Supporting Persons with Developmental Disabilities through the Holidays
- Category: Mental Health
- Posted On:
The holiday season is here! Holidays, however, often signal a time of stress for the developmentally disabled. Anticipation and small changes create anxiety. For example, seeing Christmas lights each day for weeks makes waiting for Christmas day difficult and confusing. Individuals with developmental disabilities often communicate with behavior changes, and the message may be stress or anxiety over holiday changes, schedule changes, and family contacts.
You can help individuals with developmental disabilities safely participate in holiday activities, which also increases their independence. Here are some ideas to create a positive time of celebration for each family member.
- Many times, extended families may not really understand the individual with the disability. Educate them.
- It is better to give than to receive. Many times we think our family member with a disability should only be the recipient of gifts. Might that person enjoy a trip to a dollar store to purchase a gift for a family member? You can also offer to buy gifts for him/her to give.
- Prepare in advance a way that your family member can participate in holiday traditions. Find pictures of last year’s celebration.
- Put together a schedule of events for your party. Whether in words or pictures, let the person know the planned order. Give that individual a job to do.
- Designate a safe zone. Show the family member this quiet and designated space.
- Crafting is a great way for disabled adults to engage with the holiday season without being overloaded by busy holiday events.
- Playing holiday music when the season arises is one way to get disabled adults involved with the holidays and feel like they are celebrating together.
- Don’t over-schedule, and try to keep to a normal routine.
- Bring your own food and supplies.
- Take two cars.
- Plan activities at which no one has to behave.
- Avoid crowds.
- Don’t be afraid to say no.
- Try to keep calm.