Sensory Friendly New Years Eve Ideas

It can be challenging to survive the holidays when there is so much sensory information being pummeled at your sensory child.

Going out and celebrating New Year's Eve at somewhere other than home may be problematic for many kids with autism or sensory processing disorder due to overwhelming sensory input, new places, loud noises, disruptions to the regular routine, etc., that the party environment creates.

Most times, parents and families are going to stay home to avoid unnecessary overwhelming and frightening or even disrupting a child's routine. Though this can still be problematic not only because of the loud fireworks heard throughout the night, but they could get bored or anxious being stuck inside.

But there are ways to make every holiday more sensory friendly and inclusive, without having to avoid the holidays completely.

So we are sharing some sensory friendly New Year's eve ideas and activities for kids in hopes that you can still celebrate without the overwhelm and without the meltdowns or shutdowns.

  • Prepare in advance. Talk to your kids and make a plan together, and get everything ready to go. You might watch YouTube videos of New Year’s Eve festivities together to help you make a plan.  
  • Celebrate At Noon Instead Of Midnight. Don’t mind the clock. Many kids with autism have sleep issues. So if staying up until midnight would disrupt your child's bedtime routine, then try celebrating at noon instead of midnight. Ring in the New Year at a time that works better for you! You might celebrate midnight in another time zone or plan your party for noon.
  • Plan sensory-friendly activities. A sensory bin with confetti, streamers, party blowers, glow sticks, balloons, or whatever else your kids might enjoy can be a great addition to your New Year’s celebration. You might also make a calm-down sensory bottle, filled with water mixed with glitter or confetti.  
  • Watch a movie under a weighted blanket. Make New Year’s Eve a family movie night, snuggled up under a weighted blanket, which will provide calming deep pressure and proprioceptive sensory input. Make it even more fun by popping some popcorn.
  • Have a family game night. Board games offer a great low-key way to ring in the New Year, and they’ll help your kids practice social skills, too.
  • Dance the night away. If your kids need to move and wiggle around too much to last through a movie or a board game, no problem! Have a family dance party instead, dressing up if you want to and dancing to your kids’ favorite tunes.
  • Choose hats over noisemakers. Hats are just as festive as the noisier party favors, and for extra fun, you can make it a craft activity, making or decorating them yourselves.
  • Do the fireworks and ball drop your own way. Watch fireworks on video instead of experiencing them live, and set up a balloon or confetti drop to release after your countdown, filling a drawstring garbage bag with party streamers, ribbons and bows left over from Christmas, confetti, or balloons.

Now that you have a plan in place to create a memorable and festive New Years celebration with your child on the spectrum, we know that your evening will be much more meaningful than any party, club or gathering you may have gone to in previous years.

All of us at Bright Autism want to wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. May your homes be filled with laughter and your hearts be filled with love.

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