For many Muslims, Ramadan is the most sacred time of the year. According to a qualitative study titled, “A Qualittaive Study of Ramadan: A Month of Fasting, Family, and Faith” conducted by Alghafli et al (2019), Ramadan is a time of the year when it is devoted to enriching spirituality. Including more Muslims is important by removing sensory barriers 1. As Ramadan approaches, the Muslim community is preparing for the most sacred month of the year in the Islamic calendar. Muslim around the world observe Ramadan by fasting from sunrise to sunset, praying and giving charity. This is also a time when families and friends frequently gather and spend a lot of time together. Although this is a very special time of year, for many children and adults, it can contribute to sensory overload and stress. Ramadan can be a particular challenge for children with sensory processing disorder or autism. The change in routine, interacting with extended family members, busy Iftaar tables and visiting other people’s homes is often overwhelming. A sensory-friendly Ramadan helps address sensory overload.
This blog post shares 5 ways you can create a sensory-friendly Ramadan for your family this year.
Plan in advance
One important step to creating a sensory-friendly Ramadan is by preparing in advance. Ramadan changes your daily routine.
For example, your family may not be used to waking up for breakfast before sunrise. Moreover, your family may not be accustomed to the lack of snacks or meals throughout the day. And finally, waiting until sunset to have dinner, staying up late for prayers, and gathering in large groups with family and friends for Iftaar are also, likely unfamiliar. You’re likely to sleep less, eat different foods, and engage in different activities that what you typically do. All of these changes can be overwhelming and lead to increased stress levels.
Therefore, it is important to prepare your child well before the start of Ramadan. Begin slightly adjusting sleep and wake times, as well as breakfast and dinner times, even by 15 minute intervals, a few days in advance. This will help your family wake up for Suhoor, when you begin your fast, and Iftaar, when you break your fast. Also, introduce and practice eating foods that your family will have during Ramadan. Practice social skills and and introduce religious practices that your family will be engaging in. You can do so using pictures, videos, and books about Ramadan! This will ensure that your child has an idea of what to expect. Look at pictures and videos of past Ramadan celebrations to remind your child of what to expect. And encourage your child to “play” Ramadan. Children learn through play and practice many skills through play. Finally talk about Ramadan and give your child an opportunity to ask questions and learn more!
Remember to add small changes to make Ramadan a little less overwhelming for your child. For example, if you know that your child enjoys a specific type of food, offer it for Iftaar or Suhoor. Including things that are familiar help everyone adapt to new experiences.
Communicate your sensory-friendly Ramadan plans with friends and family
If you are planning on creating a sensory-friendly Ramadan experience with family members and friends, it is important to let everyone know what to expect. If you are adding some sensory-friendly features to you home or Ramadan celebrations, giving everyone attending a quick heads up will help them feel more comfortable! A short email, text or “orientation” to the household when they arrive are easy strategies. Additionally, this may also help them incorporate sensory-friendly features in their own Ramadan celebrations as well. This may even make their homes more comfortable for you, your family, and other guests!
Create a sensory-friendly quiet room
Another important step is to a sensory-friendly Ramadan for your family is to have a dedicated quiet space. This can simply be done in a spare room in your home! A quiet space offers a break from the loud sounds of family members and guests gathering. Consider adding some comfortable seating, fidgets, books, weighted lap pads and quiet activities. This will be a safe place for when anyone feels overwhelmed or stressed.
Introduce calming strategies
In addition to creating a sensory-friendly space, you can also introduce other calming strategies before or during Ramadan. When anyone feels overwhelmed by the change in routine from Ramadan, sensory-friendly toys, like fidgets, can help! You can also do group yoga or meditation. These strategies will help your family have a comfortable and calm Ramadan!
Host Ramadan festivities in your own home
Lastly, another suggestion to help to create a more sensory-friendly is to host Ramadan festivities, like Iftaar parties, at your home. For many children with sensory sensitivities, going to unfamiliar homes can be extremely overwhelming and confusing. By hosting in your home, you ensure that your child is comfortable in their own space.
For more information, check out About Islam’s blog post recounting parents’ first-count experiences of developing a more sensory-friendly Ramadan celebration! Wishing you and your family a happy, sensory-friendly Ramadan!
Interested in learning more about tips for home? Read:
- How to Manage Sensory Overload at the Mosque
- Host a Sensory-Friendly Iftaar Party
- Host a Sensory-Friendly Eid Party
- Five Steps to a Sensory-Friendly Eid
- How to Offer a Sensory-Friendly Eid Prayer
Finally, share this blog post with your local Mosque: How to Offer Sensory-Friendly Taraweeh Prayer
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- Alghafli, Z., Hatch, T., Rose, A., Abo-Zena, M., Marks, L., & Dollahite, D. (2019). A Qualitative Study of Ramadan: A Month of Fasting, Family, and Faith. Religions, 10(2), 123. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020123