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Great Tips for Christmas with a Sensory Child


It’s Christmas and quite rightly you’re dreading it.

As parents of Sensory Children, we all know that the build-up to Christmas comes with one great big CRASH! It’s inevitable, it’s not going to be the perfect day, but maybe with some great tips for Christmas with a sensory child, it could be a nice calm, relaxed and less anxious Christmas in your house?


1. Count Down

Count downs are a big thing in our house.  We need to know who is doing what and when and what is happening for the next X amount of days.  I’m sure this is familiar to most of you.

Christmas starts too soon these days and this becomes overwhelming for our children.  I always use a count down, here are some ideas:

  • Advent Calendar
  • Chalk Boards – you can change the countdown daily
  • Sweets in a Jar – remove one every day until they have all gone
  • Daily Activity– put 25 in a jar and remove one each day
  • 25 Books to read at bedtime
  • Elf on the Shelf – although for some children this can be quite scary

There are so many ways you can do this and Pinterest has some great ideas too.

2. No Surprises

Everyone loves a surprise, right? wrong! Some people with Sensory Needs can’t cope with surprises.

If this is the case and they are verbal or can write ask them what they want or to make a list.  DO NOT VEER FROM THE LIST! If it is something you can’t afford you may need to explain that they won’t get everything from the list, but they will get some of the things.

Another good idea is to take them with you to buy their gifts.  It really doesn’t matter that they see them, it will probably make them feel calmer about the day.

Don’t wrap presents, or wrap them in see-through cellophane wrapping. This takes away the anxiousness of not knowing what is in the wrapping but not the fun of getting a gift.

Be prepared for meltdowns if they get something that wasn’t on their list or something they didn’t want/need – it’s hard to understand why someone would buy you something you don’t want or need, that’s just logic! We have a little understanding that if she gets something she didn’t ask for or want – I will exchange it for something she does want or need and we will either give the gift on to someone who would appreciate it or give to Charity.

3. Food, Smells & Sound

We all love Christmas Dinner, but someone with Sensory Processing Issues might not! Don’t force it on them, if they want chicken nuggets and chips let them have chicken nuggets and chips – it really doesn’t matter.

With Christmas comes lots of unfamiliar smells, they may need to get away into their room to get away from the smells, that is okay, that is their safe and happy place. Christmas can be noisy, especially if you have family visiting.  If this is going to be too much for your child, arrange a schedule or just say no.  As much as Christmas is about family – your family comes first.

4. Be Prepared

These days Christmas seems to start in October, which means that for some people there is huge anticipation. They should really start making pre-advent advent calendars!

For those who struggle with anticipation, even the 24 days count down can be too much. Imagine waiting for Christmas full of expectation only to find that when you open your present it doesn’t have batteries it needs and you don’t have any in the house! Or you buy your child a princess dollhouse that once unwrapped takes 3 days to put together before she can play with it! Yes, both of these things have happened to me and I would love to help avoid it happening to you. So be prepared, buy the batteries and pre-build the toys.

Christmas is an amazing time of year for many people. Full of excitement and tradition. However, Christmas can also be an awful time of year for many others.

For some people Christmas can bring sorrow, thinking about the loved ones they have lost. Some people may not be able to afford presents or traditional Christmas food. At Christmas, it is important to do what is best for yourself and your family. Don’t feel pressured into doing something that doesn’t work for you.

We hope these great tips for Christmas with a sensory child have helped you and if you need any more help why not consider joining our fantastic Sensory Support Group 

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