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Tips for a successful Holiday Season

Tips for a successful Holiday Season

As the holidays approach, there may be more to prepare for than presents and decorating if you have a child with special needs. You are already anticipating the struggles of the long car ride ahead to visit family. Perhaps your child is so excited to get his picture taken with Santa, but you know that waiting in line in a crowded mall is a recipe for a tantrum or sensory overload for your little one. Begin to think about your child's individual needs and sensory issues now to help prepare them for a successful holiday season! Get creative! You can tweak your family's traditions so that everyone is included in holiday celebrations!


Begin to plan ahead for holiday events by consulting with your BCBA now to develop an appropriate plan for your child's individual needs to ensure they have the best holiday experience! Social stories and video models are great tools to use for all holiday occasions.

Tips for a successful holiday season

Video Modeling is another successful tool to use during the times leading up to holiday events. Look up videos on YouTube about decorating a tree or traveling on a plane. Watch these step-by-step videos during the weeks leading up to the holidays so your child becomes familiar with these routines. You could even create your own by videoing your child this holiday season to use for next year!

Events To Prepare For


Reach out to your community to find a sensory friendly setting so your child can meet Santa without all the chaos of the mall.


Have your child's favorite snacks and toys available to rotate throughout your travel.

Social stories, video modeling and role-playing are great options to prepare for the airport and plane rides.

If your child is currently using a token economy or visual schedule, make sure to incorporate these during traveling!

Decorating the Christmas tree

Using ribbons or lights that stay on (instead of blinking ones) if your kiddo has sensory issues.


For older kiddos, use a calendar to mark off the days until they finally get to open the presents under the tree!

Practice waiting on others to open presents and saying thank you to gift givers!

Meal Time

For the picky eater, your BCBA may develop an eating program to prepare your child for new holiday foods

Practice sitting throughout the meal with family

This is another great time to use a token economy and/or visual schedule!

Family Gatherings

Prepare a space for your child to hang out with his favorite toys if he needs a break from the crowded room.

Planning ahead could be the key to a happy holiday season for your kiddo! If your child uses a visual schedule, stick to it as much as possible but be flexible as well. Informing others of your child's likes and dislikes can make all the difference! So talk with your family and friends about your plan to ensure everyone can help make this holiday season a merry and bright one for your kiddo!

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