The Holidays & Anxiety

December 19, 2015


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(Our tree this year)

Arizona loves Christmas and looks forward to presents from Santa (yes, she still believes)!

But presents are an interesting thing. Last year, for example, Arizona opened a package to find a stuffed Pokemon character inside. She wasn’t expecting it and couldn’t figure out how to process her feelings about it. Since then, she has become anxious about opening any gifts that come her way.

Arizona is worried that she’ll open a gift and won’t like what’s inside. She also worries that she doesn’t KNOW what’s inside the package ahead of time. The unknowns are difficult for her to process and reconcile.

I recently spent an entire 45 minute drive to grandma’s house helping Arizona process the angst about the inevitable present waiting for her at the other end.

Sometimes Arizona opens gifts and doesn’t want what’s inside. She reacts by verbalizing her displeasure in the gift, loudly. You can imagine what the reaction of the gift giver is in this scenario. So, we work on receiving gifts with a simple response, “Thank you for thinking of me.” Of course, those aren’t always the words that come out of her mouth.

In addition to anxieties about gifts and their unknown contents, the holidays can bring up a lot of changes and triggers for children with special needs. Schedules are different, there might be traveling involved, often times you may find yourselves with visitors or big group gatherings. Sensory overload is everywhere.

A fellow special needs mom recently sent out the following links to some very helpful survival guides for getting through the holidays with your child’s various needs. Within the following articles, you’ll find tips for dealing with sensory related anxieties, suitable toys that would be helpful for your child, how to plan for the long break from school, how to get your child ready for big gatherings, etc.

1.

http://www.abilitypath.org/tools-resources/links–resources/abilitypath_holidaysurvivalguideforparentswithspecialneeds_2010.pdf

2.

http://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_surviving_holidays.htmlhttp://www.oneplaceforspecialneeds.com/main/library_surviving_holidays.html

What are your tips and hints for getting through the holiday season?