Holidays and Sensory Issues


Photo by Sadie Wisniewski

These are some decorations that are used during holidays along with some words of advice to make a comfortable environment during the holidays.

Holidays result in many parties, preparations, changes, sounds, and so much more. While some people enjoy these things, others feel thrown off by them.  

A group of people who may find themselves getting thrown off from holidays are people with sensory issues. People with sensory issues may deal with anxiety and feeling overstimulated.  

Alicia, a student at Pat Med High School states that: “Sensory issues are very hard to describe it’s almost like an annoying feeling.”

This shows how hard sensory issues can be to comprehend and how some may not talk about it and how amplified it can be during the holidays. 

These are some key components that trigger my sensory issues during the holidays with explanations:  

  1. Sound

When there are holidays going on such as the 4th of July, I hear parties and fireworks. Many festivities such as these may cause sensory overload, especially for those who specifically deal with sound sensitivity. The sounds stress me out and startle me. Sometimes I need alone-time where I do things that I enjoy decompressing; however, these types of noises get in the way of that. 

  1. Making Plans

Coordinating when everyone is free and having to wait to get information on exactly what it is I’m doing can become stressful. Many people who deal with sensory issues like to know exactly what they are doing ahead of time so they can build their sense of comfort and security. During holidays, there is a lot more plan-making than usual. In addition to this, people also have schedules that are packed so it may be harder to coordinate plans. 

  1. Changes 

Most people may think “Yay! Time off from school!” Not me, I get stressed out with change, and once again, lack of structure. I’m used to going to school and now I have a week off where I’m left to my own devices. Many people like me need structure in order to feel in control.  

  1. Stepping out of the Comfort Zone

Holidays involve going out and doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Some people with sensory issues have limits where they feel like they are not up to dealing with something. Sometimes, they get forced or feel obligated into doing certain things. This may widen their horizons in the long run, but that’s not to say that in the moment it won’t be extraordinarily difficult.  

Although there are stressful parts about the holidays for people in my community, that doesn’t mean we can’t still enjoy them. When given the right strategies and being around people that will support us every step of the way, it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.