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Dealing with sensory overload during festive Christmas period

Dealing with sensory overload during festive Christmas period

December 16, 2018

The festive period can be challenging. With Christmas and New Year’s fast approaching, you're probably busy juggling decorations, food, presents, and your typical day to day life! But for children with special needs, this time of year can completely overwhelm them and cause distress.

Although Christmas can be fun for your child, it can also be a nightmare. It's a sensory overload; you have family and friends visiting, it's noisy, there’s more food than usual causing their sense of smell and taste to heighten, and it can seem inescapable. Combined with bright decorations and crowded rooms, it isn't easy for a child with special needs to handle. To make things easier, we’ve put together a list of our best ways to ensure you and your child have an easy-going Christmas.

Top tips to avoid autistic sensory overload

Peace of mind

1. Ensuring your child has room to get away from all the stimuli for downtime

If your child struggles to stay calm in situations involving lots of people, especially as it’s likely to be all day or even days of people being in their space, make sure they know that you can talk to them and be there for them. Tell them it’s okay if they need to get away from all the stimuli and go to their room for some downtime to recharge and have a breather.

Making sure an environment is available to your child that is away from noise and crowds is critical. If you’re at some else’s house, be sure to ask if there is a room that your child is welcome to have access to.

All wrapped up

Sensory friendly gifting

As a child, presents are a big part of Christmas, especially if you have people joining you over the festive period. Although you probably know what type of toys and gifts are acceptable for your child and which aren’t, not everyone else will. Make sure everyone is clued up on what isn’t an appropriate gift for your child. Fantastic sensory-friendly gifts include toys that appeal to their sense of touch and hearing.

Preventing distress during Fireworks

With Christmas and New Year’s comes fireworks. Although fireworks are fun for most, they aren’t always fun for those with sensory issues. However, if your child does want to watch a display, there are ways to prevent distress. Earmuffs can be used to block out the loud bangs. They can also help keep the chill away. A significant step to take to prepare for fireworks is to tell your child ahead of time what to expect, maybe even watch some YouTube videos. And if they are still on board with the idea, make sure that they feel at ease to tell you if it gets too much.

This time of year can be magical for everyone if the right precautions are taken. All it takes is a bit of extra thought and care from yourself and those around you.


At SpecialKidsCompany, we love this time of year. To make it more comfortable, your child might benefit from our range of sensory-friendly clothing so that they can have a stress free Christmas and New Year.



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