Want a Joyous Holiday Season? Mind those Sensory Needs

Want a Joyous Holiday Season? Mind those Sensory Needs



holiday seasonIt’s getting closer and closer to that time! The holiday season is upon us.  The children are beginning to get excited about the wonder of upcoming holiday adventures.  While their excitement is ramping up, you may be asking yourself, “what gift do I get my child with sensory issues”?  Grandma and Grandpa may be asking what would be the perfect gift for your child with sensory isms.   Dad may be asking, “Should we take Johnnie to see Santa this year?”  Sound familiar?

Explore Individual Sensitivities & Needs this Holiday Season

Consider your child’s specific sensitivity.  If your son is sensitive to loud sounds, don’t get a fire engine that makes a lot of noise.  In general, avoid toys that make a lot of different noises over and over again.

If your daughter really likes to climb and move as an avid sensory seeker, look into getting her an outdoor climbing structure or a swing set. I would like to add here that all children should be getting in climbing and movement activities no matter their sensitivity – it’s what develops their sensory system.

If your grandson only knows how to spin the wheels on the car, consider a Hot Wheel set to encourages him to actually race the cars along the track.  A set will additionally encourage engagement with another person – encourage play time with family members.

Capitalize on Stocking Stuffers and Small Gifts this Holiday Season

Sensory Fidgets are my favorite suggestion for stocking stuffers or small gifts.  Look for any type of fidget that feels fun, whether slimy, gooey, squishy, soft, hard or bubbly.

Also, consider various types of soft brushes or paint brushes for children to play with.  Have the children brush their bodies or “paint” their parents arm or leg.

Look into small toys that buzz or vibrates.  The vibration may be calming for some children or just plain fun to play with for others.  Consider something like the Animal Massager, which could be a four pronged turtle, frog or lady bug.   For children who seek oral sensory input, consider the Jiggler from Abilitations.

Seek out sensory fidgets that include squishy balls that pop out of the top, hand puppets or play foam. If your child is sensory defensive, initially, he may not like the feel of these types of fidgets, however, they are therapeutic and continued use over time will help your child get used to it.

Create Passes and Tickets this Holiday Season

Whether you stuff it in a stocking or wrap it in a box, gift out home made entrance passes or tickets to favorite destinations. Ideas could be as simple as a pass to the playground with Mom, an evening of wrestling with Dad or and afternoon of baking with Grandma.

These passes work wonders with older children as they easily grasp the concept.  Any time they need special time with mom, dad or grandparents, they can ask to use their passes.  Even better if some of the passes include trips to locations where they can garner sensory input, like a rock climbing wall or a day trip to the beach.

Avoid Sensory Overload this Holiday Season

Most important is to keep your child’s sensory needs at the forefront of your mind.  Avoid the crowds, lights or loud sirens.  If you can’t locate a “Sensitive Santa”, perhaps sitting on Santa’s lap will be attempted next year.   It may sound like a fun and exciting idea to take your two year old to visit Santa.  However, if your two year old has sensory issues, it may be too much for the little guy to handle at this time.  A meltdown may ensue and a fear of Santa may be born.

Avoid taking your four year old son shopping at the mall five days before Christmas.  Since that is one of the busiest times, that may turn into a disaster for your child and you.  Consider how your child may react to these overwhelming situations.  Yes, we want children to get used to the sensory bombardment of busy malls and such, however, they need to build up to is slowly providing them ample time to process the experience.  Consider asking Grandma to watch your four year old if you must go out shopping at that time.  Even better, order earlier online!

The holiday season can be such a great time for family and giving.  Be sure to keep in mind your child’s specific sensory needs and your will be on the path to a most joyous holiday season.