Merry Christmas to all of you out there celebrating a day of family, food, togetherness and craziness that is the norm at this time of year. It is a time of getting together, laughing, catching up with loved ones, and yes, for us Exceptional Parents out there, it is also a day of watching out that our children do not become so overstimulated that they and we, can’t enjoy the activities happening around them. It is day when parents have to remember to bring the food, the wine, and the sensory bag. Never leave home without your child’s kit because we all know, their success is your success at a party. It is a day when peace is sometimes elusive until they fall asleep at night and you right after them pretty much, but it is always a day worth trying. Only in us trying us parents to help our kids in the world, whether that world is their school, their community, their family’s home, to succeed, to adapt and have some fun in an environment that is not always ideal, is the best preparation for them to lead as independent a life one day as possible.
Of course, as parents you do have to see your child’s comfort level overall with coping with large groups of people, noise, routine being changed etc. There is a happy medium you can settle on as a family, and is unique to your family. But the happiness you’ll feel that you tried new things with you child will not be lost on them. Whatever their level of relating to you is, they will sense your belief in their ability to cope, your love for them, and your sense of their mastery. The worst we can do to anyone, is show them we don’t believe in them. And the adventure in anything is trying. If it doesn’t work, there are always other options, other things to do. The holidays don’t have to be “perfect.” Even in so-called “neuro-typical” families they rarely are. But let your family be in the moment. Do what feels right for you and your child. For our family opening Christmas gifts, followed by one day of celebration with my side of the family and another day of celebration with my husband’s is what work for us.
We make sure the visits are not too long, and the bedtime hours not too different from our regular ones. We venture out into the unknown with different outings sometimes. Some have worked, some have not, but I have learned to never underestimate Michael. When I give him the benefit of the doubt, I am rarely wrong with what he can cope with.
Exceptional Parents, what are your Christmas or holiday traditions, your tricks of the trade, so to speak? What do you do as a family that is important to you, and hence, will probably be to your child one day? Whatever it is, remember that your child will only grow by your belief in them, and to enjoy the holidays, in all their crazy unpredictability. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. May you have peace, love, joy and never fail to belief in your Exceptional Family. Until next time.