So we have arrived. It is Christmas Eve Day. My day is busy like I’m sure all of yours is. It is a full day of baking, playing and making sure the child/ren get to bed on time so Santa can bring the gifts, i.e. Mom and/or Dad can bring the wrapped gifts down to the tree to set up the authentic magical Christmas. 🙂 I used to be crazy enough to actually leave the wrapping too until the last minute, not only because I was so busy right up until the end, but to give that authentic Santa/Elf feeling. Yes, I was crazy! That was also in the days before autism came into my life and made me realize a very different kind of Christmas celebration. Don’t get me wrong. Our Christmas is still magical and joyful. We eat and drink as much as everyone else, (sometimes even more so) :), but we have to keep in mind how these traditions can be amazing yet overpowering for our little guy whose brain is wired a little differently than ours, and processes things in a more intense way. Searching for and keeping peace in our immediate and extended circle can sometimes become a bit of a challenge. Or it can push us to devise routines, schedules, which is not as bad as it sounds.
There are times when this is good though. Like we can’t afford to get out of whack with sleep/wake schedules in our home. It would be a sensory disaster for our whole gang, and I mean all of us! Michael also has shown us how to enjoy, really enjoy, every experience of the holiday. He loves going to stores as much as he does play dates at home, fun centers and playing with me. He appreciates the little things. He LOVES food and the goodies. He is as excited right now about the goodies he will eat on Christmas as he is about the people he will see. It’s not that he doesn’t like or love those people. It’s just that other things that are more predictable, like the food being served, are sometimes safer to get excited about. There is also the whole thing about object attachment that people with autism have. Again, much easier to grasp than people and their emotions. It has helped me see and appreciate him and people with autism in a new way. Then he will talk about the charities we have contributed to, and be excited that we helped in some way. He will ask frank questions about people who are struggling, like he does about God and religion. Then in the next breath he will inform his grandmother that he hopes she got him his favorite figurine he asked for.
So he is a typical child, and a not-so-typical child, or like a friend of mine has stated, my child ranges in age from 2 to 8 on any given day.:) Milestones he didn’t complete when younger will annoyingly come out at eight instead of when we expected them, at four, yet then he will impress us with “big boy” questions we didn’t know he could ask. I am always happy to be amazed by Michael and learn from him in a myriad of ways. Christmas Day is a day of magic, family, food, and like with families to some degree or another, watching to see when it is time for us to head home if we are all tired.
Exceptional Parents, what are some ways you maintain or strive for peace within your Exceptional Families, communities? What are you and your child’s favorite part of the days ahead? How do you and your family cope with the stresses the holiday season brings? I’m sure you have your strategies that work to keep equilibrium. Remember, that whatever you do, be true to who your child is, to who your family is. Then you will be true to what you all stand for. Happy Christmas Eve! Until next time.