The holidays can be overwhelming for anyone with busy travel days, social gatherings, and new scents and foods filling the home by busy cooks in the kitchen. This Thanksgiving, address you or your loved one’s needs by planning ahead for the holiday with sensory-friendly adaptations, favorite food substitutions, and mindful moments to de-stress.

Plan Ahead

Families & friends should plan ahead and all be aware of the day’s itinerary and accommodations. Pack a “safety net bag” with calming items, address any substitutes, and if needed, discuss an exit strategy.

Set Expectations

Routines will be broken around holiday celebrations so it’s important to set expectations through a picture schedule, written timeline, checklist, or conversation; Share details about the day’s process, attendees, sights, sounds and smells that the individual will encounter.

Create a Safe Space

Plan a safe space in advance, for your loved one to take sensory breaks when needed; dim the lights, reduce noise and provide other specific comforts to help keep calm. Keep the safe space undisturbed.

Sensory Awareness

Keep guests and/or hosts aware of sensory needs, so substitutes or accommodations can be made. Incorporate sensory breaks in the safe space, to prevent the individual from becoming overwhelmed.

Favorite Fall Backs

Make sure there are foods he/she enjoys on the menu; do not try to force new foods or textures, and pack some favorite foods as a backup. Also pack favorite sensory items, toys, books, and clothes to ensure comfort and calmness.

Download our 5 Sensory-Friendly Thanksgiving Tips infographic to help plan your holiday.