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10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holidays with your Special Needs Family

At the risk of sounding like Mrs. Grinch, I have a confession. I don’t like the holidays. There, I said it. Perhaps if we could go back to celebrating Halloween and Thanksgiving prior to the barrage of decorations, cards, food, dinner party invitations, commitments, more food, and endless marketing campaigns, I might be more amenable to this time of year. I am not, and not for the reason those of you who know me might think.

I have two children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and other special needs. All of these images of the holidays that often bring feelings of joy, love and excitement used to bring feelings of anxiety and confusion for my family. Thankfully, with the help of many years of therapy, both of my sons are now able to participate in many of the year-end celebrations with less stress on them and us.

Holidays are typically about traditions. Here is the thing I have learned about traditions: They are wonderful if they are working. I remember as a newly-married Jewish woman to a man who had been raised Catholic, I had conversations with my husband about our shared vision of family traditions. Little did we know that in two years we would welcome our first son and learn that he had different needs, which would necessitate new traditions. Before I heard the words “sensory processing disorder” (a condition that exists when sensory signals do not always get organized into appropriate responses), I knew something about the world was not working for my son. Events and celebrations that were supposed to be joyful for him and us were stressful at best and disastrous more often than not.

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To finish reading the story and see the full list of tips, visit The Mighty website:

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