Surviving The Holiday’s SPED Style | Special Education Decoded

– Every year we have a tradition. As shoppers hit the
stores on Black Friday, our family stays in and begins
decorating for Christmas. Now this used to be easy,
relaxing and festive. With old-time music
playing in the background, we would unbox our tree, decorate it with ornaments
collected over generations, and chug a gallon of fresh hot chocolate. Then our son began walking,
and his curiosity took hold. It started with him taking a couple of ornaments off the tree. But as years passed,
and his behavior issues began to rear their ugly heads,
the destruction took hold. Now his curiosity has morphed into pure joy at breaking things, testing their durability with every throw. When he broke, no, when
he shattered a couple of priceless family
heirloom-style ornaments, we decided enough was enough. Now we put only plastic
ornaments on the tree, keeping anything we actually care about packed away for someday. Even still, he absolutely
loves taking decorations down, lining them up on the nearest table, and trying his best to tear
them apart piece by piece. And then the wrapped presents,
well any found in plain sight don’t tend to stay wrapped long. So we often keep those hidden, too. Christmas music is too loud for him, though he doesn’t mind
yelling and screaming at the top of his lungs. Like millions of families
across the world, the Christmas season has
most certainly changed for us over the past few years. Anxiety, excitement, changes
to the way the house looks, all lead to seasonal behavior issues, which at times can be overwhelming, making us wanna just put away the tree. So how do parents of
children with special needs make it through this time of year? Well, with the help of our
special education expert team, we have uncovered four tips
that actually work for us and countless other parents. My name is Luke, and
welcome to this episode of Special Education Decoded. (energetic music) Before we dive in and help SPED parents make it through the holiday season, I’m hoping you can help. On the bottom right-hand
side of your screen, you will see a little logo
with the word subscribe on it. Click that real quick. Thank you so much. Between the temper tantrums and the severe overwhelming
anxiety many children with special needs face during
this great season of change, how do we get through it all in one piece? Let’s discuss the four
holiday survival tips many SPED parents use. Number one, keep your routines consistent. Wherever possible, keep the
normal daily routines in place. For anything additional,
create a schedule, either written or visual, whether that’s shopping,
errands, school functions, present wrapping or, of course,
when family comes to visit. Number two, control
the energy you project. It’s a fact that children
feed off of their environment. This includes the emotions you project. If you feel overly anxious,
chances are they will, too. Remain calm, at least around them. This is much easier said than done. However, it’s so important
that we created an entire video on your wellbeing as a parent
of a child with special needs. Take a look at that video for
more insight into that topic. One immediate fix is to
discuss anything overwhelming or anxiety-filled out
of your child’s earshot. Number three, plan ahead. This sometimes is easier said than done. However, the important part to remember is that planning ahead has more to do with your child being in the
know than it does for you, though helping you is a natural byproduct. First, make a list of
to-dos for a week at a time. Handle that list in small doses. Before winter break starts, try and do as many of those items as you can while your children are in school. Now for long out-of-the-house
stretches with your children, plan times for decompression breaks. This can include 30-minute lunch breaks or park breaks in the middle of the day, or even preplanned stops if
you’re driving a long distance. For long in-the-house
stretches with your child, plan times to get out of the
house and burn off some energy. This could include parks
if the weather’s nice, or indoor playgrounds such
as those found at McDonald’s if the weather’s cold. Also, be sure to engage
your child in activities. This can include sorting
toys while you clean, or even have your child help you clean. You could also play an indoor game after an item on the list, or the series of items have been done. Number four, it’s important to remember that extra incentives are okay. This method is often used by parents in times of extra chaos, which is the definition of the
holidays for many children. If you have a reward
system already in place, increase the frequency of the reward or the means of gaining the reward, such as stickers or coins. If you don’t have one in place yet, this is a great time to implement one. Examples include sticker charts. Children can earn coins, with
access to a toy treasure box once enough coins are reached. Many parents find reward charts work well, especially for older children. Lastly, increase the level
of positive feedback. Use often if your child is behaving. Important, much higher frequency is needed during times of change. For me, I find myself just
harping on the bad behaviors and overlooking the good. This is never healthy, but especially during
times of added stress. Of course there are many
more tips that will work, based on your child’s specific triggers. For us, as I mentioned, we
keep the noise level down as much as possible. We also keep anything breakable
out of our son’s reach, or away safely in a box. This way we don’t get mad when something is dropped or broken. We keep most of the presents hidden until they’re ready to actually be opened. This way, we prevent any tension created when our son decides to start
tearing open random presents, some of which aren’t even his. We work with our son
daily to create a schedule so he knows what
activities will take place on that specific day. Knowing what’s coming up
seems to help prepare him for the actual outing or activity. We learned to pivot. As an example, when he
didn’t wanna venture out to see Santa, we ended up
having my dad come over, dressed him up as Santa, and took some family
fun pictures together. Also, this is extremely important, we ensure our daughter has the support and attention she needs to
enjoy the Christmas season by not only focusing on
our son’s wants and needs. Too often the siblings of
children with special needs get completely overlooked. This leads to them seeking our attention in ways they see working
for their brother or sister, such as behaviors. Ensuring siblings have
the attention they need is so important, we made an entire video dedicated to this topic. For more information on
that, watch our video titled Overcoming the
Dangers SPED Siblings Face. Lastly, we continue to
schedule our personal breaks to ensure our bucket is full and that we have enough of ourselves left to give both of our children and others during this magical time of year. Though items on the list
change as a child ages, the most important thing to do is plan. It’s impossible to plan for everything, but just like any school break, any change in a routine, or
anything new that surfaces, the ability to plan ahead will always help reduce behavior issues. What have you done to help your family get through the busy holiday season? Please, leave a comment
with items that have worked. That concludes our episode on Surviving the Holidays SPED Style. For more information regarding our one-on-one tutoring programs or our inclusive IEP services, check out the description of this video. From all of us at, thank you for watching this episode of Special Education Decoded. We’ll catch you in the next video. (electronic zaps)

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