Ah, the Holidays…..
They always end up being so hectic and stressful. Add an autistic child in the mix and things become even more chaotic. I wrote to our therapist about Lila and Christmas. The truth is – the gifts mean nothing to Lila. She could care less. Know what SHE wants for Christmas? Her balloons and ping pong balls, and for Mommy and Daddy to be at home playing with her.
See… we all have these preconceived ideas about the holidays and what they “should” look like. Baking cookies with our children, watching their eyes light up while we explain to them about Santa and the reindeer, listening to Christmas music, decorating the tree together, having a picture taken with Santa, going to look at Christmas lights, visiting family, all while our perfectly wrapped presents sit under the tree. And we don’t stress – we just ENJOY the holiday season, right?
Is that REALLY how it is for anyone?!? I have my doubts. You know…we’ve already re-arranged our entire lives for Lila and her autism, but for whatever reason, it never occurred to me that we could flip the script on the holidays as well. Our SoonerStart therapist Janet sent me the following in an e-mail. I genuinely believe it’s something ALL special needs parents need to hear, so I wanted to share it with you:
“There are SO many social norms and expectations surrounding the holidays. It’s like there is a big book of items that are stereotypical and everyone feels if they aren’t ticking off a certain number of them, they aren’t doing it right. So many holiday things are hard for people with ASD. Different foods/cooking smells, more often or longer travel times to infrequently visited homes with unfamiliar people and a different schedule, things you can’t touch, sitting on Santa’s lap, opening gifts, more shopping trips, all the forced social interactions, I could go on and on….
This is a great opportunity to ditch all the “normal” expectations and start to develop BETTER, new, fun, ways for you all to do the holiday thing. Free yourself from all that garbage and follow her lead. You can celebrate in an AUTHENTIC and true way to your family. Your special twist on things will mean so much more to her than ANY gift. It’s kind of exciting and freeing isn’t it – to get to rewrite the book and tick your own things off? You are going to have a much better time than a lot of “normal” families. Makes you almost feel sorry for them…. :-)”
So…. Please take that advice and do as you wish with it. I hope it helps you and your families like it has helped me. Our holidays won’t ever be what typical families would consider normal, but maybe – just maybe… they will be even better. Happy Holidays and much love to all of you and your beautiful, different little families!