Its the Holidays. I get it. We all do. Its been quite evident since the beginning of September that the Holiday season is going to be upon us.
In the world of Autism, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season means something all together different. The noise of it all can be overwhelming to our sensory sensitive children. While we shuffle about trying to get our presents wrapped and shipped off or our holiday parties planned. I often wondered how our little ones get through the chaos of it all.
For me I find it hard when you have a child that doesn't understand the concept. No fault on them. Just that Santa Claus and all of his elves are foreign. Or that the lighting of the Menorah is too much for them. In this world that is so critical of others its hard to maintain a level of cheer this holiday season.
We have a love/hate relationship with Christmas in this house. I love everything to do with Christmas. But my ASD kids don't. My daughter hates everything to with Santa. The even thought of him will spark a meltdown. . Its not the crowds or the noise that bothers her, but just the very thought of him. Pictures, ornaments, you name it we can't have in our house.We don't even do the Elf on the Shelf, as the thought of an elf that spies for Santa also sparks an autistic "Hell No" To her and maybe the Church Lady from SNL he very well could be the devil himself. But that isn't the sad part. Its the reaction from people who see the panic in her eyes or the fear they hear in her voice when she says " No Mommy, No Santa.." We get the " Oh what a silly thing to be afraid of.. " or " No one can be afraid of Santa Claus..." Its like everything else when it comes to publicly parenting your children. The looks and the comments.
And with my youngest son, the lights and sounds of the holiday are an overload. You can't walk into a store or a mall without lights blinking on and off rapidly or the Xmas music blaring at decibels that would wake the dead. People wonder why he vibrates out of his stroller or carts. Or why he chews on his wrist like a cannibal. Its called over stimulation. And 85% of people will not know what its like to live in a world where your senses are magnified. Holidays are hard enough at times to get through, the added scrutiny certainly doesn't help.
So this is what I ask this holiday season. Its a simple request. I wish people would be more accepting. I know that more malls out there are doing Sensory Safe Santa. Which I think is fabulous. But for those children that Santa is really not their thing, don't sit there and question it. Don't make the child feel guilty because they have no desire to talk to the Jolly Old Guy. Its not their fault. Its just who they are. Make them feel that its ok not want to participate. Holidays should be celebrated without the added pressure. It should be about love, support and acceptance. So the next time you see a child that is scared of something, ask yourself...
How you feel if you were in a room by yourself with the one thing that terrifies you?