An Individualized Approach to Celebrating the Holidays

Guest blog contributed by Marissa Bennett, MSEd., BCBA, Board Certified Behavioral Analyst at Marissa Bennett Consulting.

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holiday season! It is this time of year that I begin to have conversations with client’s parents about how to help their children be as successful as possible for family gatherings. We discuss visual schedules for children to be able to understand the timeline of the atypical day. We discuss social stories to preview expectations and activities. We discuss going to family member’s houses to practice being in a new environment. We practice social skills, what to do when you open a present, how to respond to family member’s questions and so much more! We discuss lists of items that will help each individual child be able to tolerate a variety of settings.   While these discussions are happening and materials are being made, this year is different. This year is different, because I am not only preparing for the holidays with my clients but with my own child.

Wearing my mom hat has pushed me to have a different perspective on the holiday season. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how we can make old traditions work for our family. I have spent a lot of time practicing skills, communicating with family members on how to engage successfully, I have created visual schedules, and I have made sure we have a bag of tricks ready including noise canceling headphones.

As I have been busy trying to teach my child to fit into what we have always done, I had a realization. Is this really bringing either of us holiday cheer?  

This year we are going to try out some new traditions. Traditions where my child gets to be himself, neurodiversity, and all. Decreasing demands on my child also decreases demands on me and allows us to really enjoy time together. Isn’t that what this time of year is about?

I want to point out that these new traditions do not mean we are not going to see family and friends. We are going to do these things, but be ok with leaving early, before things get overwhelming, wear everyday clothing, telling the grandparents that we don’t need music playing while we enjoy dinner, and model engagement over topics such as bipedal t-rex rather than trying to prompt conversations about school and such.

I recognize that things are not going to be perfect. I recognize that we are still going to use the many tools I also share with my clients. I recognize that this time of year feels different because old traditions are no longer the same. Having kids is about taking the old traditions and putting a spin on them. I empower you to take this time to work with your child’s team to not only have tools for your child to be able to conquer the holidays but to also discuss ways that your family can build some new traditions that revolve around your child and what makes them uniquely them.

About Marissa Bennett

Marissa Bennett MSEd., BCBA is a board-certified behavior analyst. A graduate of Indiana University, she received both her bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences with a minor in psychology and her master’s degree in special education in Bloomington. She received her certification in behavior analytics from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Whether in group homes, day programs, recreational programs, schools, clinical settings or home settings, for the last 15 years Marissa has been helping children, and families embrace their fullest quality of life. Marissa provides supervision to students completing their Board Certified Behavior Analysis (BCBA) supervision hours. Marissa has also traveled with the Global Autism Project to Indonesia to help train ABA therapists abroad and conduct parent presentations.

About Marissa Bennett Consulting

Marissa Bennett Consulting is a boutique agency providing natural and collaborative ABA services. We provide in home and clinical services to children with a variety of needs. We specialize in individualized treatment, school and toilet training, as well as parent coaching. We believe everyone can learn. Our staff are here to support your family each step of the way.

C.I.T.Y. of Support is grateful to Marissa Bennett at Marissa Bennett Consulting for herparticipation as one of our organization's sponsors. Please note that the information and opinions presented here are specifically her own.  The purpose of C.I.T.Y. of Support's collaborative blog is to help connect families and professionals to different community resources, and we do not specifically endorse any particular recommendations provided herein.

The information and opinions presented in each blog post belong to each individual author. The purpose of C.I.T.Y. of Support's collaborative blog is to help connect families and professionals to different community resources, and we do not specifically endorse any particular recommendations provided herein.