Inclusive Holiday Tips for IDD!

The holiday season is a time for us all to gather with our loved ones, enjoy food, and the holiday season

While for most the only thing they need to worry about is keeping the peace between family members, for others it can become much more overwhelming. The holiday season comes with more than merry cheer it also comes with changes in routine, loud music, and bright lights that can cause higher levels of stress. As a company that works so closely with those that have IDD we want to help those who may not know what to expect or how to be inclusive.

Signs of Being Overwhelmed/Overstimulated

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Examples of Triggers to be Mindful of

There could be many signs that someone is becoming overwhelmed during all of the festivities this holiday season. That’s why it is smart to ask beforehand of any usual signs that they might be becoming stressed out and what to do when this happens that can help relax them. By doing this it is not only appreciated by the person that has an intellectual disability, but also by their loved ones who want them to enjoy their time.

Tips that Can Help

Use a Sensory Friendly Kit

Having a sensory kit is beneficial all year round and it is best to have things inside that both calm and also alert the person that is using this. 1 in 20 people have SPD of some kind and could use a kit like this. Some items that can be useful are: noise reducing earmuffs or headphones, a wipeable weighted lap pad, fidget items, mood chart with pictures, gum, drawing supplies, etch-a-sketch, puzzles, stress balls, etc.

Create a Safe Space

A safe space is a great area to have for a person that can become overstimulated and lash out. If you can have this space available be sure to reference the signs above so that you know what to look for if someone needs a break from the event, but does not want to seem rude. If you think someone is becoming stressed/overstimulated you can ask them separately if they would like a breather away from everyone so that you do not embarrass them.

Try to Stick to a Routine

Routines can be vital and help things go more smoothly for everyone involved. To help, speak to people who are either attending or the ones hosting an event beforehand about arrival, activities, meals, etc. This will help because you can create a routine for your loved one with IDD ahead of time to prepare them for the event.

Food Separator Device

Have Special Plates

I know that personally I hate having my food touching and having a plate that divides everything or a food separator like the one on the left is a game changer. No food will touch and no sauces will mix together

Have the Ingredients to Recipes

Keep all the recipes around so that they can be referenced for their ingredients whether for allergies or for sensory issues.

Discuss Triggers Beforehand

Whether it is a casual family party or a formal dinner with RSVPs the best way to be prepared is to communicate beforehand. If you are the host of the even try to include a line on the RSVP for any allergies or disabilities to prepare for ahead of time. If it is possible have a room ready that is calm and quiet, this way if a guest becomes overwhelmed/overstimulated you can direct them to this room where they can relax themselves.

Have Headphones Available

Headphones can be great for both kids and adults with IDD/SPD. In a loud area stimulation can become overbearing and putting on headphones with the music you like or a tv show can help calm oneself very effectively


Callie Dresser

Social Media Coordinator

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