The holidays are an exciting time of the year. For some special needs families this is the time of year we love, loathe, and cry with laughter over the ridiculousness all at the same time. For this is the time of the year our child loves more than anything in the world, and their excitement becomes too much for them to control and sends them into a whirling frenzy around our homes, leaving us sitting there with our mouths open wondering what we even just witnessed.
I watch my child running around the house dressed for the summer (because my child still hasn’t gotten used to the transition of wearing winter clothes regardless that it is -10 degrees outside) screaming a shrill shriek of excitement that sounds like the battle cry of the Ewoks from the Battle of Endor, shaking violently like the Tasmanian Devil as he whirls past me, briefly stopping only to look out the window and lick it because snow is falling as if to actually catch a snowflake on his own tongue, all because we took the Christmas Tree out of the dusty basement. I many times think ‘this is what it would look like if ET had never been able to phone home’, and laugh.
For the families that can relate, it’s about to get as real as it was when Mel Gibson stormed the English countryside in Braveheart. And despite other’s knowledge we need family and friends’ help to survive our personal explosion known as the holiday season.
In today’s installment of Make It Accessible Monday we are going to talk about holiday gifts, and how to make them go as smoothly as possible. A lot can go wrong....just ask the dent in our drywall.
Sometimes gifts can become a struggle because of uncontrollable excitement, tiresome wrapping, and excessive waiting. Some kids with special needs lack of fine motor ability, poor muscle control, and understanding of waiting, which all play a role in how holiday gifts, in the blink of an eye, can go from something as Magical as your first time at Disney World...
...to a scene worthy of its own war movie starring Dwayne Johnson.
Today we are going to talk about Placement, Timing, and Presentation. After years of crazy holidays, here are the tips and tricks we have learned.
Many special needs kids understand Christmas is associated with presents and are confused when told to wait. Have the gifts hidden in another room and not under the tree. If you want them under the tree, have the tree in a room where the child won’t be spending a large amount of time so the family members won’t have to be continuously blocking the child from getting into all the gifts before gift opening time.
Try opening gifts right away. This eliminates the waiting factor. Also, if you are meeting in the evening time, opening gifts too close to bedtime will probably get the child too heightened, causing added stress to the family when they are trying to get the child to sleep. The earlier in the day gift opening occurs, the better. And let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy opening gifts right away!
Give presents unwrapped, out of the packaging, and already equipped with needed batteries. In essence the toy is ready to be played with immediately. Many children physically struggle unwrapping and opening gifts. Presenting them with a ready to play with toy, takes out the frustration and makes the gift purely a joyous occasion for the child. If the child enjoys having the gift wrapped but still struggles with the physical aspects of this, you can always place the toy in a gift bag. Our son likes unwrapping paper off a toy, but no bow or ties as these are a struggle and cause frustration. His toys are typically out of the packaging and are equipped with the needed batteries.
If you have a family with a special needs child coming to your home during the holiday season, ask them what you can do specifically to make your gathering more accessible for the child and less stressful for everyone. Your interest in their well being will mean a lot to them.
Let’s recap the ways to make holiday gifts go smoothly: placement of gifts, timing of opening, presentation of wrapping, and asking the families what is helpful. Making even one of these small simple changes will mean the world to a special needs family in your life. Happy Holidays from H-Bomb Ties.