Celebrating Christmas: Navigating SEND Pupil Anxiety During Festivities

by | Dec 14, 2023

Introduction:

The Christmas season is meant to be a time of joy, but for SEND pupils who may experience heightened anxiety due to sensory overload and disrupted routines, it can be particularly challenging. It’s crucial to navigate these festivities with sensitivity and understanding. Today’s post will provide strategies for managing sensory concerns, fostering inclusive celebrations, and ensuring clear communication with parents to support SEND pupils during this festive season.

Managing Sensory Overload:

Christmas often comes with an array of sensory stimuli. Here’s how to manage it:

  1. Sensory Breaks: Plan for regular sensory breaks. Designate a quiet area where pupils can retreat from the hustle and bustle of festive activities.
  2. Personalised Sensory Kits: Equip SEND pupils with personalised sensory kits that might include noise-cancelling headphones, stress balls, or favourite tactile objects.
  3. Familiarisation: Gradually introduce festive decorations and music in the classroom to acclimatise pupils to the sensory changes they’ll encounter during the season.

Creating Inclusive Celebrations:

Inclusivity is key to ensuring that Christmas celebrations cater to all pupils:

  1. Adapted Activities: Adapt festive activities to meet the diverse needs of SEND pupils. This could involve modifying games to be more sensory-friendly or providing alternative options for craft-making.
  2. Involvement in Planning: Include SEND pupils in the planning of festivities. Giving them a voice in the activities chosen can significantly reduce anxiety.
  3. Celebration Choices: Offer choices wherever possible. Some SEND pupils may prefer quieter, more structured activities, while others may enjoy more active participation.

Advice on Parent Communication:

Parental involvement can make a significant difference in how SEND pupils experience the festive period:

  1. Open Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with parents. Share plans for festive activities and what accommodations are being made for their children.
  2. Home Strategies: Provide parents with strategies that can be used at home to reduce anxiety, such as visual schedules of family gatherings or expected visitors.
  3. Support Networks: Encourage parents to share their own successful strategies with the school and each other, fostering a supportive community network.

Pull-out Quote:

“An inclusive Christmas is one where SEND pupils feel comfortable to participate in the way that suits them best, ensuring that the season is merry and bright for everyone.”

Summary:

As SENCOs, our role in helping SEND pupils navigate Christmas festivities is critical. By adopting these strategies, we can create an environment where pupils can engage with the season in a way that feels safe and enjoyable for them. Let’s collaborate with parents and colleagues to ensure this Christmas is inclusive and joyous for all our pupils.

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