With Christmas quickly approaching and a house full of kids with Autism, we are bracing ourselves for a very challenging couple of weeks. Christmas is every kids favorite holiday and our kids are no exception. The difference is how our kids handle things.
What kid doesn’t get excited about opening presents or eating tons of Christmas cookies. Most kids are able to manage, especially with the help of their parents.
Kids on the Autism spectrum tend not to manage so well, even with the help of their parents. The anticipation of opening presents, wondering/worrying about what they’re getting and all the other excitement associated with the holiday’s, can be extremely overwhelming. As Autism parents, we know what overwhelming can lead to and that’s the dreaded meltdown.
I’ve always referred to this as fallout. After every major holiday, there’s almost always at least some fallout. Our goal is limit this fallout as much as possible because it’s miserable for our kids when they’re going through it and a nightmare for us trying to manage them while they’re going through it.
Every single year, my wife and I do our best to find some sort of balance between celebrating the holiday and surviving it.
This year, we’ve decided to go to a party on Lizze’s side of the family. We haven’t been to one in a long time, but not because we didn’t want to be there. It’s all about making decisions that are in the best interests of those who are most profoundly impacted by our decisions.
I wish there was an easier way to make it through this time of year, especially for our kids. Unfortunately, aside from scrapping the holiday all together, and trust me, the thought has entered my mind before, all we can do is try to find balance.
We have to consider a great many things when figuring out what we should do.
What can the kids handle without putting them over the edge? What can we handle without the kids putting us over the edge? It’s a very blurry line and we’ve yet to find the perfect solution.
We always make sure that the boys have their tablets with them, in case they need to escape for a little while and decompress. Maybe they listen to music or watch a video to calm down. We limit the amount of time we’re there as well. Sometimes, a little bit goes a long way. Most importantly however, we try to follow their lead. If they’re getting overwhelmed or nearing the limits of their abilities to cope, we help them. If we can’t help them through it, we pull the plug, head home and decompress.
This year, we will be spending a little more time with family and less time at home. We’re excited to be with our families because we love and miss them. At the same time, we also know there will likely be a price for going.
Like I said, it’s all about balance. Trial and error is really the only way to move forward. If it works, great, we keep moving. If it doesn’t, we take a few steps back and change course.
What do you do to minimize the impact that the holidays can have in your child with Autism?