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It is that time of year again, the time of year parents of special needs children just dread: Christmas vacation.  Our son normally goes to school all year round, so this two week break will wreak havoc on schedules and routine; thus, creating tantrums, melt downs and all out chaos.  

 As we bid a tearful adieu to the short bus, let's all take a deep breath and know we are in this together so let's share some holiday songs, stories and ways to cope.  Pour yourself some eggnog or gluhwein and relax, there are only 14 more days until they are back in school.  

There Goes Routine
(sung to the tune of "Here Comes Santa Claus")
There goes routine,
There goes comfort,
There goes therapy.
Here comes boredom,
Here comes whining,
There goes sanity!
School break's here
And I should cheer
The time to spend with my kids.
But though I bless
Togetherness
I feel like I'm losing my wits.
But here comes New Year's.
Here comes three cheers,
Here comes tears of joy.
Get the backpacks,
Meet the buses,
Goodbye, girls and boys!
Though it means
More homework scenes
And teacher battles and such.
Ending Christmas break
Can make me
Love that school so much!

Years ago, we wanted the holidays to be ideal for everyone in our family, but things didn't work so well.  Our son is hypersensitive to noise and has difficulties in new situations.  Autism and crowds don't go together well.  Sometimes, it is better to stick with the familiar than it is to venture into unknown territory.

On Sunday, I ran into a mom with her three autistic sons at the grocery store.  She already looked spent after only a weekend.  As I shopped, I could hear her boys from several aisles away, it was like having triplet toddlers but bigger and louder in every respect.  If you are a family member of friend of someone caring for special needs, the best gift you could ever offer is respite help.  Just give them a few hours  to go to the store or go out on a date with their spouse and have some free time.  This is the most appreciated and sought after gift anyone would want.  Keep the child in their home and watch him carefully.  Try to engage and interact with the child, if you can. The smallest things, such as: eye contact, a smile, a wave, holding your hand are all milestones in dealing with autism.  You will impact many lives by this generous gift.  

If someone in your family has autism, I'm sure these Holiday songs hit home.  From sarnet.org

We Won't Go
(sung to the tune of "Let It Snow")
Oh, your party sure sounds delightful,
But our child's behavior's frightful,
And since we'll just bring you woe,
We won't go, we won't go, we won't go.
Well, the tantrums he won't be stopping,
And we'll chase him 'til we're dropping,
He just can't stand the stress, and so
We won't go, we won't go, we won't go.
If we actually made it there,
After miles of yelling and gripes,
We would suffer your guests' cruel stares
And overhear all of their snipes.
Oh, they'd whisper that we're bad parents,
And our child is quite aberrant,
'Til our spirits were sunk, and so
We won't go, we won't go, we won't go.
Trouble on the Rooftop
(sung to the tune of "Up on the Rooftop")
Up on the rooftop, what's that then?
Our child has escaped again.
Out through the window, down the spout
How does that little one get out?
Uh uh oh!
Look at him go!
Uh uh oh!
Look at her go!
Oh, out through the back door
Quick as can be,
Off down the sidewalk
So merrily.
Wanders around the neighborhood --
This escaping's just no good.
Wanders the highway, goes to town.
Call the police to hunt him down.
Uh uh oh!
Go on home!
Uh uh oh!
Don't ever roam!
Don't sneak up the chimney
Or through the dog door
Stay in your room
Forever more.

 

Echolalia Bells
(sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells")
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the time.
Sing it in the morning,
Sing it in bed,
Sing it at suppertime.
Oh, jingle bells, I hear those bells
Constantly, it seems,
Every waking moment now
And even in my dreams.
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Endlessly, that thing!
Jingle bells, I've got to yell,
Is it all this child can sing?
Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle jingle JING!
Oh what pain is in my brain
From this endless jingling!

  Our son with his Occupational Therapist.  Reindeer games are fun and bring out interaction.  

Happy Holidays Everyone.  Please share your stories and photos.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  All I want for Christmas (15+ / 0-)
    All I Want for Christmas Is a Good Night's Sleep
    (sung to the tune of "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth")
    All I want for Christmas is a good night's sleep,
    A good night's sleep, a good night's sleep.
    If I ever got to have a good night's sleep
    Then I could stay awake for Christmas.
    All I want for Christmas is my bed to myself
    Without this intruding little elf.
    If everyone could stay in their bed by themselves
    Then I could sleep right straight through Christmas.
    All I want for Christmas is no "Mommy, please!"
    "Daddy, come here!" Oh, make it cease.
    If I could maybe finally have a little peace
    Then I could remember which day's Christmas.
     

