Getting Through the Holidays With a Child Who Has Autism
Christmas can be a stressful time of year for anyone. Christmas with a special needs child can add another layer of things to think that. As a mother of a child with Autism, Christmas has had to change a little from what I would thought it would be like.
I know my son, what he can handle, and what he can’t. We can’t always do everything everyone else does and that is okay. We can still make the holiday season a good one. It just might look a little different then it does in other households.
My son is a very picky eater. I totally get that. I have to make sure he is eating enough and enough of those foods are healthy for him, which isn’t always easy. But even something simple like a cookie can cause an issue.
The kid does not like chocolate chip cookies. He loves sugar cookies. He loves chocolate but not chocolate chip cookies. He loves steak but not chicken or turkey. He likes carrots and broccoli sometimes but no other veggies. It’s a challenge when a lot of holiday activities include food.
Will he like what is there? Will he find anything to eat? I learned that it is best to plan that there will not be much he will want to eat and feed him before or after the event. That way he can grab a roll or two as a snack and I won’t have to worry he is missing a meal. This takes a lot of the stress off.
My son has a hard time with crowds and loud places. He can handle them sometimes for a limited amount of time. I have to keep this in mind as a lot of the community events around here are very loud and crowded.
We don’t get to do everything with him and that is fine. I try to make sure I am aware of how busy a place is going to be before we go. Preparing my son ahead of time helps too or just letting him know how long we are going to stay at that place. In some cases we might even bring headphones for him to wear.
Sometimes things are too much and we have to cancel our plans or go home early. The difficiult part about this is that he does have two brothers that might not understand why we have to go. That is why I try hard to plan ahead as much as possible.
I try to make sure that if we are all going to go to someone else’s house for a holiday party or get together that it is a safe place for him. A place where people understand who he is. I find that if we are not in a place like that I stress out way too much and it is hard for me to relax.
If my husband is gone, I have to be even more careful about it as I won’t have that extra set of hands to help if need be. Luckily my oldest son can help with the 7-year-old so I can help my son with Asperger’s get through a situation if need be. I am thankful for friends with safe places for me to bring my son to play and enjoy time with others.
When someone has Asperger’s they tend to focus on one thing. This is especially true when it comes to Christmas gifts. It is hard to not want to give my son exactly what he wants.
For one thing, I know how fixed on it he is. However, sometimes the gift is not affordable or not something I want to have in this house. He was a little stuck on one item that I just didn’t think was worth the price. He kept asking for it over and over and I had to tell them it just wasn’t going to happen.
I tried to get him to focus on something else and eventually he did. This was hard but I am glad I didn’t just buy him that toy. He also told me to never make chocolate chip cookies again and you know that is never going to happen.
I feel like anything to do with my son with Asperger’s has to be planned out. If it isn’t, things might not go well and then I get frustrated, he gets frustrated, and it doesn’t make for an enjoyable time. I want the holidays to be a special and fun time for my kids. I hope that I can weigh what my son needs with what we can do and push him just enough to grow but not where things are going to spiral out of control. This is a hard balance sometimes.