Holiday Tips

Embrace the Holiday Fun with Play Therapy!
Embrace the Holiday Fun with Play Therapy! 1000 667 PTN Chicago

While we encourage at-home play therapy all year long, engaging your children in creative therapies during the holidays can be particularly fun and festive. Of course, we realize that the holidays come with their own sets of stressors and time constraints, so here are a few simple ideas to let you enjoy playful physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy with your little ones this holiday season without adding any more items to your shopping list.

  1. Singing holiday songs.

Christmas carols and holiday tunes are pretty much everywhere this month. Take the opportunity to mix up the usual songs that you sing with your child by adding in a few simple holiday favorites. Singing is great for building confidence and practicing better speech.

If your child prefers to stick to year-round classics like “The Wheels on the Bus,” try to add in some holiday fun by singing about the Santa on the bus or the menorah on the bus. Have fun thinking of different holiday objects that you can create verses about. This is a great way to practice critical thinking and creative decision making with your child.

  1. Play in the snow.

If you happen to live somewhere chilly, take the opportunity to enjoy fresh snowfalls with your little one. You can practice gross motor skills by packing snowballs and throwing them at (non-human) targets or by building a snowman. In warmer climates, you can jump in puddles after winter rainstorms.

Just remember to be cognizant of the needs and comfort of your child. Bundle them up in waterproof, comfortable clothes and don’t try to force them to engage in activities that “other kids” like. You’ll both have a much better time if you embrace the experience without expectations or a preset agenda.

  1. Make a holiday sensory bin.

Many unique textures are much more readily available during the holiday season for creating new sensory experiences. Search your box of decorations for materials like soft tinsel, curling ribbon, and wooly pretend snow.

  1. Decorate a gingerbread house.

This is a great way to practice fine motor skills and direction following. Depending upon the age of your child, you may want to build the actual house in advance to avoid frustration or waiting. Once the house is ready, your child can help you spread frosting, choose which candies to place where, and practice counting the candy already on the house.

As always, with each of these activities, the key is to have fun while working on important developmental skills.  We hope you enjoyed this little list of activities and, if you’re still looking for gift ideas, be sure to follow us on Facebook for our 2018 Toy Takeover.

Trick or Treating with Special Needs Children
Simple Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween with Your Special Needs Child
Simple Tips for a Fun and Safe Halloween with Your Special Needs Child 1000 1000 Triston Kee

Halloween is a favorite holiday that only seems to be growing in popularity – where we live, it seems like just as many people decorate their homes for Halloween as for Christmas! But when you have a child with special needs, all the jumps and scares of October 31 can be more than a little overwhelming. If you’re worried about how your little one will handle trick-or-treating, or if you’ve had tough Halloweens in years past, here are a few tips that will hopefully make this holiday all “treat” and no “trick.”

Costume Tips

When selecting or making a costume for your child, consider their comfort and safety above all else. A lot of very cute costumes aren’t well made and use rough Velcro, poorly fitted elastic, sharp plastic, and/or cheap fabrics. If you have the time, consider putting together a costume out of clothes or fabrics that you already know your child likes. A scratchy tag or uncomfortable hat can make the anxiety of Halloween that much worse for a child with special needs.

Likewise, try to avoid costumes that use masks and dark colors. The brighter the costume, the safer your child will be while you walk around with them in your neighborhood. Maybe your little one would make a darling bumble bee or a beautiful, bright jack-o-lantern.

Trick-or-Treating Tips

If you decide to trick-or-treat around your neighborhood, there are a few different things that you can do to make the experience more enjoyable. First, go before dark. Crowds will be less intense, scary decorations will seem a lot less scary, and homeowners will be a lot more relaxed and accommodating.

You should also consider going out with at least one other adult and one other child, if possible. that way the other adult and child can approach doors first so that if anyone answers the door in a particularly frightening costume, or if they have a decoration that makes a scary noise, you’ll have a heads up and can skip that house or appropriately prepare your child for the experience.

You might also want to consider practicing the route with your child earlier in the week if you don’t go for walks often. And be aware that they may be perfectly happy going to just four or five houses to get the experience, especially if you have other activities planned at home.

Tips for Trick-or-Treating Alternatives

While the idea of not trick-or-treating may have broken your heart as a child, recognize that your own child may feel differently. He or she might have just as much fun enjoying an alternative Halloween experience.

For example, a lot of local libraries put on afternoon events on Halloween with craft making, carnival games, and story time. A special Halloween activity at the library or your local community center could be the perfect way to celebrate in a controlled, well-lit environment.

You could also consider putting on your own Halloween party with family members, friends from your neighborhood, or parents and kids from your child’s daycare or classroom, if they are old enough. This is obviously the option that takes the most work, but it also lets you control the environment and create an experience tailored to the needs of your child. Check out this blog for great tips on art projects that your child and his or her friends can enjoy together this Halloween.

For more tips specific to the unique needs of your child, feel free to give our office a call. We offer speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy in Chicago for all sorts of wonderful kids. We’d be happy to tell you more about what we do or answer any questions you may have.

Happy Halloween!

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