Special Needs Parenting: Celebrating the Holidays with your Child

news image

The holidays are here and that means decorations, lots of delicious foods, wish lists, excited little ones and sometimes added stress for parents who just want to bake cookies or get some gift shopping done! 

It’s difficult to keep stress at bay, but here are some tips to help let go of some everyday stress and enjoy the holiday traditions, magic and wonder with your child with special needs.

  • Say no to plans if it’s too stressful for you or your child.
  • Try to get the kids to bed early.
  • Take a break from a few appointments with therapists, if you both agree that your child can take that break without impacting their goals.
  • Keep expectations realistic. Share your expectations with others, if you are attending an event where your child may have some anxiety.
  • Find a sensory-friendly time to visit Santa or attend a party for kids with special needs (see the CTN calendar or check our Facebook page).
  • Try to stay on schedule so that routines are maintained as much as possible.
  • Create a new tradition for your family (matching pjs, baking a new holiday recipe, a special song to listen to, watch a holiday movie together, etc.).
  • Keep to plans that are within your child’s comfort level, this may not be a time to push the limits and try new things.
  • Give back to the community with a donation to a food or toy drive…giving back feels good!
  • Get your child involved in some of the planning, baking or shopping.
  • Ask for help! If you need some time to get some of the holiday tasks completed, ask a spouse, neighbour, babysitter or friend to watch your child for an hour or two.

Here are some of our favourite holiday articles for families with children who have special needs:

Best Toys for Kids with Special Needs

Gift Guide for kids with ASD

Do’s and Don’ts of gift giving to children with special needs

What Christmas looks like when your child has special needs

Christmas apps for kids with special needs

How to prepare your child for Hannukah (social story printable included) 

Ellen Stumbo Podcast- Surviving the Holidays plus downloadable survival kit 


Have another idea to help parents through the holiday? Email us at info@ctnsy.ca. Happy Holidays from the entire CTN team.