Today my son came home from school and seemed flustered and frustrated because, “Mom the kids were all having too much fun and acting silly.” As I dragged more out of him by my probing questions, I understood that all kids are getting anxious because Christmas is right around the corner; therefore, it is harder to stay focused on school work. I mean next week, “Let the PARTIES begin!!!” and we all LOVE IT!….but do kids with autism love it? Unfortunately, many times the answer is “no”. It isn’t because they want to be Scrooge, many times it is because they do not know how! As I ponder those thoughts for a moment, I tear up. The world of autism is hard sometimes! Many times! And we have to be aware of this fact. The confusion that enters a child with autism’s mind as:
“Routines are altered”. It may be fun for the normal kid who gets to avoid school work and celebrate with another party, but it is difficult for a child with autism to adjust quickly and be happy with the change in routine. Don’t force a child with autism to play games and socialize. Possibly allow them to play on a game system to bring joy to their world while the other kids engage in Christmas parties. Make it fun for them, but do not expect them to have fun in the same way other kids are.
“Family Gatherings”. The season of Christmas brings families together and with this comes much visiting and traveling and my favorite, food. For a child with autism, who has difficulty socializing, this may be a terrifying time in their lives. Please be cautious of this because they will not turn into a “social butterfly” because a Christmas bug bit them. Prepare your family/ friends in advance and allow them to have “alone” time even when the family gathers. They cannot process too many conversations going on at once and this can surely cause a meltdown or shutdown.
“Presents”. Sometimes as parents, in an effort to “seek joy in autism” we may spend a little more money on our child with autism because we think this may make them happier during what is supposed to be “the happiest time of the year”. Please do not! They do not find joy in materialistic things and opening more presents. Instead as your family gathers, share aloud all the progresses your child with autism has made over the past year. Let your child with autism hear the praises as you go around the room. Then you will celebrate and not allow yourself to have a “pity party”. Too, our children with autism are listening even when we think they are not and they love to hear “you are the greatest present I could have ever been given.”
Now back to us as caretakers. Christ saw something deep inside of us and said, “I have a special gift to give you.” And so, we were given a child with autism. When Jesus was born in a manager, Mary and Joseph had no idea the impact He would make in this world. He was just a sweet precious baby. When we held our child in our arms, at the time, we never knew the diagnosis of “autism” would later shatter our worlds. In time, though, if you will allow it, you and I will come to realize, “we were given the most special gift” because our child with autism is making an impact on our world in ways we could only dream of….as found in the pages of Marvel in Your Autistic Eyes, Character Lessons from My Son.
Won’t you celebrate this Christmas the gift, your child with autism, designed exclusively for you?