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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Nov 25, 2021

Episode 117: Thriving Through The Holidays

In this episode, Dr. Koonce discusses the best ways to thrive through the holidays with children who have special needs. She also discusses helpful at-home ABA strategies. It is important to prepare for the holidays with your special needs kids for many reasons, including loss of routine, change in structure, trying to set a new routine for a short time, having other people living in or visiting in our space, more planning for things that are new, eating schedules, bathing schedules, navigating face masks, and fatigue. She recommends that you as a parent see what emotional resources you have available before trying a lot of new things during the holidays. Keep your children in contact with some daily routines during the holiday season. Figure out where your strengths are, and play up those. Think about what is actually doable for you and your family during the holiday break. Use a tag-team approach. Preplan all troubleshooting, when possible. Try to set up a village or community with other parents, in order to have a partnership or extra assistance. For family who cannot make it in person to celebrate the holidays, find creative ways to “include” them. Schedule things based on activities rather than time. Make sure to keep your needs in mind and offer yourself self-care. Don’t try to make things perfect. Instead, focus on the things that mean the most to you. Involve your children in the activities as much as possible, in ways they can participate. Share experiences with them. Plan fun activities to look forward to in the future.


The best at-home ABA strategy is to create antecedent interventions. Figure out what you and your child need in the moment. Model behaviors that you want them to do. It is ok for us to make mistakes. Think about what is actually doable. Ask providers what you can do in the meantime while you are on the waiting list. Do other therapies in the meantime. Consider a one-time consult to help in the interim. ABA can also provide recommendations to your school providers for ways that the school could help support or help that child. Sometimes, you can start in clinic ABA prior to starting at-home ABA.


Dr. Koonce recommends several ways to find trainings for parents in ABA. Reach out to local universities, as practicum students may be able to offer trainings for credit. There are lots of online ABA trainings as well. There can be live online collaborations or courses. You can go through the registered behavior technician trainings.


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Show Music:

Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Theme Song: 90s rock style by monkeyman535 under CC-BY 3.0 License (

Self Care Song: Green and Orange No Water by Duncan Alex under CC-BY 3.0 License (


Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple


Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2021 Jessica Temple