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Quick Tips to Assist With Sensory Overload During the Holiday Season

Quick Tips to Assist With Sensory Overload During the Holiday Season

Updated on: 12/21/2021

The holiday season brings a lot of opportunities and experiences with busy or large crowds, holiday music, bright lights and new or different foods. It is important to realize that many of these experiences may easily cause sensory overload for some children resulting in an overreaction, meltdown or other sensory-related behavior.

Little girl smiling and playing in color ball pit.

Sensory overload occurs when our body is getting more input from our senses than the brain is able to sort through and process. This overstimulation could be caused by a variety of sensory stimuli including crowded and loud areas, smelly cafeterias, and loud or unexpected noises. As an adult or individual who has identified their sensory-related triggers, one may be able to deal with these discomforts, but as a child with sensory processing issues, the overload is much more intense.

Now let’s think about a large family gathering, for instance. The smell of the food cooking in the kitchen, the timer goes off in the oven, the echo of people’s voices visiting in the living room, and crowded or limited space can all be very overwhelming and lead to sensory overload in children. Many of these variables are outside of a child’s control and when they are unable to cope with it, may lead to a meltdown.

Quick Tips to Assist with Sensory Overload During the Holiday Season

  • Use of a visual schedule
  • Avoid crowded areas or utilize noise-canceling headphones
  • Take frequent breathing or movement breaks
  • Create a “safe” or “calming” spot during family gathers for overwhelming situations
  • Altru Pediatric Therapy
  • Create a sensory on-the-go kit

Sensory On-The-Go Kit

Building a kit to keep in your car, your child’s backpack, wherever you see fit can be a great way to help your child cope with the overstimulation they may feel during this busy time of year. Ideas for a Sensory On-The-Go Kit may include:

  • Container to keep all items in
  • Hand fidgets
  • Stress ball
  • Pop it fidget
  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Crunchy snacks such as raw veggies, pretzels, beef jerky, crackers, etc.
  • Bubbles
  • Headphones with small player to listen to calming music
  • Noise cancelling headphones to wear in loud environments
  • Weighted lap pad or blanket
  • Sensory Bottle (You can find ideas on Pinterest to make your own at home!)
  • Small tag blanket

If your child struggles with loud noises, bright lights, difficulty with being in large crowds, picky eating, frequent meltdowns, or frequent aggression, your child may have sensory processing difficulties. Altru Pediatric Therapy can help, please call to schedule an Occupational Therapy sensory evaluation at 701.780.2477.

Additional Resources and References