Holidays for families with special needs children can be challenging-especially for those on the autism spectrum.
When holidays come, our children have to deal with many different stressors:
- Their schedule is thrown off.
- They are usually dressed in clothes that are uncomfortable to them.
- They are surrounded by lots of people who want to interact with them, try to talk and approach them, and they are in a busy and noisy environment.
I used to have heightened expectations of how holidays were going togo, how my children should act, and what my family will think of them, but after three years of raising a special needs child, I have let all of that go.
I cannot control what I cannot control.
But I try to control what I can to make every Holiday as successful as possible for our family and our relatives.
So what can I can control?
Food-I bring my own, things I know that the kids will eat, and I tell the person hosting the party that we will get our own food so they aren’t surprised when we arrive with Lunchables, strawberries, and goldfish.
Clothes-we generally don’t dress them up in holiday clothes or make sure they are comfortable.
For example: on Halloween, we don’t get our son traditional costumes-we instead get him pajamas that look like Halloween outfits. They are comfortable, reusable, and he feels comfortable in them.
Activity: For my son, we usually bring something he can use to stim- a small trampoline or a bouncy ball. We also usually bring an iPad or his Gameboy so that he has something to do if there isn’t anything there to keep him occupied.
Exit strategy-we have an exit strategy, depending on the event, we might drive two cars so that if the children are acting up, or one wants to leave, one of us can go, and the other can stay.This allows us to respect the wishes of our children too. We encourage them to participate in these gathers by taking them, but when they are ready to go, we respect those wishes and we leave.