Make a Plan
Families of children with SPD need to be prepared just like a good Girl Scout or Boy Scout. If you will be eating Thanksgiving dinner away from home pack some foods or snacks that you know your child will eat. Some children may only like certain foods the way you prepare them at home and not the way Grandma or Auntie make it. We know that being “hangry” is real, and having snacks in advance can hopefully prevent a sensory meltdown.
Also, pack some games, activities, or a tablet. Yes, I know there are concerns about children having too much screen time, but if your child is calm and it works for you all, then do it. Don’t worry about Great Uncle Bob complaining about how tech-dependent your child may be. Some other things to pack include a weighted blanket, a book, noise cancelling headphones.
Be the Host or Hostess
You might think this idea is a little crazy, but let’s think about this. Hosting Thanksgiving dinner at your house means that your kiddos have just about everything they need already in a familiar place. Their room, toys, food, coping mechanisms don’t have to packed and towed across town. The transition may be easier for your child to deal with especially during the overwhelming holiday season.
Communicate With Family and Friends Before Thanksgiving
If you haven’t had “the talk” with you family and friends, do it before the big family meal. Do they know the difference between a spoiled toddler having a tantrum and a real sensory meltdown? Do they understand that your child may not give hugs and kisses to everyone? Are they ok with your child making little or no eye contact? I’m going to assume that your friends and family know that your child has sensory struggles, but do they really know what that means? It doesn’t need to be a long detailed conversation outlining all the effects of sensory processing disorder. If you’re looking for some help explaining sensory processing disorder to your family and friends, click here.
Get Some Rest
Since there may be alot of traveling, socializing, and excitement rest is paramount. Set aside some time for a nap or quiet play.
Surviving Thanksgiving dinner and managing sensory struggles is challenging. Frustrations and anxiety may run high. Be gracious to yourself, your child, and your family. Tempers and meltdowns are bound to happen. Someone may not be accommodating to your child’s needs. Accept that preparation and planning can only carry you so far. Just enjoy the day and time with your family whether it’s for one meal or the whole day.