People with sensory processing issues generally fall into two categories. People are either oversensitive (hypersensitive) to sensory input, under sensitive (hyposensitive), or a mixture of the two. For people who are oversensitive, bright or flickering lights, loud noises, certain textures of food, and scratchy clothing can act as “triggers” for feelings of discomfort. These reactions can be intense and at times lead to what is referred to as ”sensory overload”. When a person is experiencing sensory overload, it can be very difficult for them to keep themselves and what they are feeling organized. Their reaction may be expressed as a “melt down” or conversely, they may “shut down”. “Melt downs” are different from ordinary temper tantrums, though to the uninformed they may look very similar. Melt downs are beyond the control of the person experiencing them. They are very difficult to manage and most often need to simply run their course. Over time, when a person becomes aware of their own triggers, they may begin to display avoidance behaviors- staying away from certain types of sensory input because it is overwhelming. Thinking about sensory hypersensitivity in the context of the holidays, it’s easy to see how challenges could arise. Hanukkah and Christmas are sometimes referred to as the “Season of Light”. Decorations are filled with light and sound. Thanksgiving often brings large groups of people together with unfamiliar food, different clothing choices and a myriad of unfamiliar sensory input. Any holiday that is an opportunity for gift giving, especially of high tech toys and gadgets, can result in an explosion of new sources of light, sounds and texture. This can be stressful when a typical day with sensory differences is already challenging.