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Holiday Tips for Children with Sensory Needs

The most wonderful time of the year can easily become the most overwhelming time for children with sensory sensitivities. With bright lights, loud music, and different activities, it’s not uncommon for the holidays to create sensory overload, leading to meltdowns and challenging behaviors.

Autism Home Support Service’s team of Board Certified Behavior Analysts put together tips for families to support their children’s sensory needs through the holidays.

  • Prepare your child for an outing or event before going. If your child is anxious about new experiences, show pictures, so they know what to expect.
  • Noise-canceling headphones can help cancel noisy crowds or loud music.
  • Pack calming toys or fidgets ahead for something to keep their hands occupied; it can be helpful if your child has access to these highly preferred items before the outing.
  • Bring along favorite food items for picky eaters. However, if your child is interested in what is served, let them participate – it could be a great opportunity to introduce new foods!
  • Allow your child to have calming breaks for short periods in another room, hall, or outside.
  • For any smell sensitivities, bring along lotion or lip balm to provide a familiar scent.

Remember, the holidays can be overwhelming for anyone. Lean on your team – including your therapy team – for coaching and support. Your ABA team can provide suggestions and advice specific to your child’s needs. Praise and rewards are great reinforcement – you are not spoiling your child when you celebrate their accomplishments!


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