Issue 13 – Surviving the Holidays
- Navigating the Holidays by Jeannie Davide-Rivera
- Christmas is Coming by Renee Salas
- Interview with Candice Chaktoura of Signing Autistic Lives by Leslie Burby
- 5 Helpful Tips to Make Your Child’s I.E.P Meeting More Tolerable Than Terrifying by John Mews
- Autism in the News: FAA Allowing PEDs on airplanes by Megan Kelly
- Mallory’s Marvelous Muffins by Leslie A. Burby
- The Nod by Kimberlee McCafferty
- Book in the Spotlight: Grace Figures Out School by Leslie A. Burby
- Q&A Section by Leslie A. Burby
- Sensory Fun using Cotton balls by Leslie A. Burby
- Seek-N-Find by McNall Mason
- Letting Go of Your Expectations This Holiday Season by Jaclyn Hunt
‘ Tis the season to be jolly! However it also the season where anxiety runs high and people get overwhelmed. For this reason two of our holiday articles are written by mothers with autism giving us an inside understanding of things. This time of year a frequent complaint I hear from adults is how unthankful children are when receiving gifts. So I encourage parents to teach their children what to say and how to act when receiving a gift (even gifts they don’t want or like). Personally, I used to role play with my daughters. We would make it a game and put a small item in a gift box and give it to each other and make these happy, over animated expressions all the while saying things like, “Oh, thank you!” or “It’s just what I wanted!” Before Christmas parties we remind the children to always say thank you even if it isn’t what they wanted, which I know is extremely difficult for children. However, I can’t help but educate my entire Neuro-Typical family, when on occasion my children will open a gift and blankly stare at it. It reminds me of how desperately some NT’s try to “change” the behaviors of children on the spectrum, and while I fully support changing self-injurious behaviors (safety of a child is always first), I also encourage people to “change” (or at least curb) their behaviors when coming to ASD children. I know that seems like a long shot at times, but by explaining to Aunt Jo or Grandma Pat that just because little Suzie didn’t give the reaction they anticipated, doesn’t mean that she is ungrateful. I explain that sometimes it takes her longer to process, and that she is working on accepting things that are different than what she is expecting; whether it be what she presumes she will see when getting off the school bus or what she sees when she opens a gift – change is difficult for most people but especially for those with autism.
As for me, I don’t need any gifts this holiday season. I have had an amazing year and been reunited with people I hold very dear that are listening when I tell them there is more behind the word autism and that they should take the time to learn about it. I feel like I am finally where I belong, sharing my information with people that want it. Now my husband and I have a new extended-family called the autism community, which has welcomed us with open arms and has taught us more than we ever thought possible. I’ve learned that my stubbornness has its advantages because it made me find a way to communicate with my son which I talk about in the interview with Candice Chaktoura the creator of Signing Autistic Lives later in this issue. I am thankful for my daughter with Asperger’s because she has taught me so much and continues to do so.
For my middle child, (my neurotypical), her loving bubbly, forgiving personality has forced her siblings to learn a different perspective but she has also learned their view and has no qualms telling the world or sticking up for them. I am so proud of all my children. I don’t see disabled children and non-disabled children when I look at my children. I see children. My children are loving, sweet, bundles of energy that are often misunderstood but will always be loved for who they are in my household and I am ready to continue to fight to have them accepted for who they are when they walk out my front door.
I encourage you all to not get lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations and if and when you do to take some deep breathes and remember that the holidays aren’t about gifts it is about so much more. I would like to say, “Thank you to all the readers, writers, contributors and workers of Autism Parenting Magazine! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!”
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Leslie A. Burby