It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

So sings the crooner Andy Williams. And it can be with some careful planning. Here’s a little list of things we have found useful over the years.

  • Introduce decorations, presents, cards, Santa and the story of Christmas slowly through books and social stories.
  • Buy your tree early, go at a quiet time and choose together. Put it outside and discuss where to place it inside. Place a few decorations on each day. Choose lights with different settings. If you need to have two trees, one for you and one that your child can decorate. Avoid the temptation of moving their carefully placed decorations.
  • If you have a child who finds waiting really difficult keep presents out of sight until Christmas Day, and then limit it to one or two at a time.
  • Borrow ideas for taking turns; use a turn taking wheel, or pick numbers, or go in age order, or alphabetical order. Practice taking turns in play and everyday activities.
  • If everything is getting too exciting or overwhelming Christmas can be postponed until later. Let your child know if they need Christmas to stop it can, and have a space in the house where there is no Christmas.┬áTry as much as possible to keep to the usual routine, and only change things that your child can cope with.
  • If you’re away for Christmas that might be all the change used up. If you have visitors explain to them about routine and predictability being as important to your child’s mental well being as exercise is to their physical well being.
  • If they do not want to do the Christmas play ask school if they can have a role in setting out the chairs, greeting the audience, handing out programmes, opening curtains, costume changes etc.
  • Find cinemas and theatres doing sensory friendly showings.
  • If you want to visit a Santa who does quiet times phone and ask if there is a good time to visit. Some my even suggest coming before opening.