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Tips for Coping At Christmas

Christmas can be an overwhelming time for those with SEND. Here are some tips to help you manage the festive season.

Christmas is often hailed as a time of joy, celebration and togetherness. 

But for lots of young people with SEND and other unique challenges, the festive period can bring lots of added stress.

So here are some practical tips that will hopefully support you to navigate this season.

Christmas tree & Carly


And remember – each person is unique. So it’s important to tweak these tips to your own needs & preferences.



10 Christmas Coping Tips

Sensory Overload

Christmas decorations and lights can be overwhelming.

Create a quiet space with dim lights to retreat to when needed. 

One of our young people, Fletcher, suggests you could wear sunglasses, even at night, to protect your eyes and yourself from sensory overload.

Change in Routine

Christmas often disrupts daily schedules.

Create a visual schedule for the holiday period, to maintain a routine. You can use drawings, photos or simply pin words up on a board to look at each day.

You could also use a calendar on your phone. One of our young people, Annalisa, puts everything on her phone calendar – theatre trips, family events, things to remember – to help her over the busy Christmas period.

Social Anxiety

Holiday gatherings may cause anxiety.

Have a signal or code with a trusted person for when you need a break.

Noise Sensitivity

There may be loud music or noisy crowded places.

Keep noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs nearby, and use whenever you need.

Gift Exchange Anxiety

Receiving or giving gifts can cause anxiety.

Set clear expectations with family & friends. Or consider an alternative that you’ll enjoy more.

Food Sensitivities

You may worry about special dietary needs over Christmas.

Ask to bring your own food, or communicate your diet beforehand.

Shopping Stress

Shopping malls and high streets are a lot busier.

Consider shopping online, or go during off-peak hours. 

Self-Care Routine

Holiday chaos can lead to neglecting yourself.

Schedule short breaks for self-care activities, such as deep breathing, meditation, listening to your favourite music, or a good rest.

Unfamiliar Surroundings

Being somewhere new might be worrying.

Create a comfort Kit to take with you. Pack favourite items like a blanket, snacks, stress-relief toys…

Support Networks 

Christmas can make us feel isolated.

Make time to stay connected with friends, family or support groups for emotional support.



  • Preferred Name: Órla
  • Role at KIDS: Wellbeing co-ordinator.
  • About me: I run the online well-being groups and a group in Wandsworth. I am also a playworker! I have a background in Art therapy. 
  • Fun facts: I love different wheels! I have roller-skates, a surf-skate board and a bike. 


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