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Decorating and Shopping for the Holiday


Do you have a kiddo who loves lights to the point that they act as if all lights are connected to a UFO that is going to carry them away from their families and off to a better place? Do you find yourself looking up and wondering if you are missing some kind of space signal from an alien talking to your child that is invisible to you?

During this time of year, lights are magnified. Eye candy is an understatement.

Let’s take my above scenario a step further….how ‘bout fidget toys? Does your kiddo love to hold small pieces of toys and strings? Do they like things that are soft and shiny? Do you try to redirect their passions but their repetitive actions trump your endless pleas for them to stop unrolling wrapping paper or flinging tissue paper over their head while they jump on their trampoline for a sensory break?

Let’s rev up the Christmas engine a bit more…does your child like blankets and beads? Are they interested in pulling cords  and curly ribbon too? When I pose these questions, believe me when I say that I know that “any kid is interested in these things”….I hear this all the time from caring loved ones in my life. The problem is that there is a sense of irrational choice making that a child with sensory processing disorder will undergo with you when they have that desire to feed their sensory need. They often struggle to take no for an answer or they will try to sneak toward the “no, no” items like an addict. It is almost like they are possessed and can’t hear you as you constantly redirect them toward appropriate activities. Am I right?

Take a deep breath. Are you reading this at 10p.m. because they are finally asleep? (I am right, aren’t I?)

Oh Christmas Tree. Now, why would I remotely think that a Christmas tree would be something that my son, Ethan, would easily adjust to upon seeing it in its entire colorful splendor? But what do I do? Should I rob myself and family of enjoying one of the best parts of Christmas in my humble opinion (minus evergreen rash)? The answer for my family is an absolute no. For other families, a tree just might not be worth it.

Christmas trees are part of our family routine. Therefore, Ethan needs to embrace the lights and the rules that come with having a tree proudly guarding the front window of our house.  Luckily, E can adapt. Not everyone reading this may be that lucky with their child. I get that and have some suggestions for you as well.

·         Do solid color lights provide a more balanced amount of stimulation verses multi colored lights?
·         Does the size of the tree need to be smaller, skinnier, and odorless?
·         What kind of ornaments make the most sense to display? If there are ornaments that cause more distractions, is it worth it to hang them?
·         Does it make sense for your kiddo with SPD to have their own small tree? They can decorate it how they want and take full ownership of it.
·         Do you need to have lights on the tree for small increments of time?
Deck the house with lotsa chotchkiesAre you the one who covers every inch of your house with some kind of ceramic elf, Santa, demented looking reindeer, or a stuffed Grinch for good me
asure? It’s ok. You can admit it. Do you get agitated when you see these items on the ground, in a different room, or in the hands of your child as they run with your beloved collector’s item in one hand and a wrapping paper roll in the other?
Prioritize your chotchkies. It might make sense to set up a reward system with your child. Stop sighing and making those stressed out sounds. Chotchkies are fidgets. Let’s face it. What kind of items can you provide to your child so that they leave your felt Santa and Mrs. Claus couple alone? You need to embrace the fact that you are enticing your child with your decorations. This is the case, again, for all children. But for your SPD addict, you are feeding their need and then getting mad when they devour your precious elf from 1983.
It’s the most wonderful time to lock the doors and leave my child at home
Breathe. Consider and embrace the fact that you need a plan. If you are like me, I am guessing your kiddo has a team of pros helping them battle through an IEP of goals and objectives. Yes? Have you considered talking to them and asking for advice? They may be very insightful about what your child can and can’t handle. Your kid’s VIPS know the kinds of gifts they might like and activities they may enjoy during the season of Christmas.
One example for me was pretty enlightening. I was dreading taking my son to his big sister’s Christmas pageant. Would he yell out? Would he be a terror? Would he appear out of place? Then, I listened to his paraprofessional after she received my stressed out eye rolls. She simply told me that Ethan would do awesome. He loves lights, music, costumes, and kids. He will do great. She was right. Again, this is my experience and of course may not be applicable for all who are reading. I get it. But the point is to consider your child’s threshold and your family’s needs.
What about shopping? The lines, the sensory stimulation, the time…the crowds… your head spinning? Settle down and keep reading…
·         If shopping with your child is hard or impossible, can you shop online, at earlier times, or at places that are not as populated with crowds?
·         Have you considered shopping during your child’s therapy sessions? Are there gift shops, restaurants, or shopping areas that can be strategically sought out while your child is receiving sessions of speech, occupational, or physical therapies?
·         Can you shop for the same item for multiple people? Pick a category (i.e. cooking, baking, restaurant gift cards) and purchase these types of things for multiple people.
·         Can you give money to a friend or family member to shop for you? I know people who LOVE to shop. I am not one of those people.
·         What can you do to prepare your child for shopping environments? Would it be helpful to take them into places with fluorescent lighting to seek out a desired item for them? By doing this, maybe the fluorescent lighting would be redefined as a positive experience instead of intensely negative.
·         Always consider your child’s time threshold, their hunger needs, and their nap schedules. This may sound obvious but we often race against the clock to get presents, party items, groceries and other items deemed important.
·         Always couple a positive with a negative experiences. For example, if you have a child who loves dinosaurs, bring these types of toys with you when you shop. You could space desired items out over your shopping trip. If you are trying to shop for thirty minutes, give your child a desired item every five minutes. Tell them how many things (in this case, a T-Rex or brontosaurus) you are going to give to them so that they know that when they receiv
e the last item, they are done shopping.
·         The dinosaur is one of many examples you could use to shape time for your child. Defining time in concrete ways will help children understand when they will be finished. They can often tolerate much better if they see an end in sight. Again, ask your child’s professionals for help with this. If they are like the folks at LLA therapy, they will be happy to help you tackle your kiddo’s sensory processing needs this time of year!
Happy Holidays!
Love, Beth

*Beth Lattime, M. Ed. is a developmental specialist and intervention specialist. Her professional experiences span over classroom, clinical, home-based, and recreational environments. She can now proudly add her own natural environments to her list of experiences. Ethan was diagnosed with Infantile Spasms in 2012 which is a rare type of epilepsy and had a former diagnosis of dysphasia. He is currently undergoing intensive therapies at LLA for apraxia and deficits in the arenas of physical and occupational therapy as well. For more on Beth’s story, visit

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Patient Reviews

LLA Therapy

Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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