3 Holiday Helpers for High-Needs Children

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With December well underway, you’ve likely experienced difficulty when it comes to your high-needs child and holiday celebrations. When kids have sensory challenges in any capacity, the obligatory work parties and family gatherings can throw them into a tailspin. 

The hardest part of this is that well-meaning friends and relatives don’t always understand the complexities that come with raising a little one who is overwhelmed by normal daily interactions.

When you have a child who is overstimulated in social situations, it can be hard to enjoy the magic of Christmas. That’s what we want to help you solve today. 

We truly hope you leave our site with a renewed sense of hope this holiday season.

Here are some ideas for navigating December with (relative!) ease.

3 Holiday Helpers for High-Needs Children

1. Preparedness is key 

When you have a child who is easily overwhelmed, being prepared is key. This sounds good in theory, but what does it look like in practice? 

It means ALWAYS packing mom-approved (and let’s be real… kid-approved) snacks. It also implies checking (and re-checking) the daily schedule, making sure to allow yourself time to get the family to and fro without rushing or running late. And lastly, it involves making lists and sticking to them. 

In general, it means making sure you go into the holidays with a plan (and a backup plan) in place to ease everyone’s stress. 

When Mom is calm, the kids can be too.

2. Less is more 

Though this is a season of giving, sometimes the best gift we can offer our children is our presence in lieu of more presents. 

Clutter and too much stuff can overwhelm even the best of us. Christmas morning brings no greater joy than seeing a child’s eyes light up at the beautifully wrapped packages beneath the tree, but “too much of a good thing” is a real thing. 

Try to keep the gifts you are giving this year simple, yet meaningful. 

Instead of focusing on material items, plan fun holiday activities that allow you and your child to make memories you’ll both cherish forever

3. Let kids be kids 

Sometimes we forget that our kids are, in fact, just kids.

Whether our kids are “neurotypical” or not, the reality is that kids need ample time and space to just be themselves. 

Consider this in your holiday planning. 

Make sure to leave breathing room in your busy December schedule. Don’t overcrowd your calendar with every single event you are invited to. It’s OK to say no. When things inevitably get hectic and stress levels are rising, give kids grace. It’s alright for them to have big feelings. Make sure they feel validated and heard. 

Everyone has bad days. Make peace with imperfection and embrace the mess.

There’s no such thing as perfect

The bottom line is this. Perfection doesn’t exist. It’s an impossible goal to strive for. As parents of neurodiverse children, we tend to carry the world on our shoulders. We are weighed down with fear for the future and want nothing more than to make the world around us right for our kids. This can lend itself to making everyday challenges feel so much heavier. 

Though the holidays are a time of joy for many, the societal obligations that families feel can make December a struggle. This is often multiplied for those who have loved ones with special needs. It’s important to remember that the reason for the season is love, generosity, and coming together as a community. 

When you start feeling overwhelmed, know that your kids probably are too. At that point, it’s time to take a step back and remember what really matters. Get rid of the guilt and give everyone around you a heaping dose of grace. 


Planning and preparedness are important when life gets busy, but it’s just as important to remember that less is more and kids will be kids (and that’s OK!). 

What are your biggest struggles during the month of December? Be sure to share this post on social media so that others receive these important reminders.

For more tips, tricks, and tidbits, enroll now for our online self-paced course!

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