Holiday Madness Descending- How To Cope In Your Exceptional Family

‘Tis the season for fun, family, festivities and sensory overload. Yep, it’s the holidays, and as much as Exceptional Families love the holidays like Neuro Typical Families do, our kids usually have a harder time. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the family gatherings, gifts or other traditions that go with it. It’s usually all of the above combined that will send most Exceptional Kids (and their parents), over the edge into over stimulation and meltdown mode. So, as an Exceptional Family, what can you do to help your Exceptional Child cope better with the holidays? Here are some ideas:

  1. Structure what you can: I know, the holidays are all about unwinding and NOT structuring, but our kids need some kind of structure in order to function in the way they are used to functioning in day to day life. Make the structure natural for home life, but give them some sort of idea as to what will be expected of them.
  2. Prepare them for the craziness: Talk to your kids either verbally or with pictos, about what the holiday entails. This means discussing what is expected of each of us by family, friends, and with other traditions so that will know what is happening.
  3. Form your own family traditions: This hard been a hard one for me. I was always a stickler for doing everything the same way I or Dad was brought up. However, we learned with an Exceptional Child we would need to adjust our way of thinking so everyone would have a good holiday. Now my main concerns are health, happiness and fun all around. As long as those conditions are met, I know we are on the right path. This means allowing down time for our child as well as time spent with family and friends.
  4. Set aside down time as a nuclear family: I am a firm believer in ‘safe days’, that is, days where there is not too much stimulation from family or friends, so that the day runs smoothly and Michael feels calm (as do Dad and I). Let’s face it, every parent worries when their Exceptional Child is having a hard time, so if we learn to give time for our child to stim, regulate, and do what he needs to do, everything else will fall into place.
  5.  Take time for yourselves individually: It’s important that Exceptional Moms and Dads take time for themselves to recharge their batteries before doing anything else as individuals. It’s only when we feel calm and centered, that we can pass that message on to our children.
    Exceptional Parents,  how do you cope with the holidays in positive frame of mind?  It’s important that no matter what, you learn how to regulate your behavior and your family’s and remember that everyone being comfortable is the best way to go. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to a son with Autism, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at  

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