Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy Holidays

Yo, Mick here. Yup, I'm the canine with a candy-cane scarf.

Mum's learned a lot about the challenges autism brings to the holidays.

No matter your celebration (there seems to be at lest one for everyone and more for others) the disruption to the routines, different foods, people interacting and expecting to be interacted with (especially the expectations) whew! the whole tamale can be a real stress without adding in the autism factor.

How exactly does a family factor autism into a happy holiday?

Plan for it of course!

This was the subject of a recent autism support group meeting that Mum went to.

There were all types of suggestions and confessions from families. (They laugh a lot at those meetings and Mum always comes in renewed but that's a different story - check out a meeting sometime if you get the chance, discovering other families and hearing other autism stories really renews the spirit).

Here's what Mum got out of the meeting:

The real success or distress of the holiday season seems to come down to the expectations of everyone involved.

What do you expect the holidays to be?

Remember, if you're looking for trouble its already upon you. If you're stressed out - those wonders on the autism spectrum have a way of picking up on that and returning it ten fold (at the least)!

Be the canine of peace!

According to Mum, those families who have altered their celebration style so that it embraces their child's autism do more than cope during the holidays, they have found ways to enjoy them.

En-Joy! get it? Flow into Joy!

They have created Happy Holidays!

What does that mean?

They have modified their expectations without compromising their beliefs in family and Love.

Here’re some tips to get you thinking about your family dynamics:

* Don't try to do everything; instead, pick and choose the activities based upon your past experiences or "gut" feelings -
Doing less creates more for all

* Do not attempt to take your daughter with autism to her sister's choir performance if she can not handle the sound of a group singing, sitting on bleachers or other environmental factors or if choirs just freak her out

* Do not force your son with autism to wear the clothes Grandmother brought for him if he truly can't stand the fiber they're made from

* Now is not the time to begin one of those diets that restrict sugar or flour if you are planning to to go to 9 parties this season (have a plan if you are already on one of those diets if you do go to holiday parties and don't expect the host or hostess to know or meet your needs!)

* Do practice manners and personal hygiene - as a family

* Do what makes you feel good about your family – celebrate with joy!

* Do give yourself permission to pick and choose your family's activities - without any guilt

* Do keep your expectations realistic and fun for everyone - remember its a Happy Holiday!

I don't know why but the humans can really let their expectations muck up an otherwise fun event or season – be Joyful, be fun, be Happy, be about the Love of the season.

Staying home and baking doggy biscuits (or cookies) with the whole family works for a very happy holiday memory!

Peace on and blessings for a safe and Happy Holiday Season.

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