The end of year and the festive season can be filled with fun and anticipation but can also bring challenges for everyone, including children living with a disability. As we approach Christmas and the holiday season it can be helpful to have some tips up your sleeve of ways to prepare your child for family occasions, trips away and changes to the regular weekly routine. The team of occupational therapists and speech pathologists at Everyday Independence have contributed some ideas, that may be helpful for your family. The aim is to prepare and support your child so this can be an enjoyable time for the whole family. Remember to chat to your therapists about any concerns you may have so that we can best support your family.
Tip 1: Have a discussion with your child about who will be at your Christmas functions. For example: at Christmas lunch will be Nan, Pa, Aunty Megan, Uncle Tim and cousins Angus and Matilda. A visual story with photos of these people and the place or setting can help too.
Tip 2: Encourage your child to bring along a transition or favourite toy to social events. Something that is familiar can help to calm your child in a new environment or somewhere you go only occasionally.
Tip 3: Create a school holiday visual schedule to help your child understand what is planned for each day. It could be a visit to the park, staying with grandparents, a shopping trip or going to a school holiday program.
Tip 4: Use the holiday time to prepare your child for changes at school in 2018. If starting at a new school take the time to familiarise your child with the new environment without the crowds. Identify where they will arrive each morning, where to find their classroom and toilets. You could pack a school lunchbox and eat as a family in the playground.
Tip 5: Think about toys, games or homemade activities that might be fun for your child whilst also providing a therapeutic benefit. Talk to your therapist about some ideas that could help and be lots of fun for all.
Tip 6: Make a ‘list of things to do when you have nothing to do’. This helps protect parents from the “I am bored” mantra.
We hope you enjoy a safe and happy holiday time together.