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Advocating for Your Special Needs Child During the Holidays

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. But for families with special needs children, it can also bring a unique set of challenges. The specialists at Virtually ConnectEd offer practical tips on how to advocate for your special needs child during the holidays. By advocating effectively, you can ensure that your child has a safe, enjoyable, and inclusive holiday experience.

Plan Ahead. Start your holiday season by planning ahead. Create a detailed schedule, outlining the various holiday events and gatherings your child will participate in. This allows you to anticipate potential challenges and make necessary accommodations.

Communicate Your Child's Needs. Open, honest communication is key. Reach out to family members, friends, and hosts of holiday gatherings to explain your child's needs, preferences, and any sensory sensitivities. The more they understand, the more supportive they can be.

Create a Safe Space. Designate a quiet, safe space where your child can retreat if the holiday festivities become overwhelming. Ensure this space is well-equipped with sensory tools, headphones, or calming activities to help your child regulate their emotions.

Be Flexible. Flexibility is crucial during the holidays. Understand that your child's needs may change from day to day, and it's okay to adjust plans and expectations accordingly.

Educate Others. Use the holiday season as an opportunity to educate family members and friends about your child's condition. Share informative resources or engage in discussions that foster understanding and empathy.

Advocate for Inclusivity. Advocate for inclusive holiday activities that your child can enjoy. This might involve modifying traditions or finding new ways to involve your child in age-appropriate and enjoyable activities.

Prepare Visual Schedules. Visual schedules and social stories can help your child better understand the holiday events and routines. Use visuals to explain what to expect, which can reduce anxiety and promote a smoother experience.

Self-Care. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Advocating for your child can be emotionally and physically demanding. Prioritize self-care to ensure you have the energy and patience to support your child effectively.

Seek Support. Reach out to local or online support groups for parents of special needs children. They can provide valuable advice, a sense of community, and practical solutions.

Celebrate Achievements. Celebrate your child's achievements, no matter how small. The holiday season is an excellent time to acknowledge their progress and growth.

Advocating for your special needs child during the holidays can be both challenging and rewarding. By planning ahead, communicating effectively, and fostering a supportive environment, you can ensure that your child has a positive and inclusive holiday experience. Remember that you're not alone, and there are resources and communities available to provide guidance and support throughout the holiday season and beyond.

If you'd like to talk to one of our specialists for support, contact us at

Photo by Rajiv Perera on Unsplash

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