Holiday Advice for Special Needs Children

Celebrating can be an exciting part of growing up. I still feel nostalgic whenever I watch “A Christmas Story” or smell gingerbread. But for a kid with special needs holidays can be overwhelming or inaccessible.

I want to start a series on tips and tricks for modifying the normal traditions so they can be sensory friendly and accessible for everyone. Halloween is only a couple of weeks away and I want share some of the things that we do so N can enjoy the holiday, too.

Sensory Friendly Costume Ideas

Like many kids on the spectrum, N has problems finding normal clothes that feel comfortable to him. He currently wears ladies leggings because they are too big on him and fit like sleep pants. (Believe it or not, the school suspended him for “crossdressing” the first time he wore them. It’s a weird story of ignorance and foolishness that will get its own blog post later on.)

Because of his sensory issues, the costumes at Party City with hot polyester with itchy seams are out of the question. I like to sew, but most busy parents don’t have the time. Don’t worry — I have a few ideas that require little to no sewing.

  • Try some PJ’s. Onsies are very popular right now and could be used as a head to toe costume. Even Walmart has superhero PJ’s with detachable capes.
  • Sweatsuits are super comfy and can be decorated in minutes. You could add a cape and use fabric paint to make the logo for a superman costume. Sew or glue pompoms to the top and decorate the pants to create a gumball machine outfit. Here is a link to some great ideas that can be thrown together with a little fabric glue and paint.

http://www.cutegirlshairstyles.com/lifestyle/10-diy-food-halloween-costumes-kamri-noel/

  • Try masks instead of face paint or just go without. Some kids can stand the feel of body paint, but like masks. Some can’t do either so the costumes themselves just have to do.
  • Try wearing normal clothes underneath a costume. Some little ones are fine with the outerwear if the fabric that touches their skin is soft.

Wheelchair costumes

These can be lots of fun because you can turn the wheelchair into a prop and it’s great to have a “vehicle” to ride on instead of walking around the neighborhood. I usually end up with my own kid and a couple of hitchhikers before the night is over.

  • Kids in powerchairs have an advantage because the only part that they need access to is the joystick. Cardboard or foamboard can be painted to look like the Batmobile or Cinderella’s carriage and strapped to the sides. There are so many ideas on Pinterest, but I really like this site:

http://www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com/tag/wheelchair/

  • Manual wheelchairs can be a little tricky because you need to have access to the wheels. You can still decorate the back or the front as long as it doesn’t interfere with pushing the wheels.
  • I usually use a manual chair, but I like to rent a powerchair or a scooter for the week of Halloween. It allows me to move around easier plus the weight limit is much higher. Last year I was a train conductor and I added wheels to 55 gallon totes so I could attach them as train cars. I had a baby in my lap, N plus two other kids on the back and hubby on the platform attachment. It’s not just the disabled children that get tired of walking; the little ones and lazy husbands need a break, too.

Next time, let’s tackle candy and other treats.

Gizmopal 2 Review

This is not a sponsored post. We have really enjoyed using N’s and I just wanted to share our experience. It has given us a wonderful sense of security that is worth more than gold.

I suppose I should start with a little background on N. He was diagnosed with classic autism before ASD was redefined. I’m not trying to get into a “my kid is more autistic than your kid” contest. I just wanted to illustrate his level of disability. He is verbal with people he knows well, but even then he has a very hard time reading a situation and communicating what is going on. For example, he is convinced that Jesus is a zombie because He rose from the dead and no one can convince him otherwise. It’s adorable, but he would really be at a disadvantage if he needed help.

When we decided to send him to school part time, I really worried that he might get lost and not be able to ask a stranger or even a police officer for help. It’s a very real threat that often ends badly. This study shows that almost half of all children with ASD wander regardless of where they are.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/study-confirms-autism-wandering-common-scary

We both wear medic alert bracelets for our genetic disorder, but it is so rare that it is more likely to confuse EMS rather than help. I looked into a GPS device so we could at least track him if he wandered off. Some were crazy expensive and some were very unreliable according to other reviews. I had a hard time finding something that would work for us and still be durable enough for a nine year old boy.

As luck would have it, dropping my phone in the tub was the best thing I ever did. When we were at the Verizon store, our friendly sales associate immediately offered to show us the new Gizmopal. He has worked with us before so he knew about N’s condition. It’s going to sound like I am exaggerating, but it really is this awesome and the perfect solution.

Some of the features include:

  • Program up to 4 numbers that can be called by the device. Other numbers can’t be dialed.
  • Two way calling so I can call him and it will automatically pick up after 10 seconds
  • GPS tracker that can be checked in real time through the Gizmohub app
  • The app is super easy to use. I am not very tech savvy, but I was able to program his numbers and set location boundaries in a couple of minutes.
  • It’s very reasonably priced at $80 with a contract.
  • The best part is how kid friendly it is. In addition to making phone calls, the buttons make cool noises and tell time. Of course, it is comfortable, durable and waterproof.

Here is a link to more information and a store locator where you can pick up one of your own.

https://www.verizonwireless.com/simulator/LG/gizmo_pal_2/embedded.html