Giving the Gift of Sensory-Regulation: Supporting a Happy Holiday Season for All  

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, that is, until…  

Sensory overload can happen to anyone. It is not specific to any single age or disability. In fact, it can also happen to people who do not have a disability.  Whether your sensory systems are functioning as usual for you or disordered, your body needs both sensory input and a break from sensory input.  

The holidays can be a joyous but chaotic time for the whole family. Planning ahead to ensure your personal sensory needs are met, as well as those of your loved one with a disability, can make the difference between experiencing a beloved tradition and struggling to fulfill holiday obligations. In this article, we will share time-honored tips and innovative ideas for managing sensory needs throughout the holiday season from family members, professionals, and self-advocates.  

 Try out these holiday planning and self-regulatory tools.  

Download the Sensory Systems and How to Meet Their Needs  

Get to know the eight sensory systems, what they do for the body, and some quick ideas for getting sensory input for each system.  

Download the Holiday Mindfulness Profiles  

Use these worksheets to identify your own needs, as well as the needs of your loved one with a disability. Identify what you find enjoyable, what you dread, and rethink your schedule with time to meet your personal needs. Then, use the second page to discuss and plan for your loved ones needs. 

 Download the Ground Yourself in the Moment Worksheet  

Apply this strategy of counting down with sensory input to calm yourself or your loved one when you feel anxious. Use this worksheet to help yourself or your loved one through each step in the countdown process.  

Additional Resources:

Home for the Holidays: The Gift of Positive Behavior Support 

Holiday Survival Tips for Families with Special Healthcare Needs