Thanksgiving can be a fun but stressful time of year. The meal itself is a lot to plan, especially for families with special needs children. Below are some tips to help your child with special needs feel comfortable and part of the family Thanksgiving tradition.
Dressing for Thanksgiving: Showing off your family at its best dressed can be a little tricky when you have a special needs child. Don’t let fancy outfits make or break your holiday. If your child fusses, just let him or her pick the outfit. Then you can just add some festive accessories!
Planning Thanksgiving Dinner: When planning this yearly get-together, ask around to see which family member has the most accessible home. If you have an accessible, why not be the one to host dinner? This will already make your child feel more comfortable being in a very familiar place with less familiar faces and activities.
Traveling with your special needs is hard enough. To help make things a little easier, try asking a pre-teen or teen family member to travel with you as your helper. Chances are they will jump at the chance to travel to Grandma’s house with your family instead of his or her own. Your child will enjoy traveling and playing with someone closer to his or her own age.
Preparing Thanksgiving Foods: Some kids are on a special diet, which means they can’t eat all the same foods as the rest of the family. If possible, prepare their food in a special way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
For a child fed through a feeding tube, a family dinner can be tough. If relatives are comfortable with your child being fed while everyone else eats, try some thanksgiving tube feeding recipes. You can also feed your child ahead of time, or wait to attend the party until after dinner.
Because your child is eating differently, don’t let that make him or her feel left out. To help your child feel more included, have them help prepare the foods even they aren’t eating (children often want to try foods that they’ve helped make!) and in other productive ways like grocery shopping or setting the table.