Are you planning your Thanksgiving gathering of friends and family? Want to make it more accessible and inclusive this year? You can make features of the gathering sensory-friendly. Moreover, you can use sensory-friendly Thanksgiving greetings!
While family and friend dinners, traditions and celebrations are fun, they can also be overwhelming. In particular, gatherings like Thanksgiving can be a challenge for the many people who experience sensory sensitivity or sensory overload.
Greetings friends and family are a big part of Thanksgiving. However, they can be uncomfortable for some. According to the article from neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz, “Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch,” a 2012 study proposed that the brains of people high in autistic traits do not necessarily “code” touch as socially relevant 1. So include greeting that do not include touch, to be more sensory-friendly! Offering sensory-friendly greetings as an option, can be a big part of a sensory-friendly Thanksgiving! A sensory-friendly greeting is a way to greet someone in a way that is more comfortable for the senses. Greeting unfamiliar people, in particular, with touch like hugs and kisses, can contribute to sensory overload, or be a challenge for someone with sensory sensitivities.
Read on to learn about sensory-friendly Thanksgiving greetings that make people feel comfortable.
Contact greetings are often used to welcome someone else. The most common example is a hug. Contact greetings are good options for someone who enjoys physical contact with other people. Some people do like hugs! Making them short (like a 3 second rule) or firm (instead of light touch) helps. However, hugs might be overwhelming, so be sure to offer different types of contact greetings, like:
- foot taps
- fist bumps
- elbow bumps
On the other hand, many people prefer contactless greetings. According to the article, written by neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz, “Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch,” a 2012 study, a possible interpretation is that the brains of people high in autistic traits do not necessarily “code” touch as socially relevant. While autistic people of all ages may not like greetings that involve contact or touch, so, too, do many other people want to avoid them!
To make guest comfortable, introduce contactless greeting at Thanksgiving:
- the bow
- saying hello
- air hug
- thumbs up
- air high five
- air kiss
- The Indian salutation, “Namaste”
Share ideas for sensory-friendly Thanksgiving greetings in advance with your guests! Post them at the door and let guests choose!
Wishing you a happy, healthy, sensory-friendly Thanksgiving that is just right for your senses!
Looking for more ideas about creating a sensory-friendly Thanksgiving? Read these blog posts:
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- Szalavitz, M. (2012). Understanding Why Autistic People May Reject Social Touch. TIME. https://healthland.time.com/2012/03/19/understanding-why-autistic-people-may-reject-social-touch/