9 Easy Ways to Create Sensory Friendly Holiday Decor

string of holiday white lights

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. We’ll explore how to create a sensory-friendly holiday environment by making thoughtful choices in your decorations.

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Sensory-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving table set with food

Celebrating Thanksgiving with a child with Autism may require some preparations ahead of time and on the special day to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

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Sensory Sensitive Holiday Fun!

December has arrived and as with every year, it seems as if the calendar speeds up during this festive time.  Packing in all the shopping, decorating and taking in the holiday fun can seem overwhelming. The elves at Lakeshore Speech Therapy took a little time to compile a one stop list of events in the Northeast Ohio area that are sensory friendly.   These events are not only sensitive to the amount of unnecessary smells, sounds and sights, but often the pace of the event is slowed as well as those ‘working’ the event have been given some information on how to best engage with individuals with special needs.

We hope you are able to take a few moments and enjoy these events with your loved ones. 

Yours in Speech, 
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Making a Self-Care Plan

All of the clocks have finally all been changed  (except for one, there is always ONE clock in the house that just never quite makes the cut and is never changed), the Halloween decorations have been put away and what is that sound? Silence. The calm before the Holiday Season frenzy.

Take a few seconds of this ‘down time’ to focus on realizing the importance of self-care.  Parents and caregivers of individuals with special needs typically do not stop to worry about themselves. Not only is this pattern unfair to your loved ones, but more importantly, it is not fair to Y.O.U.

Consider the five minutes it takes you to read this blog post as the start of your self-care routine.  Consider taking this time to make a plan for yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to refill your tank so you can cruise into the Holiday Season ready and rejuvenated.  

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Sweet Dreams

Preparation for the start of a new school year is well under way for many.  As you may have noticed, the sun is setting a little earlier as we inch our way from summer into fall.  Late nights chasing fireflies and roasting s’mores gives way to sports practices, music lessons, and therapy sessions. There are many ways to begin to prepare you and your family for the inevitable change of schedule, none as important as remembering the critical role SLEEP plays in our lives.  Young and old, sleep is one of the more overlooked aspects of healthy living.  

Please take a moment and read through these two articles not only to understand the role sleep plays for children learning, but some techniques that make help increase your loved ones sleep (as well as your own). 

Children and Sleep

12 Sleep Tips for Kids with Special Needs

Sweet dreams!

Yours in Speech, 
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Prior Planning Goes the Distance!

Changes in schedules and routines are completely expected if not expected.  As we approach the July 4th holiday, evaluating the changes in schedules and routines – PROACTIVELY – will provide for a much more enjoyable holiday experience for everyone! 

Last year, one of the blog posts was dedicated specifically to preparing for the July 4th holiday.  We invite you to revisits that post as the information continues to be ever important.  These proactive steps do not end with just the holiday. As you are devising your summer plans, it is helpful to be aware of the resources within different venues and activities that are designed to meet the needs of individuals with special needs.  

If you are visiting the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, you should be aware of these services available to you and your loved ones.

Going to an Indian’s game at Progressive Field? Check out these resources and these and these

Headed to the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse?  You are going to want to be aware of this information.

And if your summer plans take you to Cedar Point, you definitely are going to want to read this information

In general, before you head off to any vacation or stay-cation destination, check with the facility to inquire of what materials and resources are available onsite to address the needs of individuals with special needs. 

Yours in Speech, 

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Lakeshore Speech Therapy Summer 2019 Programming

Every summer, we at Lakeshore Speech Therapy work to provide our clients and families with programming that meets everyone’s needs.  This year we are excited to offer programs for everyone from toddlers to teens. Please take a moment to see all that we have to offer.  Share this information with friends and family that may benefit from these amazing programs.  As always, please share your ideas for future programs.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC


Get Cooking!

The weather stations are all predicting record cold in the next few days.  Record cold means staying in the house. Staying in the house means lots of ‘together time’. Use that time to promote language use and development and have fun as well.

These frosty days are perfect for working together not only on language use and practice, but beginning to develop some independent functional skills that promote a sense of independence and pride. You have all you need to accomplish this in your kitchen.   Cooking, baking, food prep….functional and filled with language.

Creating in the kitchen builds a sense of togetherness and promotes language development and use.  For most, food is a motivating force to decrease inappropriate behaviors, increase language use as well as social skills.  For loved ones that are not motivated by eating different foods, you may be surprised at their willingness to help in the kitchen and be around different smells, tastes and textures (all great ways to start introducing new foods to limited palates).

Below are links to wonderful resources that not only promote cooking and baking as therapeutic tools, but provide free materials for everyone (young and old and in between) to participate in together time in the kitchen.  

Collect and print your favorite recipes to make a special recipe book.

But on your favorite chef’s apron, roll up your sleeves, and get to creating delicious foods and of course – memories!

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

It’s Okay!

It’s Okay!  This week the message is short, but it comes with an assignment and that’s Okay.  

The book “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Parr is a favorite in some homes (the author of this blog to be exact).  The message is simple and speaks to everyone, young and old.

This week, go to your local library and take out a copy of “It’s Okay to be Different” and read it out loud every day.  It’s guaranteed to make you and your loved ones smile.

Some families (again the author of this blog) adopted a specific line as a reminder that it’s OK; especially when a loved ones difference cause frustration or hurt feelings.  “It’s Okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub.” was enough to calm those hurt feelings or frustration.

Go ahead, get the book. It’s Okay!

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Practice makes permanent!

Practice – 8 little letters that require discipline and dedication.  Practice – 8 little letters that can enrage and irritate the most patient of souls. Practice – 8 little letters that have a profound effect on a life.  

Whether you yourself are learning a new skill or are helping a loved one learn a new skill, the time and dedication required can feel overwhelming and insurmountable. Practice provides the opportunity to try and fail and start again. Practice is part of the journey NOT the end goal.

Practicing speech and language skills may seem unnatural as these skills, for some, come naturally when communicating and engaging with the world.  Without knowing it, children who are developing language are ‘practicing’ these skills every time they engage with a person, a friend, or a toy. Sometimes loved ones require practice on a very specific element of language, one that may easily be taken for granted.  Be it eye contact, sharing, anticipating, or requesting, these skills may need practice toward mastery of communication.

Practicing communication skills should become a natural part of the day. Incorporating the practice of specific skills throughout the day may require a little planning, but eventually will become second nature. Clearly identify where and when the ‘practice’ could occur helps to create a less stressful and meaningful event. Start with a very manageable expectation, not only for your loved one, but yourself and eventually increase the expectation in small increments.  You will amaze yourself at how quickly these skills improve.

While the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.”, a preferred saying is “Practice makes permanent.”

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC