy schedule as much as you can.
She also recommends that you consider signing your child up for a therapy intensive, especially if you will be traveling over the break. Intensives run from 60-90 minutes, packing a lot of therapy into one long session. This can help provide your child with a good dose of the consistency they are lacking over the holiday time.
Your therapists can also use this time to educate you, the parent, to give you strategies for how to help your child when you travel. We can help you learn how to manage a long car ride or plane ride. We can really work on and hone in on these skills during an intensive. Plus, this way you don’t lose any therapy time while you are away traveling over the holidays!
Besides therapy intensives, Madeline has several suggestions for how you can help your child manage the holiday break in routine:
1. Ask your therapists.
Talk to your therapists about strategies you can implement to help your kids manage the change.
2. Make a schedule.
Schedules can be key. Even if your kids don’t have school, you can make a schedule for the day so that they know they’ll be going to the park in the morning, and then having lunch, and then taking a nap. Having a visual of the schedule can also be a huge help.
3. Educate the relatives.
If your child gets overstimulated by touch, ask your relatives to refrain from giving them hugs, or kissing them on the cheek. If your child has auditory issues, let the relatives know what kinds of noises tend to overstimulate your child, and what you will need to do to keep them calm.
4. Use proprioception.
If your child does get overstimulated, try proprioception. Proprioception is a great way to calm our kiddos down, and help regulate their sensory systems. You can do this by having your child lie under a weighted blanket, or giving them a massage, or giving them squeezes down their arms and legs. This really helps create that calm inside their bodies.
Kate adds that many of our kids have auditory issues. Their hands go over their ears when there’s noise. They are overstimulated by crowds and sounds. If you are going out to a loud event, you can help these kids by bringing headphones or earmuffs for them.
Some of our kids have visual issues. The holidays can also be visually overstimulating for our kiddos, and they may need a break from the lights and colors.
As always, make sure you have an escape route so that if they do get overwhelmed you can get out quickly. If you are in someone’s home, make sure you have some calm environments you can escape to. Sometimes when there’s a lot of activity, it can be handy just to duck into the bathroom to hide away for a while.
If you have any questions about how to help your child manage holiday time, talk to your therapists. They have great ideas! And have a fantastic holiday break!