Tips for the Holidays and Travel

This time of year is packed with different holidays and much travel. Its either a time that’s super fun to be with families and friends during gatherings and parties.  Or it could be a time of stress and anxiety.

Let’s face it, its time when you double your grocery shopping and some of you may be organizing a dinner in your home. The routine in the home is going to change or if you’re traveling to be with family/ friends its going to be different. If you’re child has sensory processing difficulties.

*Anxiety can lead to or appear as disruptive behavior

These are children with social anxiety resulting from their sympathetic system firing off and causing a fight or flight.

Anxiety can also be caused due to a child’s limited communication or expressive abilities, the child’s limited skills in handling/ coping skills and organize that information.

*Communication issues- child who have limited language or vocabulary are unable to express their needs. If they don’t get understood this can lead to emotional dysregulation resulting in a behavior. To do anything.


* Have realistic expectations for these children. You know what may be the triggers for child.

So they feel comfortable and they will come up to you.

* validating their feelings. Giving them assurance that you’re not going to ask them to do things that may be uncomfortable but that there would be sensory items that they could use to help through such as using headphone, certain scents such as lavender can have a calming effect.

* Think and walk through the situation with children. Reading them a social story of what to expect in  the days to come will help. This includes going shopping  and attending functions.


Let them know you will be going shopping and there may be more people around.

Let them know where to find their sensory items should they need it,

Or if its better for you, you can make arrangements for you child to be cared for at that time. This is your discretion on how much stimulation your child can take at this time.

Attending functions both at and outside

* If the function is at home or in another place.

  • Make sure you bring foods that your child will eat,
  • Get there a little earlier so you child has time to warm up to the people
  • Make sure they know where to get their sensory bag pack is for them to retrieve their sensory items should they need them.
  • Read them a social story where the event will be taking place, what would be the expectations such as relatives / friends will be coming.
  • Everyone would be sitting at the table and food will passed around, there will be people talking and laughing and having fun, there may be music in the background.
  • Child will have a chance to play with their friends/ relatives or if your child is more solitary and needs alone time- this is where they can get their head phones, coloring books or games to play.
  • Prepare their sensory bag pack where they will know where to get items that would help them such as noise cancelling headphones, fidgets, taking deep breathes and a corner with cushions for then to reorganize away from the hustle and bustle ( if this is in your home).
  • If they should start feeling upset or overwhelmed to let you know. State what you’d like for them to do.

This is an example of a social story for Thanksgiving from PositivelyAutism.com.

Thanksgiving Social Skill Story

Social skills templates:

How to Use Personalized Stories

Travel plans:

Depending on the sensory needs of the child, here are some things you may consider

If you are going by flight:

  • remember its going to be crowded, noisy, may be a change in sleep pattern for the child and yourself.
  • you will be sitting in close proximity with others on the flight.
  • Taking off in the flight may cause some discomfort for the child.


  • Noise cancelling head phones or ear plus
  • Sun glasses
  • Fidgets
  • Chewies that can be clipped on to their shirt
  • Sensory snack kit- crunchy items, lollipops
  • Practice on what may be involved in the trip: What they may encounter.
  • Talking them through what to expect and where the items may be found.
  • Favorite blanket
  • Toiletries that are familiar to them so that they don not have to adjust to new scents or texture
  • More frequent stops to give them time to regulate