The first thing you should do when planning quality, sensory-friendly family time is to make a list of the various types of entertainment that your family will enjoy doing together such as games, movies and family outings. Only include activities that everyone in the family will participate in. The easiest way to do this is to have each family member make their own list of the top five activities they would like to do, ranked in the order of importance, for each of the following categories: games, movies, and outings. Take the answers from each family member’s list, tally the results, and make a master list of the “most wanted” or favorite activities.
It is also important to take any and all sensory issues, or triggers, into consideration when choosing an activity for the family. If someone in the family cannot handle certain situations, it is better for everyone if you take precautions to avoid them. Eliminate anything that will cause frustration, disunity and/or isolation during family time. Remember, this should be a time where family members strengthen their relationship with one another.
Determining which strategy works best in a particular situation can be compared to playing the game of Chess:
- Choose a location that allows each member of the family to have enough room to relax comfortably and not be disturbed during the activity.
- Have each family member decide what their strengths are and how each of them can contribute towards making your family time a success!
- Explain the basic rules, before starting the activity, so that each family member understands, and agrees to, what is expected of them.
- Select a variety of snacks and drinks which are light, refreshing and easy enough for everyone to manage during the course of the famly activity.
- Show or model appropriate behavior whether you win, or lose, so that everyone understands what good sportsmanship looks and feels like.
As an effort to strengthen your family team, it is important to learn more about what each family member likes and dislikes. Enjoy your family time while making a point to remember the FUN that you had together!