Keeping Peace on Earth: Coping with special needs this season

RadioToday, I’ll be spending time with my friend, Vangie Rodenbeck on the Shaping Special Hearts radio show. (noon EST) We’ll be talking about some solutions for managing the stress and unpredictability that often accompanies Christmastime. I hope it will be helpful!

I’ll be referencing some of the ideas that have been posted here in the past. I’ve compiled those below for your convenience…

Accommodating Special Needs
Prep for the Pageant
Dealing with Relatives and Visitors
Creating Hands-on Opportunities for Kids

Neighborhood Outreach: Birthday Party for Jesus
Invitations
Activities for the Party
Crafts
Stories, Service Projects, Sweets

Resources and Ideas
Sensory-Friendly Christmas Carol
“Why Do We Call It Christmas” DVD
Free Download: Holiday Treasure Hunt
Christmas M&M Story

Encouragement
Peace: Wholly Holy
Peace in the Ordinary Days
Great Gifts: He Was Here
Preparing our Hearts

Do you have a question, or an idea to share? Call in during the show: (424) 258-9286. We’d love to chat with you.
Katie

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Sensory-Friendly “Christmas Carol” (plus great ideas for church and school!)

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Special events abound during the holiday season…and this can sometimes pose a challenge for families affected by disabilities. Fortunately, some organizations are beginning to understand this dilemma…and they’re reaching out in some wonderful ways!

Here in Cleveland, the Great Lakes Theatre Festival’s production of “A Christmas Carol” provides cheer, exceptional acting and beautiful music. It’s a tradition many families enjoy as they usher in the Christmas season. However, attending a live theatre production of any kind can be overwhelming and distressing for kids with disabilities. The lights, loud music, and large space combine to set kids up for difficulty. In addition, going to a show may be an unfamiliar experience, stirring anxiety.

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This year, the theatre company is hosting a “Sensory-Friendly” Christmas Carol on Wednesday, November 27 at 11 am. According to the website, “for this special performance, accommodations will be made, including a supportive audience environment, designated quiet areas, (and) adjustments to light and sound.” In addition, several online resources have been created to help families prepare. These include a social story about going to see the play, a simplified, picture version of the story, and information about Charles Dickens.

Community Partners for this event are The Autism Theatre Initiative, Milestones Autism Organization, and the Cuyahoga County Department of Developmental Disabilities.

This event can provide some great ideas for schools and churches during this season. When planning a large scale event, such as a Christmas Pageant or band concert, consider adding a social story or other information to the website, and alert families that this is available. By doing this, parents can help to prepare their children for what is coming, increasing the likelihood for success. In addition, securing a “quiet area” where students can take refuge and calm down can be helpful; mark this area prominently so that folks know it is available. Again, this sends a strong message that you want your guests to feel comfortable. Finally, consider offering a “quiet” option, when lights and sound are muted a bit. This can make the experience manageable, and help kids with special needs to remain calm so the whole family will enjoy their time together.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Sensory-Friendly Christmas Carol, click here.

Do you have ideas that would make this season welcoming for families affected by disabilities? Please share them in the comment section, or send me a message!

God Bless Us…every one.

~Katie

Photos courtesy aceshowbiz.com; Great Lakes Theatre Festival

Free Download: Holiday Treasure Hunt

treasureboxI hope you are enjoying your Christmas holiday! We’ve been having lots of fun…especially because we’ve had a chance to spend time with extended family.

When we all get together, we often play a game or do a puzzle.  This year, one of our activities was a treasure hunt. I wanted to share it with all of you…please feel free to download it and use at a family or neighborhood gathering, or for your church or youth group. It can easily be modified to fit the needs of your group…and most importantly, this Treasure Hunt provides a hands-on holiday message about the BEST gift ever.

Click here to download: Christmas Treasure Hunt

Remember…Christmas technically lasts until January 6 (Epiphany!), so don’t be shy about  keeping the theme of this wonderful season for a few more days. And, if you are turning the page and taking down decorations, print this out and tuck it in with your ornaments, and you’ll have a ready-to-go activity for Christmas 2013!

Happy hunting!
~Katie