For children with Attention Deficient/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Sensory Processing Disorder, the holidays can be a challenging, overwhelming and overstimulating time – but they don’t have to be. Bacharach’s pediatric therapist Pam Modugno, OTR/L offers ways to help these children have a pleasant holiday season.

What are the most difficult aspects of the holidays for children with ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder?

Bright lights, loud music or noise, crowds and a hectic schedule may cause trouble.  These can cause a child to become overstimulated.  When there is an excess of activity and more sensations than they can handle,  the child may have a tantrum or completely shut down.

What are some strategies I can use to help my child cope with holiday chaos?

It is important to have patience and understanding with your child and to be empathetic to their needs.  Avoid shopping with them during the holiday season if If your child has difficulty with crowds or long lines.  If your child will be sitting for long car rides, make stops and have movement breaks every couple of hours throughout your trip. Always keep a bag of tricks handy, including: a soft blanket, an iPad, a stuffed animal, fidget toys, coloring activities, music/headphones, and snacks.
To prevent overstimulation, keep your child’s sleep, food, activity level and rest regulated.  Exercise can help children who are hyperactive or impulsive. Prior to events, have the child perform activities to help calm and organize their sensory system such as:  yoga, breathing, jumping, wall pushups and jumping jacks.

What are some holiday activities I can do with my child?


Many children with ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder can tolerate a variety of activities and stimulation. All holiday activities can be good for your child as long as you have a backup plan.


As a family you can enjoy: decorating, baking, watching holiday movies, going to see holiday lights or wrapping gifts. To help your child enjoy a variety of activities, try modifying them to fit your child’s needs, whether that means visiting Santa during off-hours so there are smaller crowds and less wait time, or providing activities at holiday events to keep them occupied.


Here are some fun activities in our area that your child may enjoy:

  • Storybook Land
  • Tropicana Jingle Holiday and Light Show
  • Forever Forest
  • Bass Pro Shop’s Santa Wonderland
  • Smithville Village


This season make sure your child not only survives the holidays, but enjoys the most wonderful time of year!


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