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Christmas for Children with Special Needs

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Are you worried about the big day? Wondering how your child will cope?

Woman looking stressed holding wrapped presents framed by a christmas wreath

Then take a deep breath and read on. It's ok to feel like this, and you aren't alone! Your child/children feel your emotions too and although they may seem over excited on the outside they may be internalising the pressure that is being felt to "hold it together for one day".

We can all picture it well, a home full of people, the hustle and bustle of wrapping paper being torn, lights flickering, smells from the fire or dinner cooking, frustrations among family members, and noise levels rapidly increasing...and then there's the long-distance family that turn up and plant their affection all over your children. It's a lot to take in especially if your child has special needs or SEMH difficulties.

If your child wants to disappear for half an hour or so to take a breather and get some space this doesn't mean they're being rude or unsociable. It likely means they need to take themselves away to regulate and cope. To have the courage to remove themselves from a situation that overwhelms them is something we could all learn from!

Here are our tips for children who are feeling this way on the big day:

  • Allow them to disappear, to regulate.
  • Ask them if they would like to help in the kitchen – they may want to remove themselves from the situation but still want to feel included!
  • Suggest an afternoon stroll for some fresh air. Or even with a family member whilst dinner is being prepared! (Even better if you have a dog that needs walking)
  • Take it in turns to choose a family game. They want their voice to be heard!
  • Break up the present unwrapping throughout the day – instead of one manic half hour.
  • If your child is missing a family member who has gained their angel wings – suggest writing a letter, explaining and describing the yummy food.
  • They may need a sensory break – try dimming the lights and putting some meditation/white noise music on.
  • It's one day. If it doesn’t go to plan…there’s always tomorrow.

Take a minute to realise, your children will have warm smiles, a full belly and loving family around them playing silly games. That is what it’s all about. The memories, the smiles and the comfort. The little things will stay with them forever.

To get in touch with a member of the Fresh Start in Education team, click here

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Fresh Start in Education Ltd is a Limited Company incorporated in England, Wales & Scotland
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