Sleighing the Holidays: A Survival Guide to Navigating the Holidays with Children with Sensory Processing Disorder

Ah, the holidays—a time of joy, laughter, hilarity and yummy food. But for children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), it is a time of sensory overload, tantrums, and confusion. As we embark on this holiday season, it’s crucial to ensure that every member of your family — including those with SPD — can enjoy the festivities with comfort and ease. 

In this month’s article, we’ll explore six strategies to help your child with SPD navigate the holiday season. 

Keeping the Balance: How Chiropractic Adjustments Can Help

The holidays can be like a rollercoaster ride, full of unexpected twists and turns, kind of like an out-of-control dreidel. Regular chiropractic adjustments can help your child with SPD maintain their equilibrium. These adjustments help calm and balance the nervous system, which contributes to better sensory integration.

Imagine it as tuning up your child’s sensory engine before the holiday festivities begin. Chiropractors are a valuable resource in helping your child find their center amidst the chaos of holiday gatherings. Just be sure your chiropractor works with children and SPD. Both Dr. Ariel and Dr. Angela specialize in pediatric chiropractic and caring for children with sensory disorders. 

A Gift of Routine: Consistent Bedtime Schedule

Picture this: Your child’s bedtime routine is as predictable as Santa’s sleigh bells ringing on Christmas Eve. During the holiday season, sticking to a consistent bedtime schedule can be challenging, but it’s essential for children with SPD.

Maintaining a regular sleep routine helps kids feel grounded and well-rested, reducing their sensory sensitivity. Even during the holidays, aim to keep bedtime as close to their usual schedule as possible. Sure, it might mean missing out on some late-night holiday movie marathons, but a well-rested child will thank you for it.

The Fuel for Sensory Success: Nutrition

Holidays are synonymous with indulging in delicious treats, but for children with SPD, navigating the nutritional landscape can be challenging. A well-balanced diet can significantly impact their (and your) sensory experience during the holidays .

Consider bringing nutrient dense foods into your holiday feast. Try foods with various textures, flavors, and temperatures to cater to your child’s sensory preferences. Picky eaters might be more willing to try new foods when they’re part of a holiday spread. Just remember, there’s no shame in having a side of your child’s favorite snacks at the holiday dinner table.

Prepping Kids in Advance of Gatherings: A Little Warning Goes a Long Way

The sudden surge of holiday gatherings can overwhelm a child with SPD. Noisy relatives, flashing lights, and festive chaos can feel like a forever Ho Ho-ing santa that never stops. To ease their anxiety, prepare them in advance.

Let your child know what to expect at gatherings—explain who will be there, the activities planned, and any sensory challenges they might experience. Create a sensory toolkit with comforting items like headphones, fidget toys, or a soft blanket to help them feel secure in unfamiliar environments. Pinterest has some wonderful ideas.

Consider setting up a quiet space where your child can retreat if the sensory stimulation becomes too much. This haven can be a lifesaver during holiday gatherings.

A Taste of Adventure: Introducing New Foods

Holidays often bring new food adventures, and while your child may have a limited palate due to their SPD, it’s essential to encourage them to explore new foods gradually.

Start by introducing one new dish at a time and let them interact with it using their senses. Encourage them to touch, smell, and even taste the food at their own pace. Be patient, and remember that it might take several attempts before they’re comfortable trying something new.

And if all else fails, disguise that liver in a cheesy casserole—your secret is safe with us!

Spare the Sensory Overload: Types of Gifts to Avoid

While gift-giving is a cherished holiday tradition, some gifts may trigger sensory overload in children with SPD. Avoid toys that produce loud noises, flash bright lights, or have overwhelming textures. Instead, opt for gifts that help their sensory needs, such as weighted blankets, calming sensory toys, or books with tactile elements.

Remember, the holidays are about creating cherished memories and enjoying time together as a family. By using these strategies and keeping your child’s sensory sensitivities in mind, you can make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.

Helping children with Sensory Processing Disorder navigate the holidays requires a mixture of preparation, understanding, and a touch of creativity. Consistent chiropractic adjustments, a regular bedtime schedule, good nutrition, prepping kids before gatherings, introducing new foods gradually, and choosing sensory-friendly gifts are all valuable tools in your holiday survival kit.

So, as you gear up for the festive season, remember the holidays are a time of joy and togetherness. By introducing these strategies and adapting them to your child’s unique needs, it can help the holidays to be a sensory-friendly and memorable experience for the whole family. Cheers to a season filled with warmth, love, and plenty of sensory-friendly fun!

If you are concerned about your child with sensory needs, we can help. Contact us at the office at 1-760-740-9799.