Christmas is a magical, happy and exciting time for most families, full of laughter and festive fun, but for families whose loved ones have a learning disability, this can be far from the most wonderful time of the year.

The flashing lights, crowds of people, unexpected guests, loud music and even family gatherings can cause severe anxiety and distress to those suffering from a learning disability, particularly those with Autism.

The National Autistic Society produced a video to try and give some insight into what it’s like for people with autism, take a look at the video, then try to imagine the same scenario at Christmas with all the music and lights.

Far from the special time that most people experience, Christmas for those with learning disabilities, sometimes, has to be more like a ‘normal’ day.

As if Christmas isn’t stressful enough for most parents, it is especially stressful for those whose children suffer from learning disabilities, where they need to make sure their child sticks to as near to the usual routine as possible whilst ensuring other siblings have the best Christmas possible.

It is a very difficult balancing act so we’ve put together some tips to help make Christmas an enjoyable experience for the whole family!

People with learning disabilities – Top Tips for a stress-free Christmas

  • Many children and adults can suffer from sensory overload at Christmas, so introduce new items and decorations gradually rather than all at once. 

  • Leave a room that’s Christmas-free, so if it all gets too much, they can always feel safe there and have some much needed Christmas free time. 

  • Autistic people can struggle with strong smells so if you really must have your house smelling of cinnamon rolls at Christmas, try adding a small amount of cinnamon to their playdough so they can get used to it first. 

  • Put aside time to perform Christmas activities with siblings, ask family or friends if they don’t mind looking after your child with learning disabilities if you can attend school plays or certain outdoor events this year. 

  • Do things the whole family can enjoy like baking Christmas goodies and making Christmas decorations. 

  • Use a professional service like Cura Care back-up buddies to alleviate any added stress that Christmas brings whilst giving you peace of mind that your loved one is in good hands.

family decorating the christmas tree

Top Gift Ideas For Children And Adults With Learning Disabilities

When friends and family are buying for children or adults with learning disabilities it can be difficult to explain why the gift isn’t suitable. Why not compile a list of things that would be useful and share it with them? It can take the pressure off them too as they don’t have the added worry of choosing something that’s unsuitable.
Here is a list of great gifts to get you started:

Sensory Bean Bags
These are great for children or adults and can provide them with a comfortable, yet safe and secure place to relax. Whether it’s offering pressure relief from day to day pain and discomfort or a place to read a book, this waterproof beanbag is a great gift for people of all ages.

Amazon Echo Dot
This device is great for adults and children with learning disabilities and can improve important skills, as well as help them gain independence. Alexa can be instructed to play music and answer questions. Parental controls can be added when choosing suitable skills and capabilities so there is no need to worry about unwanted purchases turning up or making unwanted calls.

Audible Subscription
If your loved one struggles to read, an audible subscription would be a great buy. With a huge selection of audiobooks available, there’s sure to be something for everyone, and at just £7.99 a month, it’s not going to break the bank. There’s a free trial option too so you can find out if it’s suitable first and it can even be read using the echo dot above 🙂

Sensory Lights
Sensory lighting can be a great affordable gift for both children and adults with autism. Amazon has a great selection of lighting from lava lamps to Illusion lights that can help eliminate stress and anxiety.

Digital 3 Alarm Clock
An alarm clock that is voice and touch-activated with 3 separate alarm functions is a wonderful gift for anyone with learning disabilities, especially for someone who struggles with time management in the morning and likes to follow a routine. You can set one alarm to wake-up, one for “it’s time to wash and brush your teeth” time and another for it’s time to set off, etc.

Itunes Gift Card
If the person has apple products and loves nothing better than to play music, games, or download apps, they would really appreciate an itunes gift card.

Cook & Eat Books
For the aspiring chef, these Cook & Eat books have been created to help people with learning disabilities cook meals, without as much help. There are four books in total that complete the series, these are: Baking, Big Meals, Cooking from Scratch, and Small Meals. What’s more, all proceeds from the sale of these books help fund learning disability, mental health and community services.

Easy Christmas Recipes for people with learning disabilities.

Cooking is a great way to help people children and adults with learning disabilities feel more independent and boost their self-esteem. The whole family can get involved in the preparation of Christmas dinner.

These recipes created by United Response for the CookABILITY channel on Youtube provide some great easy-to-follow Christmas cooking videos made by and for people with learning disabilities, From pigs in blankets and soup to chocolate truffles and mince pies, there’s sure to be something that everyone can enjoy.

Christmas crafts for children and adults with learning disabilities.

A little extra help and support at Christmas for people whose loved ones have a learning disability

If your stress levels are high and you could use a little extra help, or after all this baking and creating you could do with some much needed ‘me time’, Cura Care can provide trained and consistent, named carers with whom you can build trust and confidence.

Please click on the following links to see what services we can offer you:

We hope these tips and recommendations have provided you with some useful information and you all have a great stress-free Christmas this year!