Making the Holiday Season Your Own

Two Thanksgiving Toy Pilgrims

Thanksgiving comes early this year and you know the drill: Minimize your stress; strive for peace over perfection and when it comes to gift buying, save some steps and a whole lot of aggravation and shop Enabling Devices. In between, find precious time to connect to family and friends. Though the holiday season can be busy, it also provides a wealth of opportunities to make memories, establish traditions and enjoy special events. Here are some of the best ways that families with children with special needs can enjoy Thanksgiving.

One-on-one activities or outings
Thanksgiving often means socializing with big groups of people, a scenario that isn’t ideal for many people on the spectrum. Be sure to set aside time for one-on-one parent/child activities and/or projects that your child and other close family members or friends can enjoy together. As Karen Wang of the Friendship Circle suggests: Try “building relationships by approaching one person at a time and doing some type of activity together – for example, sewing with Grandma or making breakfast with Aunt Maggie.This allowed each person to learn how to communicate with my son and improved my son’s comfort level – no more questions fired rapidly and loudly across the room at him.”

Allow your child to lead a group activity that centers around his special interest
Many children with special needs have passions that they love to share with others. So whether your child is obsessed with anime, Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney movies or baseball trivia, create a time-limited game or activity around his passion.

Help your child cook a special holiday dish
Cooking is a great parent/child bonding activity. It also builds confidence and pride.  And bonus:  If you and your child prepare a dish she enjoys eating, she’ll anticipate Thanksgiving dinner with enthusiasm.

Sensory-friendly Activities
Nowadays, many entertainment, sports venues and restaurants are knowledgeable about the sensory needs of children with disabilities. Some of these offer sensory-friendly performances, holiday shopping hours and other opportunities so that children with special needs can enjoy holiday activities that might otherwise be uncomfortable for them and their families. Some shopping malls have even begun offering sensory-friendly visits with Santa!

Take steps to make Thanksgiving dinner fun for all
Try not to get caught up in a fantasy of what Thanksgiving dinner is supposed to be. Instead, make the holiday your own by modifying to meet your family’s need and priorities. For example, if your child’s not a turkey fan, give him another option. The vegetarians and vegans that may very well be at your table will thank you!

If you know your child won’t be able to stay at the table for more than 20 minutes, don’t force the issue. Let her leave the table to watch a video, color, or read a book. Alternatively, consider having a less formal Thanksgiving buffet where everyone is free to roam around.

Though some people love cooking favorite family recipes and using their finest China and silver for Thanksgiving celebrations, others would rather keep it simple. Why not make it easy on yourself by having a Thanksgiving pot-luck, ordering some of the meal and using recyclable paper plates, cups and napkins.

Thanksgiving happens once a year. Make it a happy occasion!