Autism & Christmas
Christmas is a very exciting time for children, I think that is a given! But for a child with Autism, it can also be extremely stressful, frightening, and overwhelming. I wish I understood what made Christmas so overwhelming for my son with Autism (I have some ideas)-let's be honest though, what "normal" adult doesn't feel overwhelmed at Christmas?! So, of course a child with Autism would feel it too!
My son Caleb seems to have a "Christmas Threshold" where he can tolerate just so much, then he cracks.
This year, we are staying with family for around 10 days (not sure yet-it depends on how much we're falling apart! ). And I am just hoping for the best....so far, he's only had a few minor meltdowns. :( He spent one night hiding in a dark bedroom away from everyone and everything. He was starting to fall apart, so we quickly ushered him into seclusion, and it did the trick, but it feels heartbreaking because he missed out on everything that night (including the family photo-he has a deep fear/distain for group family photos!).
In years past, we looked forward to Christmas with much (MUCH!!!) anxiety, knowing that Caleb could at any moment fall apart-and fall apart hard. He would seem fine, but then (with us not really knowing why) he would turn into a screaming, flailing, out-of-control little guy. It was so sad to watch, and then either my husband or I would take him into a quiet bedroom to let him continue un-raveling, or we would pack up and go (with people staring).
Last night and today he is spending time with a favorite relative, my brother-in-law Steve. Yes, he loves the rest of that family too, but he really loves Steve. I mean, he's a real cowboy for goodness sake (hahaha....those who know Steve know how funny that illusion is....) :)
Special moments, like visiting Steve, really make Caleb so happy during our visits to family, and help him to stay happy. It also gives my husband and I a much needed break. Do we love Caleb? Obviously we do! But do we need our moments away from him? We sure do!
Caleb has had some shining moments this Christmas though-like his Christmas concert at school. Just a few years ago, he had a crying, upset fit because we had gone to school in the evening (not normal), we were with him there (not normal)-it was all just "off" to him, so he fell apart. This year? We got to school, he went where he needed to go, and put on a great show (see the fabulous picture below of him "Rocking around the Christmas tree"!)
This Christmas, let yourself become aware of how this upside-downsy season might make someone feel who is constantly trying to make sense of the world. A child who finds a "normal" day overwhelming is being asked to dress in their prickly church clothes, visit family who get in your face to say, "hi!" very loudly, look at bright, twinkly lights everywhere, hear the sounds of ripping paper, & lots of chatter, smelling lots of foods, and perfumes-some of these things can be fun-but really, too much for a kid with Autism.
Be extra patient, extra kind, and show some extra love. That will help anyone have a great Christmas-but especially a child with Autism (and also their parents!). :)
12/25/2013 11:01:56 pm
Christmas with Aidan went really well this year. It was lovely to have him so engaged with the activities. We never take him to church with us however. There are limits.
12/26/2013 02:53:50 am
Haha, there sure are limits!!! :) I'm really happy Aidan was engaged and enjoyed his Christmas! It's one thing to just get through the festivities, but it's another thing altogether to know that the kids actually enjoyed it. I hope you had a good Christmas too! xoxoxo
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Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
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