Holiday Concerns for Special Needs
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The key here is having a plan and sharing it. Set a reasonable limit on the length of visits. Determine where quieter areas can be found early on; if you are hosting, preserve a quiet area to escape to. If your child has limited food preferences, cater to them. Consider the crucial objects, schedules, routines and clothes that make a difference to your child and do your best to incorporate them. Predetermine a supervision schedule. Share the responsibilities if you can. If you don’t have a spouse who can pitch in, is there a friend, therapist, respite worker who might be willing to accompany you?
• Consider everything you have learned from past experience. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Can you identify strategies that might work for a more a positive outcome this time?
Following the holiday, make note of what went well and consider why. Then make a list of things that didn’t go well and consider why. This will help to make your next holiday even better.
• Focus on new opportunities. Don’t be anchored to old traditions that may not work with current variables. Consider what new traditions can be fostered in years to come. Emphasize the positive moments, and help your family and friends stay connected to your child by sending a photo with a note thanking each guest for making the holiday a special and memorable occasion.
DR. SCOTT L. BARKIN is a New York State-licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist with 25 years experience in public education and programs for special needs children and adults. Dr. Barkin serves as the executive director of Block Institute, a not-for-profit, non-sectarian agency serving the developmentally delayed.