TRADITIONS Holidays and Gatherings and MY Child

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One of the hardest things about raising a child who has challenges is the question: "Can we participate in this tradition?" Whether it is Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's or simply a birthday party, there are often many things to consider:

  • Researching the event to see if it is appropriate or feasible for my child
  • Allergies to mainstream and popular party foods
  • Sensory Overload
  • Family members who just don't "get it"
  • Preparing the child (helping him to know what to expect)
  • Helping the child to be flexible when "out of the ordinary" happens
  • Educating family and friends with tips on helping the child participate
  • Helping people with gift ideas

Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

1) Be bold in researching the event. Call or email the organizer with your specific questions.

2) Check out the menu or available foods or snacks that will be available at the event. If the food or snacks are inappropriate for your child, make your own. (Believe us, we know it is exhausting to always have to be prepared with your own snack, but you would rather have an alternative than be sorry.)

3) Do some sensory work with your child before attending the event. Arm and Leg Squeezes, Bear Hugs, Scratchy glove. [If you want the details on how to do these particular activities, send us an email at, we'll be happy to share.] True story: We worked with the family of a little boy who did not like to wear clothing. Any clothing. Obviously, that doesn't bode well in public. The mom of this boy did the activities we are suggesting over a period of time and he began to be comfortable with clothing!

4) Prepare a communication, a "fact sheet" for others with pertinent information that would be helpful for them to know about your child. This could include medical information, food restriction information, a list of gift ideas, what comforts your child, what upsets your child. Whatever you think would be helpful. Be careful not to make it too long or no one will read it. For example, when Amy attended events folks were hesitant to ever offer her any kind of food because they knew she was tube fed and didn't take food by mouth. We were able to inform them that it was important for Amy to be a part of the group -- that they should give her the same snack as all the other kids -- and that she would be safe. Other parents have used the "fact sheet" to share about allergies and to tell the importance of a favorite toy.

5) Do some mindset work with your child prior to the outing or event. Check out our blog post "It is Not Good Enough" and apply your particular situation to the tips we give. The families with whom we have worked have reported that this one tip has changed their lives and the lives of their children.

Sometimes applying these few tips can make all the difference in your child (and you) enjoying holiday traditions. We wish you all the best as you daily navigate how to parent this beautiful, precious child of yours.

And remember...if you would like some extra support in your parenting, we would love to walk alongside you for a while in one of our private coaching programs. Contact us at

With much love,

Tom and Julie

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