Enjoying a Safe Holiday Season

The holidays are anticipated as much by individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD) as those with no disabilities. With the pandemic still at large, it is more challenging for families to organize safe and healthy gatherings, altering family routines and traditions. Keep the holidays fun and light-hearted for everyone by using recommended safe practices and seeking out assistance as needed from nurturing and supporting organizations such as ILA.

Strategize Gatherings

Plan where and when celebrations will take place ahead of time. Individuals with I/DD are used to routines and will feel more comfortable in a familiar setting. If celebrating in different surroundings, it is a good idea to bring a kit bag of handy items geared to creating relaxation and a sense of security. Getting individuals involved in the planning process is also beneficial. Keeping a loved one with special needs free of anxiety is paramount to their and everyone’s enjoyment.

Fortunately, CDC guidelines now allow for larger family gatherings, with a few precautions in place. Measures adopted to keep celebrations safe, comfortable, and fun will help to create a healthy and festive environment. 

Vaccinations

Currently, there is a sizable percentage of the population who have not yet been vaccinated, but there is still time for people to receive their COVID-19 vaccine before the holidays. Raising their sleeves will help to protect themselves and keep vulnerable family members safe, including young children, the elderly, and individuals with I/DD. Brooklyn’s Independent Living Association provides important information and resources on its website to help individuals and families navigate the vaccination process.

Rapid Test Screening

Rapid antigen tests provide quick results within minutes, are easy to administer, and are not as invasive as COVID-19 swab tests, which is advantageous for those with disabilities who may be more sensitive to intrusive testing. OTC or over-the-counter test kits identify a high viral load and high transmission potential. Approved by the FDA, these screening kits, while not foolproof, are an added tool to help ensure the safety of family and friends during holiday gatherings.

Masks and Social Distancing

Keeping track of COVID outbreaks in your area during the holidays and avoiding hotspots will minimize the risk of exposure. Wearing masks in public and indoors is recommended and mandatory in some areas. Stay socially distanced when possible and always be supportive and respectful to anyone with physical, intellectual, and/or developmental disabilities.

Virtual Holiday Get-Togethers

Another way to protect loved ones and still connect with family and friends during the holidays is using free internet meeting apps for long-distance visits. Zoom remains a favorite tool for many people to achieve that visual, face-to-face effect.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

If outdoor celebrations are not an option due to weather, plan for indoor spaces to be well-ventilated and provide ample spacing in your seating arrangements.

Think out-of-the-box for ways to celebrate the season together in a warm, safe, and comfortable environment.