Happy Thanksgiving eve! We are looking forward to all the food and family time tomorrow, and hopefully you are too.
Many of the kids here at SLPC have been preparing for Thanksgiving by reading all about it and holding a "practice" Thanksgiving with their therapists and stuffed animal friends. This is a great way not only to get a child talking and anticipating the sequence of events on the big day, but also to prepare him or her for the sensory aspects of Thanksgiving.
If your child has autism, sensory processing disorder, or other special needs that affect their sensory processing system, practicing before the big day can help reduce the stress of the holiday. Because Thanksgiving revolves around food, take a moment to discuss the different shapes, colors, smells, and tastes of the foods you'll be eating. What will the turkey look like before it's cooked? What about afterward? Will the potatoes be crispy like French fries or soft and mashed? A pie starts out as a circle, but what shape does it become when you cut it up?
Talk about how the routine of the day might change. Will your child wear something different than he or she usually does? Will you be going to someone else's house? Will there be other children there to play with? If it helps, you can make a schedule with your child that outlines the different events and possible break times to get away from all of the noise and excitement.
We also like reading books to discuss common holiday traditions! Here are some of our favorites:
Images via amazon.com
Last but not least, when getting ready for a change in routine or a new sequence of events, it's important to play a lot! After reading about the holiday, try some pretend play revolving around Thanksgiving. At the clinic, we went grocery shopping, invited some friends over, cooked our turkey, mashed potatoes, and desserts, and had a delicious feast with friends! (Of course, we also washed the dishes afterward.) For kids who might have trouble with the play sequence, we made a visual schedule to show them what to do.