It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go…
The excitement has begun. From crowded stores with festive music and lights to jam-packed streets, the very preparation for the holidays can be overwhelming. If you can find a way to prevent it all from becoming too demanding for your family, there can be a real sense of seasonal peace.
As a parent, it can be challenging to find that balance between trying to make everyone happy while living up to the often unrealistic expectations we tend to have for the holidays. Sometimes it all goes smoothly – and as we all know, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s why it’s vital to step back, early in the season, and decide how you are going to approach the stress – how you are going to handle the strain. As parents, we tend to set the mood, so it’s especially important to keep our behaviors in check as best we can.
I say this because, as Editor-in-Chief of Autism Parenting Magazine, I have sensed an unusual amount of hostility on the Internet recently. I am part of several social media groups centered on autism as I like to keep up-to-date on the challenges families face so we can offer the best advice in our magazine. It’s rewarding, too, to watch people who have never met share their wisdom, and if needed, offer emotional support. These sites typically create camaraderie within the autism community – they provide a sense of belonging.
Recently, however, I have sensed a lot of antagonism on several of these sites. Strangers have been quick to judge and criticize when someone desperate asks for advice. A single mom reaches out, for example, because she lost her job and is at her breaking point. Or a family has been (unlawfully) kicked out of their apartment because their child on the spectrum was deemed somehow “disruptive.” While some people offer kind advice, provide phone numbers for therapy and attorneys who might work pro bono, there has been an unusually high number of responders who instead chose to criticize and shame. And I wonder, is this necessary? It’s not what a support group is all about.
As we planned stories for our holiday issue, I couldn’t stop thinking about the importance of working together as one big family toward peace, cohesion and spreading autism awareness. We need to be there for one another, even when the chips are down and life seems most demanding.
That’s why I am especially delighted with our selection of articles for December. We are thrilled to include Dawn Potter’s piece, for example, called, “5 Tips for Helping the Entire Family Relax During the Holidays.” In her article, Dawn shares excellent advice for families to create a calmer atmosphere through setting parameters and scheduling much-needed downtime. Lisa Timms also offers some excellent advice for families in her article, “Is This the Right Time?” by providing some ideas for working with your child to find a balance and maintain patience throughout the season.
We are happy to share the expertise of Sophie Durocher-Noel, an occupational therapist (OT), who has provided an informative article called, “The Remarkable Results of Qigong Massage.” Sophie has achieved dramatic success as an OT using a set of 12 movements based on traditional Chinese medicine to improve the overall blood and energy circulation of children on the spectrum. We also have included the positive testimonial by Suzanne Blanchard, a mother of a five-year-old who has made great strides after participating in this type of massage.
Heading to the mall or toy store during the height of the season can be stressful, so we have included some excellent ideas for choosing appropriate gifts for an autistic child. Music therapist John Mews has provided us with an extensive list of ideal toys in his article, “Giving the Gift of Music – Top 10 Therapeutically-Beneficial Musical Toys.” Each one is colorful and inspirational – bound to bring some holiday fun.
In addition to giving gifts, it’s also important to spend quality time at home with the family during the holidays. That’s why we are thrilled to share the article, “Making Memories – Family-Friendly Craft Ideas,” composed by two teachers, Tracy Oxley and Debra Henken-Strigaro. The three special holiday projects featured not only utilize fine motor skills, sequencing, social interaction, communication skills and creativity, they potentially can help bring families closer together during the season.
For those of you traveling with a child on the spectrum this season, Jessica Campbell has provided some excellent tips in “Airports and Travelling – A Dozen Things to Remember.”
And finally, in celebration of the end of 2014, we have put together a list of highlights that brought some much-needed positivity and autism awareness during the year in “12 Joyful Moments from 2014 – A Year in Review.” From small-town news to international news – positive stories always spark hope.
Wishing our readers a joyful holiday season and peace in the New Year.
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Amy KD Tobik
Issue 26 Features
- Airports and Travelling – A Dozen Things to Remember by Jessica Campbell
- Anova, Empowering Children – Supporting Families – Strengthening Communities by Debi Taylor
Fighting for Autism by Amy KD Tobik
- Making Memories – Family-Friendly Craft Ideas by Tracy Oxley and Debra Henken-Strigaro
- 5 Tips for Helping the Entire Family Relax During the Holidays by Dawn Potter
- Giving the Gift of Music – Top 10 Therapeutically-Beneficial Musical Toys by John Mews, BMT, MA, MFTI
- 12 Joyful Moments of 2014 – A Year in Review by Amy KD Tobik
- Is This the Right Time? by Lisa Timms, MS Special Education
- The Remarkable Results of Qigong Massage by Sophie Durocher-Noel, OT
- Keeping Your Child Safe: Teaching Street Crossing by Alexandra J. Rogers, Ph.D. Anaheim Hills Psychological Services
- Independence for Employment Using Reference and Technology by Chantal M. Charron M.A. CCC-SLP, Jane Burke M.A. Special Education and Bob Steinkamp Ed.S Special Education
- New Victory Theater presents Autism-Friendly Theater
- Help: My Child Came Home with Bite Marks by Angelina M., MS BCBA
- Maintaining a Good Balance on a Gluten- and Casein-Free Diet by Elouise Robinson, Autism Food Club