In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, we here at Seattle Children’s Autism Center thank you for your support of our blog and our work with families living with autism.
Holidays bring both stress and joy so take a couple deep breaths and mindfully keep it as simple as possible so there is less stress and more joy.
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.