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Is your community returning to hosting public events? Is going to see the Easter bunny a stressful event for your family? Maybe your child experiences sensory overload? Bright lights, an unfamiliar setting, background music, strangers and many people moving about can make visiting the Easter bunny result in anxiety and meltdowns. You are not alone! Many parents look for help at Easter time. Find 10 tips here for a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit.
Easter and your child’s sensory differences.
You, your child, everyone, in fact, have more than five senses. Easter is full of new, exciting and sometimes overwhelming, sights, sounds, tastes, touches and smells. There are decorations to see. Music to hear. Lots of new treats to taste and smell. Finally, there are arts, crafts, games, and toys to touch and feel.
And there are at least three more senses too:
- Sense of movement
- Sense of balance
- Internal Body Sense
Visiting the Easter Bunny requires your child to use their sense of movement (muscles and joints) and sense of balance to move, walk, sit, run and play in a space. And sometimes that space is new or unfamiliar, like at a mall or a community center. Interoception, or your child’s internal body sense, tells them when they are hungry, thirsty or if they have to go to the toilet. It also is critical for managing emotions. Think of the expression “butterflies in your stomach.” How your body feels on the inside affects how your body behaves on the outside, your behavior.
What your child experiences through any of their senses can contribute to sensory overload. The excitement of Easter (not to mention the treats and surprises) can make any child experience sensory sensitivity, or become overwhelmed. That’s why a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit can help! Autistic children, children with a learning disability, sensory processing disorder or post-concussion are even more likely to experience sensory differences. Autism and anxiety in combination are especially difficult for your child.
10 tips for a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit.
1. Look at pictures.
Look at pictures from past Easter bunny visits. Use the pictures to remind your child what to expect. Talk about what happens when going to see the Easter bunny. If you don’t have pictures of your own, search for some online. And give your child an opportunity to talk about what they are excited about. Most importantly give your child an opportunity to share what they might be worried about too when visiting the Easter bunny.
2. Choose a sensory-friendly Easter bunny.
Search for malls or community centers that offer a sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit. More and more such events are happening each year. Check to see if a sensory-friendly Easter bunny event is happening this year near you.
3. Pick less busy times.
Visit your local mall or community center at times that are less busy. That often means visiting when they first open. Call up the mall or the center and ask if there are times when the location not as busy.
4. Pick less busy locations.
Reach out to your local community centers, churches, schools to see if they are hosting a public, but less busy, Easter bunny event.
5. Practice beforehand.
Play it out. Children love pretend play! Your child will learn new things through play. More importantly, your child will process their emotions through play too. Easter can bring big emotions, like excitement. It can all bring anxiety. So, dress up. Act out visiting the Easter bunny. Have your child be the Easter bunny. Have their toys all visit the Easter bunny too. Practice both the expected and the unexpected.
6. Make your own sensory-friendly Easter bunny event.
Can’t find a low noise, less bright event? Create your own sensory-friendly Easter bunny event for your family, extended family or friends. Many people (parents too) appreciate events that are less busy, less noisy and less bright.
7. Manage expectations.
Your child probably has expectations of the Easter bunny. They might think the Easter bunny can magically grant wishes. You likely have expectations too! Maybe you want an Instagram-worthy photo to share? Mange everyone’s expectations and you will all be delighted. The Easter bunny can likely give out candy. And your photo-op might be a close up of your child smiling with their treat and the Easter bunny waving in the background.
8. Bring sensory tools.
Have the things that help on hand. Noise-cancelling earmuffs, fidgets, sunglasses, a hat, whatever you know works for your child. Help them manage their sensory experience by reducing the overload.
9. Eat and drink.
Hungry, thirsty children are not happy children. Not to mention the sugar-rush if there is Easter candy. Plan ahead and ensure you have a meal or a snack and a drink before your Easter bunny visit.
10. Take toilet breaks.
Plan those all-important toilet breaks ahead. Your child’s internal body sense can easily become disrupted with the excitement of Easter. Hunger, thirst, the urge to go to the toilet can all contribute to sensory overload. Help your child manage their body and internal body sense with breaks and toilet breaks.
Happy Easter! And may you have a wonderful, sensory-friendly Easter bunny visit with your family.
Here are other ideas for Easter:
- Why Choose Sensory-Friendly Easter Greetings?
- Create a Sensory-Friendly Easter Egg Hunt for Your Child
Interested in more seasonal holiday help as a parent for your sensory child?
- 7 Ways to Have a Sensory Friendly Thanksgiving
- Make Halloween Sensory Friendly for your Child
- Choose a Sensory Friendly Santa Claus Parade for Your Child
- 5 steps to a Sensory Friendly Christmas
- Make Your Child’s Visit to Santa a Success
- 4 Tips to Manage Sensory Overload and Holiday Stress
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Christel Seeberger has worked in health care for 30 years, including helping people with sensory sensitivity who experience sensory overload. Christel has a hearing disability and experiences sensory sensitivity and sensory overload herself. She founded Sensory Friendly Solutions in 2016 to make the world more sensory-friendly, accessible and inclusive.