What we won’t be doing for Christmas

reposted and UPDATED from a previous blog site:

December 4th 

I was reading some past blogs of other moms with autistic children and they referred to their past experiences as a very autistic Thanksgiving and a very autistic Christmas.  It got me thinking what all that entails.

You see I love the holidays.  I love to decorate, hang lights, put up my numerous holiday bears including the Dated Snowflake/Keepsake Teddies from WalMart and the kiss kiss bears from CVS, bake pumpkin bread, blast Christmas carols, watch Christmas movies (ad nauseum), think about snow, get holiday family portraits, have big family gatherings, etc etc. I LOVE it ALL. 

But J doesn’t.  All of that departs from the normal routine and it sends him spinning out of control.  Oh he may give the appearance of enjoying something like all the Christmas lights but then we must go for crazy walks to see them all.  And he enjoys the cartoon Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but to the exclusion of all else.  Pumpkin bread is great for him but it moves his bowels a little fast.  Pretty much everything else causes major crisis meltdowns.  He will probably spend a good portion of Christmas day either isolated in his room at my parents house (by choice), in time out for lashing out against his cousins, or crying.  That I can’t really avoid except to help him regulate himself (in the presence of 14+ people).  We are going to have to talk about it A LOT.  Luckily I know he will be getting some of his most wished for items from Santa/Grandma and these might keep his attention for a good portion of the day.

But here are some other things we won’t be doing that ideally I’d love to do.

Spend lots of time at the Starry Snowy southwest night where they brought 50 tons of snow to the base and that included tons of people.  We stayed long enough to look at the snow covered in kids, watch the tree get lit, and grab a cookie.  Little J touched the snow, J cried because it looked too icy.  And then he cried because after refusing to enter the snow area for kids under 5 he wanted to climb up the hill for kids over 48″

We also will not be going to the breakfast with Santa provided FREE by the base.  It is hard enough to eat at a Table with the two munchkins, even harder out of the house, throw in a room full of noisy children and you are mixing a recipe for disaster.  And what would be the point?  Although we “believe in Santa” it is a vague concept in this house.  To try and introduce the kids, who would inevitably have to wait in an insufferable line, to a stranger in a big suit in beard would definitely be asking for the grumpies at best and uncontrollable crying at worst.

Along the same lines, we will not be visiting Santa at the mall.  Granted I never did this as a kid, but I always dreamed of taking my own kids.  (side note, Santa usually came to the PTA/Christmas production in elementary school)

My biggest dilemma is that Little J may possibly enjoy some of these activities, minus the lines, but I would feel guilty if I had pics of him with Santa and none of J.  It wouldn’t matter now, but years from now….well I just don’t want to have to tell him “Sorry honey, mommy just couldn’t deal with the anticipation of a meltdown.”

I know that this is not the end of the world for my kids not to see Santa and get their picture taken.  And really they have no idea that they are missing anything.  But I feel like I as a parent am missing out.  I WANT TO GO SEE SANTA! (with my kids)

We are still going to try for a cute Christmas Family photo, but if J is wearing his lion t-shirt and worn out sandals, it is not my fault.  (As long as no one is crying, we consider it a good picture)  I tried to get him to wear closed toe shoes tonight for seeing the snow, it was an all out battle.  Then we went to buy him new sneakers and he wouldn’t try any on. AND THEN I tried to talk him into a pseudo sandal that had a closed toe and he insisted that his are just fine.  Well I guess if my motto is “I’m wearing sandals as long as there is no snow on the ground.” then he can wear sandals all year long in AZ (I just wish he’d wear some new ones that aren’t falling apart)  If I ever get him to wear a new shoe I am going to buy 2 of every size for the next 4 sizes.  then he can be obsessed with them for as long as he wants.  P.S. he’s been obsessed with the same pair of underwear for over a month now, and buying extras didn’t help because one pair is already worn out. I can count on one hand the number of times he has worn a different pair of underwear (and never the look alikes) always with a fight.  But he’d rather wear nothing or a pull-up than to have to change.  Lots of hand washings and wasting of electricity in the dryer.  Seriously!

So a very Merry *cough* Autistic Christmas to us

ADDED December 20th,  Santa came to class today at J’s school and they said it did not go well.  He stayed as far away as he could get and was withdrawn for the rest of class.  I guess I made the right call.

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9 comments on “What we won’t be doing for Christmas

  1. I dropped by today after following your link home from Michele’s. Reading your words, I’m struck by how amazingly strong you are for having a strategy for every aspect of your son’s life. It’s inspiring to see a parent with such backbone and resolve. I know most others – including me – pale in comparison.

  2. i think parents of special needs children are saints. my BFF that i have known since i was 6 has a younger sister that has CP and i just don’t know how their mother does it every day. it is hard work to take care of any child but one with special needs requires extra patience.

    michele sent me over to say hi.

  3. We visited Santa last night, same one we’ve seen for years. If you saw the photo, you’d laugh and I wouldn’t be offended. Three kids, smiling and looking at the camera. Fourth child, big frown, droopy head, looking at the camera from an angle, leaning on Santa. Deliberate on his part! He said he refused to smile. $30 later and I get that 😉 Years from now, we’ll laugh and think how much it exemplifies him!

  4. I didn’t look back long enough to know if she hit him or drank the wine… It happened 18 years ago. At the time I knew that moving on was the right thing. I still do. It’s just weird because he’s been in my thoughts a lot – I wonder how he is, what his life is like now. However, I don’t want to contact him – even though I could.

    Good job Mom – autism is tough on families. You’re strong and in tune with your child. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Your son will do anything you prepare him to do – and there is so much he can do – with you as his strongest ally. (I used to support people with disabilities – inlcuding autism – to live in their own homes. check out http://www.supportedliving.com/)

  5. Oh, hey, you visited me and here I am right back at you from Michele’s! (Hello from her and hello from me!)

    What a terrific mum you are. Special need parents I admire. Especially after becoming a mother myself and knowing how hard a job it is with a child without special needs…

  6. Pingback: What Christmas is like this year. « Grace Under Autism

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