It feels like the Christmas festivities start earlier and earlier every year. This makes it harder for your child with communication difficulties to process what is happening. Whilst you can’t do anything about the events that happen around your child, you can start to put into practice strategies which may support them and allow them to regulate their emotions.
Explore six ideas here:
1. Print off or buy a blank calendar to use at home
You can start to write in activities out of the usual routine and add a picture to allow your child to understand what it’s about. You can also use it as a countdown to Christmas Day to try to prevent ‘how long’ questions.
2. Make use of visual timetables
These are useful in everyday settings and activities but also when change occurs.
3. Be aware of any non-uniform days
Days like ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ can make your child feel uncomfortable and may affect their behaviour. By giving yourself time, you can have conversations with your child’s teacher to find a more suitable alternative. For example, they can wear a Christmas t-shirt that they find more comfortable.
4. Think about what will benefit your child
Do they like being surrounded by people or do they prefer a quiet space on a 1:1 basis? Christmas activities often involve lots of group work in school (e.g., rehearsing for carol concerts or plays). They might prefer to pre-record their part in the Christmas play or create pieces of art which can be used. At home, they may prefer one guest visiting at a time, rather than all at once.
5. Explore how your child is feeling
It’s important to find out how your young person is feeling and how these impact on the activities of that day. It might be that your child doesn’t like surprises and the intensity of opening gifts is too much for them. They may prefer gifts to be left unwrapped and given throughout the day, rather than all at once.
6. Consider sensory needs
Ensure your young person has everything they need to meet their sensory needs. This can be e.g. noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys, or comforting items. These will particularly be helpful with routines changing, often with little notice. If at home, you may wish to not put lights on the Christmas tree if visual stimuli become too much.
Remember clear communication between home, school and other family members is vital during this time. By having clear communication and expectations, your young person will feel more secure. And you can have a Christmas that is right for you and your family.
Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.