Michael may have autism and the holidays may be a little intense for him, but it doesn’t mean he loves it any less. I think he loves it as much as any neuro typical child, and this year it is beautiful to see a new development, Michael’s sense of giving to those who have less. It started in the fall when he decided to give away toys of his that he was not playing with, but that he knew would benefit other kids.
“Mommy, I’m going to go through the toys I don’t play with anymore. I want to bring them to my old preschool and give them to the little ones there who might like them. They could also give them to families who don’t have a lot of money.”
Since he was little, his father and I have always been telling Michael how fortunate he is. And though we are not wealthy, we have always had enough to put food on the table, pay our bills, and Michael has never wanted for anything. It is a lot more than a lot of other families have. Many struggle every day to eat, keep a roof over their families’ heads, and clothe themselves and their children, never mind things like toys and school supplies which are necessary, but become luxuries when the basic necessities of life are hard to meet. Our church does a lot of collections for various charities, as does Michael’s school, and we always talk to him about what the true meaning of the holidays is, gathering with family and friends to be grateful for all the blessings we have and sharing that with others who may not have as much. Being Christian, we talk about what Jesus did, how he stayed among the poor and helped the destitute, the people that society frowned upon.
When Michael first learned there were children who didn’t have enough to eat or clothes to wear, I remember his shock. Now, every year, and especially around this time of year, he talks about giving to “people who don’t have what I have Mommy.” We will be giving to our church’s sock drive for homeless men and women next week. This year Michael will be helping us pack the socks. He also knows we give presents to show love for each other, and that giving is better than receiving. I wasn’t sure that the message was getting across, but seeing him act the way he has this year, respecting the cost of things, asking questions about poverty and wealth. and wanting to participate in more giving than receiving, makes me excited and proud that he is understanding the true meaning of the holidays.
Exceptional Parents, how do you explain the spirit of giving during the holidays? How do you explain the true meaning of this time of year to your Exceptional Children? It’s important to start by modeling true giving yourself, volunteering time and effort for good causes, or participating as a family in a cause to help the greater good. By doing this, you show your Exceptional Child the need that is great in our world at the present time as much as ever, which is connection and helping fellow humankind to live together in harmony. Until next time.