As we gather today with friends and family we expect this to be a joyous day, but for many families coming together means dealing with difficult relationships, uncovering hurts that have not healed and loved ones that are missing from the table. These gatherings can also be especially difficult if you have a child with special needs. Here are some tips to help you through the season with a thankful heart.
1. Food – Many children with special needs have limited items that they will eat. Allergies also prevent many children from participating in a holiday meal which typically has dairy and gluten. Pack snacks and some distractions that can be used during the day. This may be the difference between a meltdown and having to leave early.
2. Preparation – talk to your child about who they will see and appropriate behavior for the occasion.
3. Tag Team – speak with another family member who can step in and help if you or your child gets overwhelmed or can take some of your tasks off your hands.
4. Timing – are there better times during the day/evening for your child? Try to plan your visit if possible during a time when your child is well rested and better able to tolerate a different environment.
5. Relax – we all want perfection but it rarely happens. Take time to reflect on what you are thankful for and the victories that you have had.
6. Pay it forward – We all have friends and family that have their own unique struggles. Helping others is the best way to feel better about your own self.