All year long we advocate for our students. We offer services in the classroom and provide strategies to teachers to include our special needs students. On social media, I see lots of SLPs promoting businesses that work at inclusion too, like Toys ‘R Us who offers sensory friendly shopping events.
The holidays are probably the toughest time of year for many of our students, especially those with an ASD diagnosis or social communication disorder. Between the disruption of routines (my schedule is simply an optimistic idea these days) and the sensory overload (Constant music and cookies at snack! and lunch! and again at snack! Plus, the overwhelming scent of pine!) it’s no wonder that many of our young ones look like they’d like to climb under the covers and reemerge sometime in January.
But hibernation isn’t really an option and this is a great opportunity to assist families in managing challenging behaviors out in the real world.
Preparation is going to be key. Advent calendars (really, any calendar) are a great way to show the sequence of events leading up to the holiday. Helping older children strategize before events will allow them to identify possible pitfalls and coping strategies. Routines can be established through traditions. Adult role models can demonstrate flexibility and help pick and choose events based on a child’s ability.
The December ASHA Leader features my article on “Full Inclusion Holidays” with a number of specific activities you can incorporate. To read it in its entirety, click here. For a downloadable handout (free) you can share with caregivers, click here.
And because the holidays include a broad range of ages, you may want to revisit a post I did a few years ago on accommodating the hard-of-hearing adult. You can find it here.