Adapting Easter for Special Needs – 8 Tips

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It’s holiday time again – which you may love or loathe — so I’m going to talk about ways to adapt Easter for Special Needs families.

Oh, the pressure! Family is coming over, (which hasn’t happened in two years now due to COVID-19) and your kiddo has had NO practice at hanging with a group, let alone sitting through dinner. Your gut is screaming that this could be a recipe for disaster – and meltdown city.

Especially when the Easter egg hunt happens and (s)he isn’t as fast as the others – and comes up empty.

I have lived these minor disasters, which, in the moment are anything but minor. Yes, I’ve been the parent physically carrying my kiddo out of the event, eggless.

In the spirit of adapting to make lives easier, here’s a list to help reduce stress and anxiety during this upcoming Easter Holiday.

1. Do an Easter egg hunt at home

Just head to the dollar store, get some plastic eggs and figure out what’s best to put inside. We’ve used jellybeans, foil-covered chocolates and even money! If you’re worried about older kids finding eggs first try this: Assign each participant a color. This way, you can make some eggs easier to find for kids who need it, and some colors harder for older, more capable kids. The rule is, when you find a color that’s not yours – leave it alone.

2. Try a no-spill kit

I’ve used these and they are helpful. I won’t say it’s mess free, but it IS much easier for my kiddo to color eggs. They are relatively inexpensive and are readily available around Easter.

Image of a no-spill Easter egg decorating kit

3. Shaving Cream Eggs

Looking to turn Easter into a sensory event? Look online for how to decorate Easter eggs with shaving cream! Here’s instructions from Better Homes & Gardens.

4. Skip some, or skip all

It’s OK to say no to any and all events if it will overwhelm your child. It’s even OK to have a candy-less Easter, I promise!

5. The meal doesn’t matter

The whole idea of Easter brunch or dinner is to celebrate with those you love. Does it really matter if your kiddo celebrates with chicken nuggets and ketchup (again)? Tune out the naysayers and just be thrilled your kid is thrilled and enjoying the moment.

6. There is no law requiring baskets to be hidden

Will hiding a basket cause frustration? Then don’t do it. Really. I give you permission to let it go in true Elsa style, go on, sing it — belt it out — it will feel GREAT!

7. Designate a Quiet Spot

When things get overwhelming, it’s helpful have a place ready to go so that your child can decompress. It’s OK if that is the car, when you’re visiting others. You can sit in the car with your child — and you can both take a deep breath and decompress.

8. Use a Social Story

I’m a BIG fan of social stories. They help kids learn about all kinds of new experiences. They help to reduce anxiety because they help kids understand what to expect. Here’s a free, printable social story about Easter just for YOU!

Life is so short, my friends and holiday norms are over-rated. One of the things I just LOVE about my kiddo’s awesomely autistic self is her honesty. She asked me WHY we had to dress up on Easter. What was wrong with wearing something comfy? You know what? It made me realize I HATED wearing shoes that pinched my feet and itchy pantyhose — and for what? Easter brunch tastes just as good in jeans and sneakers.

Happy Easter everyone!

Related Links
Candy-less Easter
Free Easter Social Story

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  1. I love this! We tried to do all the traditional holiday things, but Ben just doesn’t care about most holidays. He likes to dress up and wander the neighborhood for Halloween, and he likes the tree and presents of Christmas. He eats pizza.😆

    His lack of interest has allowed US to relax and not stress about holidays.

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