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  • Writer's pictureCircles of Communication

The Calming Corner's Role for Families in Navigating Communication and Emotions

The holiday season, with its festive cheer and family gatherings, can be a time of joy and togetherness. However, for neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals alike, the sensory overload, social demands, and changes in routine can make this time challenging. In such moments, the concept of a calming corner becomes an invaluable resource, providing essential support for communication and emotional regulation across neurotypes.

We have written about unique considerations for neurotypical individuals during the holidays in several previous blog posts, but the calming corner continues to stand out as a useful tool for all members of the family regardless of age and ability. Believe it or not, we have seen people of all ages and abilities utilize the calming corner in the therapy studio on tough days, even parents and siblings of clients!

Heightened sensory experiences seem to be around every corner during the holidays and can be particularly challenging for individuals with sensory differences. Bright lights, loud noises, and crowded spaces can quickly lead to sensory overload. A calming corner, equipped with soft lighting, noise-canceling elements, and comforting textures, becomes a refuge where sensory stimuli are minimized, allowing individuals to regulate their sensory experiences.

We often see tensions running high during the holidays, making the task of expressing emotions even more complex than usual. The calming corner provides a safe and understanding space where emotions can be freely expressed without judgment. Whether through speech, AAC, writing, or gestures and signs, the calming corner fosters a dedicated space where emotional expression is both acknowledged and validated in an environment conducive to clear and meaningful communication.

Furthermore, holiday gatherings may introduce changes in routine, social expectations, and unfamiliar environments, all of which can be stressors for neurodivergent individuals. The calming corner serves as a tool for building emotional resilience by offering a predictable and controlled space. In moments of stress, individuals can retreat to the calming corner, allowing them to self-regulate and regain a sense of power over their emotional experiences.

Empowerment and autonomy are cornerstones of the calming corner's impact on neurodivergent individuals during the holidays. By recognizing the need for a calming space and encouraging its use, families foster a culture of understanding and acceptance. This promotes a sense of belonging during holiday celebrations, contributing to a more harmonious and joyous atmosphere for everyone.

While we believe calming corners make an incredibly useful retreat during the holidays, we’d also encourage you to make them a permanent fixture in your homes. They don’t always have to be “kid” spaces. We challenge you to create a room or transform a corner of your home that is inviting to all ages and abilities, complete with calming colors, soft lighting, lush blankets and cushions, preferably in a quieter area of the home. Consider adding tactile objects like stress balls, fidget toys, or textured fabrics to provide a grounding experience. You can involve each family member in the process by inviting them to add a favorite thing to the space. And, if you’re traveling, we challenge you to pack a small bag with calming tools to bring along to create a portable, temporary respite space.

As we strive for inclusive and empathetic holiday celebrations, incorporating and respecting the use of calming corners becomes an essential step in creating a festive environment where all individuals can experience the magic of the holidays in their unique way.

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