Billing Questions? Click here!

Sensory and the Holidays

A helpful guide to helping your sensory processing child enjoy the Holiday season.


The tree has been decorated and the stockings are hung. For most people this is one of the happiest times of year, but for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) this fun filled season can be the most stressful time of year.

Sensory Processing is the way a person’s brain receives, processes and responds to sensory input from their environment. This can include processing from any of the sensory systems in our body: Visual, Auditory, Touch, Position/Movement, and Smell. Children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) have trouble receiving and responding appropriately to the sensory input. This trouble can easily result in meltdowns and mayhem for the child and parents alike!

The holidays present unique challenge for children dealing with SPD. This is because there are many different sights, smells, and sounds associated with the holiday season. For kiddos dealing with SPD this can trigger a ‘fight or flight’ response. Here are some tips and tricks you can use to have a better Holiday season for you and your loved one.

Plan your Day:

We all know that shopping malls and stores are very busy during the Holidays. Try going in the morning or evenings with less crowds. Consider online shopping or pick up options if these are available in your area.

Get Plenty of Movement:

If your child seeks movement throughout their day, allow them adequate time during the busy holiday season to burn off energy. Go for a walk, bundle up to play at the playground, crash on couch cushions or even carry the presents from room to room. These are all great sensory tools to provide adequate input before a long day of travel or holiday gatherings.

Attend Sensory Sensitive Events:

In the community there are many sensory sensitive events that do not have the lights or sounds that can trigger a meltdown. Here at Associates in Pediatric Therapy we are host Sensitive Santa events at many of our locations. Checkout APT’s Facebook for more information!

Prepare a Cuddle Corner:

Going out of town for the holidays or hosting people at your house? Prepare a small area just for your little one full of calm down toys Allow them to go to this space whenever they begin to feel overwhelmed. Items to keep in this corner include pillows, books, a tablet, headphones, calming sensory light, sensory rice or putty.


A little bit of info goes a long way! Talk to family members at the beginning of a party or gathering to explain that your little one has challenges with sensory integration. Let them know that your child handles sound, smells, and sights differently and may have a difficult time when everyone is together.

Seek Help:

Speak with your Pediatric Occupational Therapists about strategies they recommend that are personalized to your child. They work with your child weekly and will know what strategies work best!

Molly Lester, MS OTR/L