  •  Tell me about it. My house already looks like (5+ / 0-)

    somebody turned it upside down and shook it. My severely autistic daughter, however, might have a hard time understanding and coping with many things...but she understands all about Christmas. So the Christmas tree can never be turned off, since she loves it so much. And I keep having to rotate my hiding spots for Christmas gifts-she knows what those are, and if she finds them, it game over!  For now, I have some empty boxes that I stuffed with junk and wrapped up to use as a decoy.

    She will probably be okay when we do our Christmas party, though--as long as you keep doling out goodies throughout the day. Her routine is completely shot already--as long as we can survive without a meltdown, we should be alright.

  •  Happy Holidays (6+ / 0-)

    We're lucky, my son's school is only closed for a week and a couple of days (they close random days during the year), but its still very stressful, especially finding day care for a special needs 12 year old since he's aged out of most "typical" after schools and vacation school programs and the special needs geared ones are hard to come by, at least were i am.

    Solvent Green is Grandma

    by mad cow on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 06:07:32 AM PST

  •  Our son is 15 and (6+ / 0-)

    has, thankfully, grown through many of the problems Christmas/birthday/spring break used to bring.  He's on the high functioning end of the spectrum.

    But when he was little -- oh boy.

    We found that having an advent/Christmas countdown calendar helped a lot -- he had something to determined exactly how many more days it was.

    We also made sure we had lots of little diversions for him so not everything was focused on one single day.

    And we used the opportunities to stretch his tolerance for new things.  For example, if we took him to a party, it was with the understanding that he would let us know when it was time to leave.  Just knowing that we weren't going to push him way past his tolerance would increase his tolerance.  After a couple of successes, we'd push his tolerance a little bit, staying for 5 minutes longer, then ten.

    Last night we went to the next door neighbor's party.  Our son was the only teenager there -- he enjoyed himself, ate a lot (and tried several new foods), interacted with the people there, and stayed longer than I did!

    A little tender courage at that rare right instant, and things might well have turned out differently -- Ken Kesey

    by Frankenoid on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 07:16:55 AM PST

  •  We are no longer welcome at his g-aunt's place (4+ / 0-)

    on Christmas Eve.  My family is in different states, so the big event has alway been Christmas Eve at Aunt Diane's house.  That's where the extended family and friends get together to celebrate the season.  After a small incident year before last, Aunt Diane let my ex know that our boy need not come the next time.  So, we didn't go.  It was OK.  His mom is always high-strung during the holidays, and I prefer to spend as little time around her as possible at those times.  This year, his mom doesn't even want him to come in when we pick her up.

    So, we will spend Christmas Eve day with my sister, who is coming down for the day from NYC.  We'll pick his mom up after their party, and go to her place to open presents.  Then Christmas Day will be a typical Sunday; just him and me.  Unless my secret Santa shows up.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 10:05:38 AM PST

    •  That's just sad (6+ / 0-)

      some people are clueless and heartless when it comes to autism.  We all know about disapproving faces from relatives, but gosh they need to put themselves in the child's place.  

      Now that I've said that, I need to admit we stay by ourselves for Christmas rather than get with family.  My family gets way off schedule and parties, dinner might not start until 9pm, not good for kids- autism or not.  His family has a home like a museum and no other grandchildren, so it is always high alert and no relaxation. It is better to have calm than chaos.  

      Enjoy the holidays with your son.  That is what it is all about, not the relatives.  

  •  So... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, ladybug53

    all our gingerbread men have their heads bit off. I kinda expected something of the sort when I heard that little tigger like laugh at 3 am last night and him repeatedly saying, "run, run as fast as you can..." I'm not going to get excited about it. It's not like we need to present them to the queen.
     We stopped getting invited to some places a while back, we figure that's for the best. If they don't want him we sure don't want to be there.
     I just bought a few new packs of polymer clay and let him go to town with it. I'm lucky that he's got a brother 16 months older who relentlessly pursues playing with him.
     The tree is fake and the balls are all plastic and I have to keep putting them back on. He's gotten through the packing tape I need a box cutter to defeat on one package, but I managed to catch him before he got any further. He was ticked.
      I would love a little respite, but I'll muddle through, regardless. It only rolls around once a year.

    Happy Holidays Everybody~

    I shave my legs with Occam's razor.

    by triv33 on Tue Dec 20, 2011 at 03:54:21 PM PST

    •  Happy Holidays, trvi33 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53

      Your story is familiar to all of us :  

      We stopped getting invited to some places a while back, we figure that's for the best. If they don't want him we sure don't want to be there.

      We've all been there.  It is just so hurtful and hypocritical of families to talk about Christmas; yet, only want normal, obedient children.  We got over it too, rather not have or child exposed to all that.

      One thing great about autism is you have your child and he will love you forever.  He is always honest, there are no fakes.

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