From the traditional American and Canadian customs of Thanksgiving to the upcoming celebrations of Hanukkah and Christmas, one thing remains common this time of year: holiday gatherings. Typically, this is time for people to slow down a little, rejoice in their beliefs, and maybe take the time to appreciate one another.
Unfortunately, as we all know, life doesn’t always go so smoothly. Everyone’s family has a different situation – a challenging story to tell. Some families include doting grandparents and a house full of cousins, for example, while some moms or dads are left to celebrate alone. For many people, the holidays have become just another stressful string of events.
While we may dream of picture-perfect family celebrations where everyone understands and accepts one another, this isn’t always the reality. And for families with loved ones on the spectrum, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can create an added challenge. Between the overabundance of smells, sounds and lights, the moments that we might have intended to be special may instead become overwhelming. It’s easy as a parent to become caught up with what isn’t right, what didn’t work. That’s why it’s important to slow down a little, take your own well-being into account, and say thanks.
We know it may be a struggle after a long day carting children to school, doctor visits and therapy appointments to take a moment to be grateful. It’s tough when your child just had a meltdown and you had to leave your groceries amid stares and go home. Some days you may wonder how you even made it through, falling into bed in utter exhaustion. But there are moments, no matter how small, to be thankful for. Whether it’s for a supportive family member or best friend, the fact your child overcame a challenge or smiled at you that day, no moment of gratitude is too small. There are always reasons to love – and reasons to celebrate.
As I reviewed content for the November issue, I was reminded once again of daily gratitude. Summer Starr Rudisill, a mother of three small children, two of whom are on the spectrum, shared with us her personal thanksgiving for her family. Having twin five-year-old boys with autism presents daily challenges, but Summer and her family are most grateful for the lessons her boys have taught her: to be more patient, kind, and more willing to look at situations with a different perspective. Her boys, she said, are exactly how they were meant to be.
Perhaps this is also a good time to be thankful for our families and friends who have banded together, whether it’s through social media or this magazine, to share their personal ups and downs as well as sage advice. This month, for example, we feature a very tender account called “Meltdowns: When You Fear They Will Hurt Themselves,” written by Jeannie Davide-Rivera, a mom with Asperger syndrome raising three ASD children. We are certain many of you will relate to her story.
We are also delighted to share elementary school teacher Lora Brothers’ advice on how to help your overloaded child in “Top 4 Calm Down Strategies for Overloaded ASD Kids,” an important topic, especially this time of year.
In addition to advice, we also like to share success stories. This month we feature Dr. Maria (Wynne) Gilmour’s account on how she was able to dramatically change a family’s life through the successful use of tele-therapy in “The Remarkable Benefits of Tele-Therapy and Behavior Support: A Case Study.”
We are also grateful to be able to share educational opportunities this month, such as Dr. Michael Levin’s piece on The Verbal Math Series, which spells out the benefits of using verbal math, though a clear, and brilliantly-structured series of books. You and your family may also enjoy Jesse Weinstock’s piece called “Visual Supports for Children on the Autism Spectrum in the Home.” In his article, this passionate teacher explains the benefits of using Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) as visual supports to help children on the spectrum communicate better. Be sure to also check out the article on Jessica Jensen’s new series of life skills learning books called “The Adrian and Super-A” that use pictograms and social stories as a base.
In the spirit of the holiday season, we wish our readers moments of peace to take stock in what is good in our lives and give thanks to those who give us daily strength.
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Amy KD Tobik, Editor-in-Chief
Issue 25 Features
- The Remarkable Benefits of Tele-Therapy and Behavior Support: A Case Study by Maria (Wynne) Gilmour, Ph.D., BCBA-D
- Touch Autism Provides Families with Valuable Resource App by Amy KD Tobik
- Autism – Ordinary or Extraordinary? by Caroline Hearst
- Visual Supports for Children on the Autism Spectrum in the Home by Jesse Weinstock
- An Open Letter of Love and Thanksgiving by Summer Starr Rudisill
- New Series of Life Skills Learning Books: The Adrian and Super-A by Jessica Jensen
- 5 Tips for Preventing Abduction by Sarah Kupferschmidt, MA, BCBA
- Sans Siri Society Program Aims to Connect and Build Friendships
- Suzie Goes to the Hairdresser
- Meltdowns: When You Fear They Will Hurt Themselves by Jeannie Davide-Rivera
- The Verbal Math Series – An Intuitive Approach
- Top 4 Calm Down Strategies for Overloaded ASD Kids by Lora Brothers
- Motivating Children on the Spectrum Once the School Year is Underway by Angelina M., MS BCBA
- Bacon Hot Pot by Autism Food Club