Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve, Oh My!
We have officially hit that time of year when routines are challenged, sensory needs are heightened, and there never seems to be enough chicken nuggets on the dinner table.
It is important to remember that the holidays can be especially difficult for people with disabilities when they have unique needs and preferences. Here are a few ways to support your loved ones with disabilities during this time of year.
1. Keep your day-to-day as close to the typical routine as you can
When possible, minimize disruptions to typical day-to-day tasks. This will look different for every family, but in general try to keep expectations and tasks the same throughout the holidays. This can relieve pressure on your loved one to perform new or non-preferred tasks. For example, if your loved one is used to eating dinner at 5pm and all of a sudden dinner is now at 7pm that could cause some discomfort.
2. Build-in breaks
Sometimes people just need to know that a certain event is not going to last forever. If your loved-one responds well to down-time or "breaks" build them into the holiday routine and let them know when they can have some alone time.
3. Be flexible
Remember that this time of year is full of changes! Sometimes you may find it helpful to give your loved one extra autonomy on what they choose to participate in, put on their dinner plate, or who they spend time with. Put aside your expectations and enjoy the time you have together! Remember, this is their holiday, too. They want to have a good time, doing things they enjoy, just like you do.
5. Ask what they need to be supported
Probably the most important tip here is to listen to your loved one. Ask them about their preferences, what supports they need, and how you can help make the holidays enjoyable for them! It's important to listen and make accommodations all year, but it's a great reminder during the season of giving.
These tips are just a few ways you can be supportive to your loved one(s) with disabilities. Keep in mind that all people are unique and there is no one-size-fits-all for having a fun holiday gathering.