Holiday Stress for Children - Little Spurs Autism Centers

Holiday Stress for Children

  • December 16, 2022
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Holiday Stress for Children - Little Spurs Autism Centers

The holidays are a time to get together with loved ones, share in special moments, and create memories.  Many factors should be considered when developing a plan of action to make sure this Holiday season is a bright and joyful time for your child and family. Here are some things you can add to your game plan to ensure your child is prepared for the holiday season:  

Prepare for Change in Routines 

Creating time to sit down and discuss the changes taking place for you and your child during this time of the year is important to better prepare your child for events occurring outside of their normal routines. It is important to do what you can to maintain a predictable routine. Too many changes in a routine can create stress especially for children with Autism or other special needs. 

  • Implementing a visual planner or schedule to help them know of events that are upcoming, the order of the events, when and where they are taking place, etc. 
  •  Establishing a calendar together as a family of what is going on and when can help everyone feel more prepared. 

Traveling  

Planning for travel is an essential part of the process of preparing your child. This ensures children have a heads up with not only changes for routines, but also a lot of sensory differences that can come with the territory of traveling to see family and friends. Knowing how much noise and sensory input your child is comfortable with will help you plan. 

  • If you are aware of your child’s sensory preferences, pack comforting items that may be needed to help them cope with being in new places, around new people or in crowds of people, and being in the car for longer periods of times or on buses, trains, and planes.  Planning and allowing for a place and time for your child to decompress during and after traveling, can be a key to success for you and your family.   
  • Bringing along a comforting and familiar item can also help your child feel more relaxed in these different circumstances.  

Visiting Family and Friends & Having Visitors  

If your family is having visitors, prepare the child for the upcoming changes! It is always important to keep in mind that your child may not always understand the transitions taking place around them. However, with planning and finding the best route of communication, you can help them understand those times a little better. 

  • Inform the child of the possibility that sleeping arrangements, seating at the table, and other things around the house may be different. Reminding visiting family members to be aware of special needs the child has, including house rules and special routines the child might have.  
  • If you have a child who struggles with social skills, you can help prepare them for having company over by practicing introductions and conversation goals with them. It is important to tell your visitors of your child’s needs and preferences to help everyone be prepared and ready for fun and memorable times together as a group.  

Keep Healthy Habits 

During the Holidays, we can tend to overeat and indulge in many sweets and other treats that are not necessarily high in nutrients. Due to rainy and often colder weather, more time can be spent doing indoor activities rather than getting physical activity such as a walk or playing outside. Healthy habits such as including good nutritious foods and physical activity in your day are essential in keeping up with a healthy lifestyle. A 

  • Children on the spectrum can often show signs of picky eating, and so it is important to have novel healthy foods nearby to help keep them on track at Holiday meals where unfamiliar food might be present. ll the candies and treats are amazing and absolutely should be enjoyed, just try to make sure that your children are getting a full meal rather than just the treats! 
  • There are tons of ways to get physical activity inside the house as well, games, yoga, and other forms of exercise will help keep your child on a more normal routine and get them moving. Keeping up healthy habits can help keep stress levels lower during the Holiday season and provide a better and healthier outcome for you and your children.  

The Holiday season can be a time for many family memories to be made and can also come with some challenges such as changes in routines and new transitions. This can be a struggle for all families, but also those whose children have Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, speech delays or children struggling with social skills and other developmental delays.  Things like changes in routines, family and friends coming over, new foods, loud sounds and other sensory challenges can lead to sensory overload. 


Little Spurs Autism Centers offers collaborative and compassionate ABA Therapy to children 0-21 years old. Offering both center-based and home-based care, LSAC is excited to empower families by providing them with the support they need. For more information, please email us at autism@littlespurs.com

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Article By: Breanna Kolts, Reviewed by Monica Tagle RN, MSN, CPNP-PC, ASDCS

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