Mental disorder,Major depressive disorder,Autism,Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,Anxiety,Child

10 holiday tips for families of kids with special health needs

December 8, 2016
in Kids

The holiday season can be full of special challenges for families of special-needs kids. Getty Images/iStockphoto “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” warble the lyrics heard everywhere through the holiday season. But for kids with special health needs, the flashing lights, blaring music, crowded malls, social events and schedule changes can be overwhelming. Children with mental health issues or developmental and physical challenges such as autism, ADHD, sensory issues, depression and anxiety may need extra help managing the festivities of the season. Here are 10 ways parents and caregivers can help keep the holidays happy for their kids: Avoid events with loud noises Loud music, fireworks and noisy parties may be upsetting for children with autism and sensory issues, said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York. Play Video Top holiday attractions across America “Families sometimes go to events during the holidays where there are fireworks, like theme parks or New Year’s celebrations. Fireworks can be exciting and fun or extremely stressful and threatening,” Adesman told CBS News. Children with sensory issues may also find loud noises upsetting, so quieter events such as cookie baking, reading holiday stories, children’s holiday events at a library or a low-key holiday movie at home with family may be more peaceful alternatives. For children with ADHD, though, the novelty of fireworks may be engaging, he said. Avoid crowds, strangers, chatter Adesman said sitting on Santa’s lap may be particularly upsetting for a child on the autism spectrum. “The idea of having a child sit on Santa’s lap sounds great, but even kids without a developmental disability can feel uncomfortable in that scenario,” he said. Parties with relatives that the family does not see often can create anxiety, too. “Even a benign activity can be anxiety-inducing and threatening and lead to escalation,” he said. Families may have some sense of how their child will do at a holiday event based on how they handle birthday parties. “Parents know their kids and need to be mindful of their needs. In some cases you can prepare kids for certain kinds of scenarios in advance. You can have rehearsals or prior exposure to the place where the party will happen,” Adesman said. Be flexible Even with the best of plans – arriving early, sitting in a good...

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