By Kathy Kuhl
[Note below about last week’s prize winners.]
Who isn’t distracted this time of year? Lovely ornaments, music, delicious foods—but more to do, too.
It’s an especially tough time for our children and teens who are distractible or who have sensory processing difficulties: the intensity can be overwhelming. When he was small, my distractible son was so frustrated by seeing presents under the tree that we had to wait until Christmas Eve to set any out.
Nothing under the tree is okay with me. Do what works for you and your family.
To help your distracted child through the holidays:
- Expect less for this season. Work on maintaining academic skills, especially for younger children.
- Read aloud often. My son’s favorite version of Dicken’s Christmas Carol features Quentin Blake’s cartoons. He loves it because the cartoons are fantastical, and he says Blake pays more attention to the text than other illustrators.
- Emphasize crafts and serving others. My friend Rebecca, homeschooling her four children, is teaching her children to plan and execute projects while making gifts for family. Because setting up for crafts is so much work, that’s the focus of school at her house this month.
My friend Carol Reynolds wrote about passing along a tradition of serving others, as a kind of spiritual heirloom. I like that, and it’s a great counter to the commercialism of the season.
- Kids who are distractible, sensory-averse, or have communication disorders will benefit if you read Carol Barnier’s e-book, Holiday Social Skills for your Wired Child. It’s worth getting just for the cover photo:
- Fidget toys make great stocking stuffers and help our kids sit through concerts and services. A fidget is something you fidget with to keep you from fidgeting. Not every fidget toy is right for everyone. If it distract others, distracts the child from listening, or drives mom and dad crazy, it’s the wrong fidget.
For example, last time, I wrote about how to make squeeze balls from balloons and rice.
One of my favorite fidgets is the Tangle Jr. A friend gave me one and I liked it so much I had trouble putting it down:
These Wacky Tracks are also fun to fiddle with:
Here are some other ways to get the wiggles out. Balance boards such as this:
Using a slackline builds strength your core, improves balance, and is fun. I want to try one:
(There are more tools for out-of-the-box, distractible learners at my online store.)
The holidays are also tough for parents who are distractible or have sensory processing issues themselves. So try to relax, enjoy, and give thanks. As one mom told me when I interviewed her for Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner:
“Sometimes Mom is the one who needs the time out.”
So take care of yourself.
One Christmas I had bronchitis. All I could do was on the sofa. I didn’t write cards, I didn’t bake cookies, I didn’t decorate the tree, I didn’t cook a feast. We skipped many things we usually do, and my kids and husband did some great work. We had a good Christmas.
It really is okay to have carryout pizza for your holiday meal, or leftovers, or whatever you want. Choose what you’re going to be busy about, and enjoy what you can.
Curl up with a cup of tea and a good book.
Speaking of books, congratulations to Megan, Chris, and Jennifer, who won copies of my books. Thanks to everyone who completed the survey.
Thanks for sharing these great ideas on DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link share. Surely they made Christmas brighter for many families.
Thanks, Jolene. You and your friends may also like the links and illustrations I post daily on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Kathy-Kuhl-179410082267311/?ref=hl
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