Mothers of children or adults with autism have the same levels of stress as soldiers in combat - highlighting that parents of kids with special needs are often frazzled. Being a parent to a child with cerebral palsy (CP) is no different and more so during the holidays when the challenges may appear insurmountable. The good news is there are several things that you can do to navigate through the holidays without stressing your child, yourself, and those around you.
Adjust Activities and Arrange Logistics
The holidays are filled with activities and things to do. However, bear in mind that your special needs child has limitations. Depending on the severity of their symptoms, a child with CP might also have to go to many therapies and appointments leaving them with fewer opportunities to savor the holidays. If your child has problems moving and maintaining balance, several cerebral palsy resources offer care advice and tips to celebrate the season. Given the limited mobility of your son or daughter, it is important that you plan fun activities during the season.
Hence, if your child needs to use a wheelchair or walker, research or call in advance to check the accessibility of the places you are headed to. For those who do not require mobility aids, they might walk slowly and thus, be mindful of the distances that you will be covering. Aim for small shopping centers instead of big malls if you plan to buy presents.
One of the most common conditions associated with CP is pain. It can present itself in many forms and varies in severity. Hence, if the tradition in your family is to spend an entire day at Grandma’s place for Christmas, think of cutting that time in half to avoid tiring your child. Timing is also an important factor to consider when going out. Schedule activities outside of the home after your child has napped so that they have enough energy. Telling your family beforehand of your plans to leave earlier is also a good idea. If anything, they will understand as they know that your offspring has mobility issues and will likely become exhausted very quickly.
Plan Realistic Outings
Festivities are hard to escape during the holidays. But, you can also do it in a way that will make it pleasant for everyone involved. Planning to see a Christmas show? Choose informal ones like school plays or local performances that are not only shorter, but cheaper. If your kid is weary, you can leave at any moment. The best thing is your child has at least experienced a classic holiday event.
Watching parades and events by foot might be too much for your child. Instead, consider driving through light shows or the city to see shop window displays. Better yet, do not force your kid to participate in holiday activities outside of the home apart from regular exercise which is great for a child with CP for muscle training, strength, and motor development. Stay indoors, bake cookies, make décor, and other craft activities. Don’t forget to get help if you are overwhelmed with the festivities and childcare. There is nothing wrong if you ask for a respite break so that you can recharge.
Stress is not helpful if you are caring for a child with cerebral palsy. Fortunately, there are ways to get through the holidays by planning activities, timing them properly, and giving yourself a much-needed break.