Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas and a Special Needs Child

The other day about I wrote about seeing the magic of Christmas through Noah’s eyes. But I wouldn’t be painting a complete picture of the Christmas season if I didn’t mention the hard parts too.

Even with all of Noah’s excitement about the Christmas season, it can still be very difficult for Noah and children like him. Christmas Day is extremely out of routine, there is no schedule. We usually travel to my parents’ house which he looks forward to but it’s just not the normalcy he is used to. It feels like a weekend (which to Noah means hash browns from McDonalds or Hardees) but it isn’t always on a weekend.

I thought I’d share a few of the things we usually do to try and help Noah have the merriest of Christmases possible and perhaps if you are the parent of a child with special needs who gets overwhelmed during the holidays, some of these ideas will help you.

1. Traditions are important. Just like routine, traditions become a part of the Christmas “routine.” Even though it’s only once a year, Noah remembers the things we do each year. For example, we have a very small Christmas Eve “party” (it’s just our little family but Noah likes to call it a party) after the candlelight church service. Part of Noah’s Christmas routine is the church service and then the Christmas Eve party. He knows those things will happen each year.
2. Quiet time is important. If Noah seems overwhelmed, we’ll take him into the bedroom and lay on the bed with him to help him calm down.
3. We don’t force anything. If Noah’s not in the mood to open presents, then we don’t force him to. We’ll either go ahead and open our own presents, open his presents for him and show him what he received, or just wait and try again in a little bit.
4. Even though we don’t force him to do anything, we also try to include him in everything. If he isn’t up for it, that’s OK but we always want him to feel included no matter what.
5. One more thing about presents – sometimes Noah gets overwhelmed with too many to open and his fine motor skills aren’t the greatest so Santa doesn’t wrap Noah’s gifts. They are unwrapped, out of boxes, etc. and displayed nicely and neatly ready for him to look at and play. What presents are wrapped; my family usually wraps in a way that is easy for Noah to open such as gift bags.
6. The past couple of years, Noah is becoming less picky about what he eats but he used to be super careful so my Mom and I would make sure that we had some of Noah’s staple food items to mix in with the other holiday foods we don’t have too often that way he has familiar things to eat.
7. I’ve let go of the idea of the “perfect” holiday. Our Christmas will never look like a Rockwell painting. I realized a long time ago to celebrate the good and the bad. It’s just a part of life and perfect holidays are unrealistic for any family.

If you’re juggling Christmas and a special needs kiddo, my heart goes out to ya! Merry Christmas! 

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