Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting Through the Holidays!?

We chose the punctuation above for a reason -- cautious optimism and the hope that, with the right guidance and attitude, we can make it through the winter holidays, possibly even with some happy memories. So if you, your families, and your friends are hunkering down for the holidays; and if you, like some of us are also a bit ... stressed about changes in routine, location, or faces -- consider what the wise folks below have to say about navigating this most tumultuous time of the year. And if you have any advice, please leave it in the comments below!

Happy Holidays, friends. -The Editors

----

Self-advocate Annabelle Listic:

...it is especially important, during the holidays, for any autistic person to have:
  1.  A way to communicate basic needs, emotions, opinions (a travel dry erase board, sticky notes with simple language on each, a typing program on a phone, tablet, or laptop, a notebook to write in, et cetra)
  2. A safe place to retreat to in times of a needed break from others, escalation, and meltdowns
  3. Guidance to remember to take breaks, and to stim (it may make him/her feel more comfortable to see you stim with them)
 Read Annabelle's entire article Holidays, Autism, and Getting Through at Squag.com.

Parent Kate Gallagher Leong:
"My son Gavin has cerebral palsy and when he turned two, I wrapped every present and couldn't wait for him to open them on Christmas morning," says Kate Gallagher Leong of Chasing Rainbows
"It was one of the worst mornings of his little life. He has issues with fine-motor skills, and forcing him to use his hands to rip open the paper was more like therapy than Christmas. That's when I realized I shouldn't project my Norman Rockwell Christmas onto my child. The following year, every toy was out of its box and ready to play with, making a bright and inviting display under the tree. The look on Gavin's face as he moved from one toy to the other made it the best morning of all our lives!"
Read the rest of Ellen Seidman's article 5 Ways to Make the Holidays Happier for Children with Special Needs at Care.com.

Self-Advocate Corina Becker:
The holidays are filled with meeting people, lots of relatives, crowded house, parties, and other social complications that can make the basics, such as manners for receiving presents, more difficult to remember and perform.

Please keep in this in mind when interacting with others, that even if you know an autistic that is capable of being more polite, the overwhelming pressure on their social skills (and other skills) may mean that they are functioning on a lower level than their norm.  It may be taxing for them to remember simple Please and Thank Yous.

Be mindful of this, and be patient.  Little reminders on manners are okay, but don't be too insistent, because this is a very hard time of year and keeping the stress levels as low as possible all around is a good idea.
Corina's full article Surviving the Holidays with Autism, at Thinking Person's Guide to Autism.