If you found your Thanksgiving holiday to be more doing (shopping, cleaning, prepping, cooking, serving, hosting, cleaning again) than being (listening, breathing, walking, seeing things and people in a simpler light, enjoying special moments), there’s still hope for you!
The next round of holidays is just around the corner and now is the time to set an intention to s-l-o-w down! Many people have come to realize how stressful this time of year can be and with a child with ASD, even more so. While some things are not within your control to change, some are. Here are some tips:
- Think about your traditions and appraise them in the here and now. For example, if you have always sent out holiday cards, ask if this is still meaningful for you and the recipients. Can you update your list of recipients and shorten it? If this year is particularly stressful, consider not sending cards this year and revisiting the issue next year. If you are nagged by “I should” and “I always”, ask yourself what the worst- case scenario would be if you skip this year. Will anyone disown you?
- Decide more is not better. Too often we spend extra time and money on “filler” such as what goes into a child’s stocking. I realized one year that I spent almost as much on the little stuff as I did on the “main present”. My answer was to stuff the lower half of the stocking with new socks and then add a few items on top. If you have many people on your list for gifts, just give one. Radical idea for the kids, I know! But as kids get older, the things they want are smaller and more expensive. There’s no need to buy more just so they have a lot to open. Last year I bombed on a number of items I bought for my family – things they didn’t really need or want. I vowed to recall this next time. It was one gift that made their day.
- Call to mind the small yet meaningful aspects of the holiday. We tend to get caught up in the gift-giving part and breeze past the moments that truly count. It could be the smell of fresh pine or a song that brings back childhood memories. This year decide to pay attention, to notice the small things. Make a mental note of them.
- Set your own pace. Television and the internet will convince you that time and gifts are running out and that you better hurry or else you’ll miss out. Turn it off. Tune it out. Recognize that the purpose of this is to sell something. Slow down and think through your list.
- Refrain from comparing. Expectations tend to be our downfall when it comes to the holidays. We compare ourselves with our own parents, other families, fictitious families on TV, Face Book families (they seem fictitious sometimes too!) and storybook families of holidays long, long ago. Instead of comparisons, think of possibilities. Leave some room for being adaptable to whatever may come your way.
Wishing you love, peace, and quiet this holiday season!
December. A month that for many brings holiday cheer, visits with family and friends, bargain shopping, twinkling lights, festive carols and songs, new memories, extra fun and novel experiences.
For others, it is a month filled with overwhelming family gatherings, endless shopping lists, crowded stores, bright lights, overplayed jingles, disrupted routines, and extra stress and chaos. In effort to support your children, and family, during the holiday buzz, try reading the social story “Celebrating the Holidays.” This interactive story allows you to talk with your child about the holiday(s) your family celebrates, and to write in your specific family plans to help prepare your child. You can download the holiday powerpoint presentation here Celebrating the Holidays Social Story.
We’d like to introduce you to our guest for today’s blog. Trevor is 23 years old and is the Media Director of his family’s business, Consetta Group.
Lynn: At what age were you diagnosed with ASD?
Trevor: At age 5
Lynn: Do you recall what and when your parents told you about your diagnosis?
Trevor: It was more I heard here and there growing up from my parents that I had autism, except for years I didn’t even know what it was. So the fact that I knew I was autistic had no effect on my childhood.
Lynn: Did you participate in any therapies such as ABA or speech or occupational therapy?
Trevor: Yes, I had speech therapy when I was little, and from Kindergarten through sixth grade I had extra accommodations through my school to help with social skills. I had these same types of accommodations in middle school and high school to focus on my academics, and in college I had occasional accommodations to help me in test taking.
Lynn: Did you participate in special education in school? Were you in an inclusion classroom or a contained classroom?
Trevor: The special accommodations I mentioned above during grade school were set in a separate room from my usual classroom, and was with one or two other students on the spectrum. I had none of this in middle school, but in high school I was placed in a special class to help students struggling with their grades.
Lynn: What has been the most challenging part of ASD for you?
Trevor: Making friends. It was never a problem for me in middle school or grade school, as I never had much of a desire to make friends. It was in high school and on to today where it became a desire and struggle for me.
Lynn: What do you think helped you the most with this challenge?
Trevor: It was mostly a matter of trial and error. The more people I met with, the better idea of who I wanted to be friends with. Eventually the right friends came to me, and they helped me to learn what being a good friend is about.
Lynn: Do you know young adults who have severe ASD?
Trevor: I know of several young adults with severe ASD, but none well enough to give a knowledgeable description about.
Lynn: If so, how do you think “your ASD” and “their ASD” are similar or different?
Trevor: Everyone’s story is different. I have never met two cases of ASD or Down syndrome that were exactly the same. One may be nonverbal, one may be more independent. It’s important that we not categorize between levels of functionality, because they are limitless.
Lynn: Do you think you have an understanding of how someone with severe ASD experiences/processes the world?
Trevor: I honestly do not. In order to know how someone experiences the world, you have to step in their brain for a day.
Lynn: What do you think about the idea that ASD isn’t a disability but a difference in thinking or personality?
Trevor: I think that it is unacceptable how few people grasp this concept. While people with disabilities may not be able to do commonly acceptable tasks such as writing, talking, or living independently, they still have so many other abilities involving the mind that others would only dream of having.
Lynn: When you think back on growing up, what do you think the adults in your life got right?
Trevor: That we need to respect and obey our authorities, for they are our role models.
Lynn: When you think back on growing up, what do you think the adults in your life got wrong?
Trevor: Their priorities in what I need to learn in school were all wrong. They try to say, “If you don’t do well in this subject you’ll never get a job!” But from what I now can tell, there is a profession for everyone big or small, even if it’s just putting labels on jars like I heard one person with ASD does for a living.
Lynn: There’s so much about ASD that we still don’t understand. What is your hope when it comes to current efforts at understanding what causes it and how we help those affected by it?
Trevor: We should not be worried about what causes it, because that immediately sets us into a mindset that autism is a curable disease. Our focus must be on how we can help children with ASD to know what their strengths are, and how to use them. I also would like to see the educational system accommodate itself to fit in with what the student is genuinely great at doing.
Trick or Treat at the Autism Center!
Seattle Children’s Autism Center holds an annual Trick or Treat practice party in the welcoming halls of the Autism Center. A (very) autism-friendly event for the entire family. Bring friends! All welcome at this relaxed fun-filled event designed for your family.
Come enjoy door-to-door trick or treating, costumes, treats, games, prizes, and our memorable sensory room. Dr. Travis Nelson from The Center for Pediatric Dentistry will be on hand with toothbrushes and non sugar goodie bags. Saturday Oct 29th from 10 am – noon. Seattle Children’s Autism Center 4909 25th Ave NE, Seattle 98105. Plenty of parking in front. Lots of volunteers to play with your goblins. Come feel at home in the hallways of the Autism Center.
Hope to see you there!