Sensory-friendly Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

It’s been called the most wonderful time of the year and the happiest season of all, and we have to agree! But not only are the holidays wonderful, they also can be a bit overwhelming, especially for children with autism and sensory processing disorder. With so much to do and so little time, here are some sensory-friendly holiday experiences in the Indianapolis area you won’t want to miss! 

See the lights around Monument Circle and deliver a letter to Santa’s mailbox

This low-key activity is sure to get your family in the Christmas spirit. Your child is on the nice list, so bring a letter for Santa and head to Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. There, your family can see the beautiful twinkling lights, drop off letters in Santa’s special mailbox, and even grab a hot chocolate or tasty treat from the South Bend Chocolate Company. 

Visit a calm version of Celebration Crossing at the Indiana State Museum

The Indiana State Museum will be hosting Magical Mornings on Friday mornings from 9-10 a.m. on December 3, 10, 17 and 31. During this time, families can visit Santa, engage in two different interactive story times (9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.), and experience the ISM’s new toddler area and holiday fun in Santa’s Front Yard. Magical Mornings are recommended for kids ages 6 and younger, and feature fewer light shows, limited sounds and small crowd sizes to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for children with autism spectrum disorder. 

Drive around and marvel at Christmas lights

This is another low-key activity that can be done any night during the season. Put on your favorite pair of comfy pajamas, pop some fresh popcorn (and maybe some hot chocolate for the bigger kids who won’t spill), pile in the car, crank your favorite Christmas tunes, and head out for a night of Christmas light viewing around nearby neighborhoods.

Preparing Your Child for a Santa Visit

Meeting Santa isn’t always number-one on a child’s list. In fact, for some, it can be downright terrifying. If you think your child may fall under this category, you may want to consider skipping the personal visit. But if your child is excited to meet the man in the big red suit, a little preparation may go a long way. 

Be sure to tell your child what to expect before arriving. Let them know you will be standing in a line and music may be playing. Bring something special and comforting for your child to hold on to and play with during the wait time. Explain how they will be asked to sit on Santa’s lap and that he will want to know what they want this year. Maybe even write it down before arriving to help your child remember, and be sure to let him or her know pictures will be taken. 

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