Although I published the following three posts back in November – the state of anxiety for those of us with children on the spectrum (or anything else ‘special’) is beginning to rise – I’m re-publishing those posts with a few additions because the posts are THAT important.
If you don’t read any other posts for the rest of the year, read these three – and send to everyone you know. These entries aren’t just for people who have autism in their lives – it’s for folks who have anything special – diabetes, cerebral palsy, ADD, ADHD, Down Syndrome…anything.
Today – why it’s important to give holidays special consideration to ALL.
Tomorrow – what parents can do to prepare
Saturday – what hosts/hostesses can do to help
Well…the time has arrived.
A time that brings SO much happiness and joy to SO many.
A time that brings SO much worry and anxiety to SO many.
Not until I had Tucker did I realize that the holidays are a difficult time for many, many people. This was a REALLY difficult realization for me. I love the holidays – everything about them. I love the people, my cousins, the food, the music, the lights, the colors, the trees, the shopping, the music – now, not quite as much.
Why? Because every gathering is a challenge. Every gathering means I need to plan, to think, to advocate, to play future teller…and honestly, it can be exhausting and overwhelming.
Over the course of the next four days I will write about ways to help our children (and adults) who are on the spectrum ‘deal’ with the chaos of the holidays. So what is it about the holidays that is so difficult for our children on the spectrum? While there can be MANY issues, today I will only comment on one thing. Tomorrow and Wednesday I will provide strategies for families hosting the holiday gathering(s) and families who have a child on the spectrum.
In my advice giving about the holidays, I have found that many people (regardless of ‘spectrum status’) employ many of these strategies to make the holidays easier for children.
Today’s post is relatively short…simply because this isn’t humorous, it’s not about writing a ‘story’ or being witty- it isn’t about making the spectrum business easier or better.
It’s simple. Too many people at our holiday gathering don’t understand our children. They truly think our child is being obnoxious and therefore, think they have all the answers about how to ‘rear’ children correctly…
We allow too much.
We aren’t harsh enough.
We makes excuses for their behavior.
We simply need to be better parents.
Well, here is what we know – we know autism diagnoses is on the rise. On Mach 27, 2014 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data on the prevalence of autism in the United State. This study identified 1 in 68 children as having autism spectrum disorder. This equates to 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
Autism, in its current form, is relatively new…
So advocating for understanding can be (or IS) like banging your head against a wall or paddling upstream or choose any other idiom.
To these folks…here is what I have to say. I must warn you – these are not tempered words.
You have not raised my child. You have not been black and blue from holding him down for a nap. You have not felt the sting of the looks. You have not sat through testing. You have not laughed and cried and been partially insane in the way I have. You have not worried and prayed about the future in the way I have. All of us have different stories – so please, don’t judge mine. I don’t judge yours.
You have not raised my child. If you have raised a child on the spectrum, you immediately understand. If you have taught a child on the spectrum, you moderately understand. If you have strong empathy and have heard stories about a child on the spectrum, you will get it. Please have patience…please try to understand how incredibly difficult this day is for him. If you cannot, then just ignore him. Ignore me. That is fine – but please don’t try to give me advice…because you really do not understand…and by giving me your ‘tried and true methods of child-rearing’ you are showing me that you don’t really even care to TRY to understand.
If you want to TRY to understand…read the next two days.