Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s usually filled with parties with family and friends. For the child with special needs, this might be a difficult time for them because it usually means a change in their daily routine. Meal times and allowing the child to have down time can really be effected by the holiday. By the same token, parents need to have the opportunity to enjoy the holiday as well. In order to do this, we as parents need to do a good job of balancing the change in routine with fun time with family and friends. How do we accomplish both successfully?
We do the best we can to make our child comfortable with the environment they are in, whether you are having guests over or you are attending someone else’s holiday feast. If you are guests in someone’s house and you know your child will not eat whatever is being served for dinner, bring your child’s favorite food and allow them to eat at the time they normally would at home; I’m sure your hosts will not mind if they don’t eat at the same time everyone else does. You can also invite your child to sit down with the rest of the guests during their meal time so he/she can still be included the conversation with family and friends if they chose to do so. Another suggestion is to bring your child’s favorite movie to watch in one of the spare rooms to provide some alone time if your child is feeling overwhelmed by all the commotion. Another option is to have the holiday dinner at your own house.
Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday, so we always have it at our house. My son will be eating his usual chicken nuggets and corn on the cob again this year. I know this, because he has already reminded me about it. When my son comes to me and says “I’m ready to eat” I feed him, even if I’m not finished preparing the Thanksgiving Feast for everyone else. Sometimes I can use a snack to hold him off until everyone else is ready to eat; I try to make him feel comfortable, so I give him a choice between the two. Whichever one he chooses is fine by me…all that matters is a happy kid on Thanksgiving! Another benefit to having it at your own house is that most kids with special needs are the most comfortable in their own surroundings, the same holds true for my son as well. Usually when we are at someone else’s house, the first question is “what time are we leaving?” I try not to give a specific time until later in the evening because he’ll hold me to whatever time I tell him. My goal is to make my son as comfortable as possible so that he can enjoy the holiday with family and friends and if my son is happy, I am happy!!