Surviving the Holidays with Aspie/Autie kids

Today I’m a guest on the Children’s Express BlogTalk Radio show.  Below is my notes for the show:

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I found this — http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/special-occasions-and-special-needs-kids/ — Good article, lots of good ideas.

Mainly – in our house – we take the entire holiday season – Thanksgiving through til just after New Years – off from homeschool…. Mostly because it’s such a stress-filled time for me.  We fill the time with games, crafts, and Christmas movies and just relax.

As far as tips::

#1 — Trust your instincts.  You know your kid.  We all have someone related to us who thinks this whole autism thing is a bunch of hooey, and they know just how to fix ur kid.  Ignore it.

#2 – be ready for the meltdown.  The noise, the people, the lights, the music, the smells, maybe even the unfamiliar surroundings….  It’s too much. At some point, your kid will go on overload.  Watch for the signals.  Have a plan in place.  Find a quiet room, or even walk outside, or go for a drive…  have the familiar comfort items nearby.  It maybe a good idea to get a hotel room, instead of staying with relatives in an already crowded house – just so you and your child will have a quiet, clean, clutter-free place to retreat to when things & people get too overwhelming.

#3 – if you are traveling a long way, have a small gift – like a book or toy – ready, and give it to your kids around the halfway point.  It will help keep them occupied, and keep you sane.

#4 – if you are flying, don’t forget to pack the Dramamine or Tylenol.  I found that one out the hard way.

#5 – always do your best to prepare your kiddo’s for what’s coming.  Let them know ahead of time the when, where, and how of the up coming visit.

#6 — If you have a Cheek-pincher in the family, prepare the kids for that.  But be ready to intervene when your kid meets the Cheek-pinchers.  Be up front with MeeMaw, and tell her not to touch your kid’s face/hug/etc, that he doesn’t like it.

#7 – Celebrate the holidays at your own pace, in your own time.  One year at a FLY Fest (a Flylady convention) Kelly, Flylady’s right hand woman said, “Its not about that one day. Celebrate with your family whenever you get the chance.” That stuck with me.  We’ve had times in the past when we lived closer to extended family and were expected to be there for holidays.  So we held our own holiday on a different day, IE: Christmas.  With all the gift-opening & new things…  it was too overwhelming to have the kids rush through our tree, leave all their new goodies to go do it all over again at Gramma’s house.  So we began treating Christmas Eve as “Christmas” in our house, with the opening gifts, and the big dinner, and the fun.  Then we went to Gramma’s house Christmas day.  Result = less meltdowns due to overstimulation.

#8 – Don’t rush your kid through “Present time!”  —  this took us years to understand.  Let them open a gift. If they want to take it out of whatever packaging and play for a while before opening the next one… let them.  Give them time to process things and enjoy the gifts and the day.  There is no hard and fast rule that all gifts must be open by a certain time.  Don’t push.

#9 – Try to remove as much of the pesky packaging as possible before wrapping the gifts…  and have wire cutters & scissors on hand Christmas morning.  This will save you a world of time trying to untwist all those wires holding the toys to the box, and the tape and whatnot holding items & tags to the gifts.  Remember – the key is to make this as stress-LESS as possible for YOU and your child.  The faster you can get those toys/goodies out, the better.

#10 – In our house, we leave the stockings at the foot of our sleeping children’s beds.  They are free to wake up and rip into their stockings (usually filled with some trinkets, candy, scotch tape, etc.) and play whenever they like.  But they aren’t allowed out or to wake up mom and dad before 7am.  The stockings give the excited kids something to do with that pent up excitement, and the 7am rule allows mom and dad to get some sleep after a late night of last minute wrapping.

#11 – I got this idea from Dana Loesch, back when she used to have a mom-blog called Mamalogues. We give each of our kids 3 gifts.  Because that’s what Jesus got, & if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for my kid.  J  Combined with each kid giving the other’s a gift, that’s 5 gifts for each of them…  throw in whatever Gramma and the rest of the extended family give them… and it’s a decent Christmas without being over the top.

That’s pretty much it.  Remember, h8rs gonna h8. Don’t worry about the negativity of others.  And above all —- Trust your instincts!!