For many families the New Year represents a time of celebration and joy, it can be a time of appreciation and new beginnings and provides an opportunity to gather with family and friends to begin the year with those that are most important and special to us in our life by creating fun and positive memories to last us throughout the year.
However, this time year can also be a time of worry, change and stress for our families with children with Autism and related sensory processing disorders. It is no secret that the children that we serve at have unique needs and many of the things that are hallmarks of traditional news year’s celebrations such as fireworks, larger crowds, changes to schedules or routines, less familiar family and friends, different foods and even loud or sudden noises to name just a few, may be overwhelming and produce fear, anxiety and disruption in a child experience. Often our families during this time of year may find themselves trying to avoid, limit their activity or even stay home to prevent their child from experiencing this level of unease or disruption. However, this does not have to be the case and with a few simple modifications it is possible to not have to worry as much about what the New Year celebration may bring and still create an environment where the whole family may participate and create limitless fun and happy memories together. Below are some suggestions about how to create some of these special New Year’s family moments and enjoy the holidays together. From our Galvin family to yours, I hope you have a joy filled holiday season and we can’t wait to see you back in the New Year!
Recommendations for a Fun Filled New Year Celebration:
- Count Down to Noon instead of Midnight-
If you are concerned about disrupting your child’s regular nighttime routine too much, counting down to noon can be a great way to have your child participate in the full family celebration. This will ensure that your child does not feel left out from family activities or feel pressure to stay up late with other family members.
- Create a Sensory-Friendly Ball Drop-
For the sensory-friendly ball drop fill a grocery/small trash bag or balloon with all the confetti and streamers you desire. As a family you can then toss into the air or open the balloon to pour out the confetti as you complete your countdown. Bonus points as this sensory friendly ball drop can also be done if at Noon if you choose to complete that earlier countdown.
- Create a New Year Sensory Bottle
To create a new year sensory bottle, you can take a normal disposable water bottle and fill it with New Year’s related goodies. This can include glitter, confetti or even small streamers or stickers. This sensory bottle will be an excellent coping tool for your child to use if things become a bit overwhelming.
- Watch Videos of Fireworks on a compute or tablet-
Instead of watching fireworks outside or in person find videos online of different firework celebrations. This will allow you to control both the volume and duration of the firework celebration in addition to being able to pause or turn off the fireworks if it is becoming to overwhelming for your child.
- Create A Pillow or Blanket Fort for a Family Movie Night-
Gather up all the blankets and pillows you can find, bonus points if some of the blankets are weighted to help with some of the deep pressure needs of your child and pick out a fun movie to watch together in the evening before bed. This is great way to bond and create fun memories as a family while in a more stable, calm, and quiet environment.