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Navigating the Festive Season: A Guide for SEND Families

The holiday season is often synonymous with joy, celebration, and togetherness.

Christmas is a time of diverse traditions and celebrations, reflecting the rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds that make up our global community. Families around Bristol bring their unique customs and practices to the festive season, creating a kaleidoscope of celebrations.

From special meals and unique decorations to distinct rituals and festive activities, each household adds its own touch to the holiday spirit. Whether it’s the warmth of a cozy family gathering, the joy of exchanging gifts, or the solemnity of religious observances, and even families who don’t celebrate Christmas will find that routines have changed due to school holiday or favourite places being closed or having different opening hours.

For families with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the festive season can bring a unique set of changes and challenges. In this blog post, we’ll explore how SEND families can navigate the holiday season and share practical tips to make this time of year more enjoyable for everyone.

Embrace Flexibility: The holiday season can disrupt routines and introduce new stimuli, which may be challenging for children and young people with SEND. Embracing flexibility is key. Consider creating a visual schedule to help prepare your child for any changes in routine. Communicate these changes in advance, allowing for a smoother transition during the festive period.

Create a Sensory-Friendly Environment: The sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas can be overwhelming for individuals with sensory sensitivities. Create a sensory-friendly environment at home by using soft lighting, playing calming music, and offering sensory-friendly activities. Providing a quiet space where your child can retreat when needed can also be beneficial.

Plan Inclusive Festivities: When organising festive activities, aim for inclusivity. Consider the needs and preferences of every family member. Choose activities that can be enjoyed by everyone, and be open to modifications, don’t worry about what others might be thinking, do what works best for your family.

Communicate with Relatives and Friends: Open communication is vital during the holiday season. Share your child’s needs and sensitivities with relatives and friends who may not be familiar with them. This helps create understanding and ensures that everyone can contribute to a positive and supportive atmosphere.

Prioritise Self-Care: The holiday season can be demanding, so it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to prioritise self-care. Allocate time for rest, relaxation, and activities that bring you joy. A well-supported caregiver is better equipped to navigate the challenges that may arise during the festive season. We know that for some families this can be extremely difficult and is easier said than done.

Seek Support: Connect with other SEND families for mutual support and shared experiences. Online forums, local support groups, or community events can be valuable resources. Sharing tips, strategies, and coping mechanisms can strengthen the sense of community and provide comfort during the holiday season. Find out what’s on here

While the festive season may present its unique set of challenges for SEND families, with thoughtful planning and consideration, it can also be a time of joy, connection, and celebration. Staying home and watching a film is fun and relaxing, try not to add pressure by comparing what others are doing.

Take care and whatever this festive period looks like for you, please do get in touch if we can help with anything.

Link to December news and updates here