Are the holidays something you dread? Maybe it’s too many people, high expectation placed upon you or even worse low expectations? You’re not alone.
I can tell you that I approach holidays from a very different place now that I know better. What do I mean by know better? I mean listening to my own body and being honest about the capacity I have for celebrations, as well as listening to my twins Lillian & Chloe.
Before I understood what Asperger’s/Autism was, I took my daughters behavior personally. I thought Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma & Grandpa’s was a direct defiant behavior. When she had a meltdown at the dinner, I thought she was trying to make the day about her and get her way to make us go home. I was wrong!
Lillian’s refusal to go to Thanksgiving dinner was because she knew she would be in a good amount of discomfort. She may not have realized why but she knew it would happen and when it did, she just needed to leave. The noise of everyone socializing, the smells of all the food, and the expectation that she needed to participate in these conversations was too much. So yes, she screamed to make it stop and for me to take her to a safe place. I did not hear or see this at the time and for that I have apologized profusely.
Today we talk about the events that are coming up and build a strategy to make it possible for Lillian and Chloe to be there. I am now okay if being there is not an option.
Each event is different some examples of what we plan for could be a clear exit strategy. Whether this means I or my husband leaves with them or now that they are old enough to Uber home themselves. We see if there might be a quiet room where they could just chill for a little while if they start to have too much stimuli. We have found sometimes when they just remove themselves from the chaos for a little while they are able to return for a bit more time.
Just knowing that there is a plan and that I will listen to Lillian & Chloe has made a world of difference.
Lillian & Chloe were not trying to make the holidays about themselves, in fact it is most likely the opposite. They did not want to bring attention to the difficult time they were having.
As parents we need to listen to our children. They are telling you what they need even when they don’t have the words.
Written by Gail Carrier, Founder of OurTism