All children have difficulty managing emotions and anticipation during the holiday season. Beautifully wrapped packages under the tree create excitement, but also tension. Add a schedule packed with parties and school events and even the emotionally steady child may melt down.

Does your unique learner already struggle to deal with overload? You can expect that they will have difficulty with their Christmas excitement.

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Every child looks forward to happy events. They recall happy times in past and they can feel the excitement building within those around them. Anticipating the fun, feeling the sense of urgency and excitement, all conspire to make it harder than usual to mind parents’ and teachers’ directions. It’s hard to stay focused.

Exciting, but Tiring

Managing emotions and anticipation this time of year is particularly difficult because of the inability to prepare for all the possibilities.

Your social calendar that once looked quite easily managed now is crowded by rescheduled dinners due to cold and flu problems. You have a sudden arrival of unexpected (and important) visitors. Then, there’s the (way too late) announcement of your daughter’s boyfriend’s parent’s annual extended neighborhood gathering. “Mom, we’ve got to go!” is all you hear, repeatedly.

Holidays. If you can recall that child-like and exciting frame of mind, perhaps you can also recall the fatigue that goes along with it. At one time or another, we have all pushed ourselves to attend that one more social engagement.

Did your fatigue manifest as impatience? Mine did. Watch others who are equally fatigued. Other people may over talk, overeat or just sit on their own. That’s also what I do. I’m the guest sitting on the couch, by the fireplace. Fatigue manifests in different ways in different people.

Multiply That By 10 for Unique Learners

For the unique learner, the experience is much more strongly felt. The child with autism spectrum disorder as well as the child with other sensory processing challenges may have trouble identifying why they’re acting sped up, or isolative, or impatient during what seems to be a fun family time.

Sometimes moving faster is an indication of fatigue. To those around them, they don’t look fatigued, actually they look pretty wide-eyed and awake, but they are not acting coherently. And that’s what you watch for, lack of coherence in their actions.

When you are out in public as well as when you are in charge of children, as a teacher is, there is one set of solutions. When you are in a more intimate environment with your own child, there may be more flexibility in how you respond to their over-excitement and the fatigue behaviors that accompany it.

Check out the quick tips for managing emotions and anticipation in the Strategies to Try article.

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Suzanne Cresswell Administrator
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