I was reading some of my previous blogs about the holidays, how to schedule things, when to schedule things and actually so much more. I guess I have a lot to say about this wonderful time of the year.

Probably because it is also a hugely stressful time of the year. And this goes for everyone and that much more for our children with special needs.

I am not alone in noticing the quite obvious checkered flag of “GO” that is being waved at every turn when you are in a store and see red and green decorations especially when you are trying to buy Halloween candy only.




Shopping, buying, planning…….. Unless you are like my dear friend who happily shared, she is DONE with her shopping and prep for the holidays. So, because I like her so much, I am willing to overlook this.

But that brings to mind the next big thing of the holidays and that is doing all the GO, GO, GO to get to the island of DONE.

How many and I mean MANY times do we get asked and probably do the asking, are you done with your shopping yet?

DONE is the goal.

But in all this our children with special needs are still navigating their typical day to day life, which is hard work for them and then the holiday time arrives and the schedules they know are changed, the faces they see are changed, the food they are presented with changed and…….

I think that one of the most important things to help the holidays go well for your child with special needs as well as the family is having the knowledge of how your child works and and their specific needs and to be able think of those as you make the plans, events or schedules.

I have said before so many times that knowing your child’s needs, how they work and what WILL work for them allows such growth and understanding. I think this holds true so much for the holidays as well.

I think that the holiday time has so many wonderful, beautiful things with it. The traditions that make it special and bring to current day the relatives not able to be here anymore or the music that makes you reflect and pray or that fun it is to watch that one holiday movie for the 12th time and on and on.

But, if your child doesn’t like to make cookies because of the sensory issues with cooking, then planning for them to be part of the holiday cooking bake will probably be something that causes anxiety to you, those there and your child. Maybe that is a good time to arrange something else that they like during that time. Or if game night, after 15 minutes, becomes overloading to them. then maybe they hang in only that long and you don’t ( Michele) keep encouraging them (Elizabeth ) to stay in the game.

I say this from experience because trust me I WANTED SO BADLY for Elizabeth to do certain things on the holidays. So for many years, I would try to encourage her to be part of this or that, knowing that in previous years it did NOT go well.

But I kept trying until I took a good, hard look and saw that she was NOT having fun at all and if that was the case, why was I really making her do it? And then I took a look at everyone and realized that everyone was sort of paying more attention to Elizabeth and how she was feeling that I thought.

So I think as we are now in early November, it is a really good time to take that look at your beautiful child with special needs and what do they like, dislike, want to do, not want to do this year. It is okay, it really is, if they sit out on something that to them is really anxiety provoking. Hard as that is for us, it is the best for them.

And work with those as you plan the holidays. Starting with Thanksgiving.

Then talk with family and friends to help them understand your child better. (Even if you had this talk last year, our children and their needs change often)

Then something I need to remember is to celebrate what they CAN DO and DID not what you hoped they would do

So as we see that checkered flag and find ourselves on the GO to take that time to really look and plan for your child because time is on our side right now. And we want the holidays to be enjoyed by all and the memories to be made in abundance!

Now I have to start a shopping list for Thanksgiving and know that Elizabeth will be with me as we shop because I KNOW this is something she enjoys and wants to do.

I wish everyone a peaceful week,

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You