Helping Children with Special Needs Manage the Holidays

The holiday season can bring about changes in schedules, the lessening of familiar routine structure and often celebrations that include group family events and/or visitors to the home.

These situations can pose challenges and increase anxiety in children with special needs. In today’s Teacher Tips newsletter, the Watson Institute shares strategies for reducing holiday stressors for your child with special needs.

Employing a few simple strategies during the holiday can help promote positive outcomes and reduce stressors for your child with special needs.

  • Structuring the environment by creating a schedule of planned activities using pictures or words for each step in the schedule.
  • Using behavior stories to set expectations for what will happen during the holiday event, focusing on social cues and the schedule of events that will occur. Practice the story with your child before the event so they know what to expect.
  • Reinforcing positive behaviors by setting expectations such as: use your inside voice, use nice/appropriate words and language. When your child with special needs practices expected behaviors, provide a favorite toy or activity to reinforce positive behaviors.

To learn more about how to prepare your child with special needs for family gatherings during the holidays, check out our YouTube video below. For more special education resources, visit Watson Life Resources.