You cannot deny that the holiday season is out of this world stressful for ASD parents.
Over the holidays, I have read many stories of extremely upset parents that felt the day was a failure and that they felt they let everyone down because of their Autistic childs behaviours and the demand of their needs. That their child did not seem to appreciate any gifts and were rude to family members and this made the parent feel hopeless, embarrassed and emotional.
We need to remember that our ASD children don’t change just because of Christmas. If anything, their needs become greater and their triggers become more intense.
As parents start to rush around shopping, changing the decor of the house and visitors start turning up all of a sudden, it really is intense and sometimes scary for the ASD child.
When planning our Christmas activities and days, they need to be planned around our ASD child & their needs like we do on a normal daily basis, not expect our child to just “fit into the season” because it just won’t happen that way.
Our Christmases with our ASD child will never be like what we experienced as a child or what you envisioned they would be like before having children.
If your child can’t handle many visitors, don’t put them in that position. If your child can’t handle decorations, don’t put them up. Maybe find other ways to represent the season. If your child doesn’t like opening gifts, change how you give them and how many at once. If your child expresses disappointment in a gift, explain to family the why’s and let them deal with their own feelings about it, because your job is focusing on your child not the feelings of grown adults. ASD people cannot “fake” emotions and responses so we shouldn’t force them to at Christmas just because Neurotypical people can fake a smile and a thank you.
We really need to embrace our life with Autism and learn to adapt and change our ways so that we can enjoy the celebrations with them instead of expecting them to enjoy the celebrations with us.
We need to own our Autism family and educate family members along the way. If family members choose to make you feel in anyway negative about your family unit and how you celebrate Christmas in an Autism way, well, maybe they should not be part of it.
*Raises Glass* Congratulations on surviving the holidays & I wish you all a Happy New Year.