Autism and Christmas Things to be Grateful For

by Marita on November 17, 2011

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This time of year is so hard for us, I’m sure many folk with ASD are struggling also (please don’t say it is just us). The seasons have changed, the weather is getting much warmer (making it harder to sleep at night), daylight savings has messed around our body clocks, spring and high pollen counts play havoc with sinuses and EVERYWHERE is Christmas – decorations, music, talk, advertising, just so much Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and so do my girls, but the excitement can get very overwhelming, especially when your senses all go into hyper alert mode due to overstimulation.

I’ve been picking Heidi up early from school because she is already just not coping and remembering my pregnancy with her, where from about mid November she would just stop moving and I spent hours in the hospital hooked up to monitors to check her heartbeat. In the quiet calm of the hospital room where I sat alone with toddler Annie in her stroller, the movements would start up again, much to everyones relief. Foreshadowing perhaps our ongoing issues with the silly season.

But there is so much to be grateful for:

  • Those times when Heidi stopped moving in the womb, it was just her reaction to the overstimulation outside and not something more serious.
  • That Heidi no longer tries to eat the Christmas tree lights and we were able to get them up on the tree again last year after several years of no lights.
  • Online shopping means I can do the vast majority of my Christmas shopping and my grocery shopping without having to expose the girls or myself to the craziness that is shops in full seasonal swing.
  • Seriously Coles Online and Aussie Farmers Direct save my sanity at this time of year.
  • We have a teacher who understands the need for shorter days, other factors that are contributing to Heidi’s anxiety are being dealt with and my concerns have been heard.
  • Friends who offer to help, bless each and every one of the amazing people who have stepped forward to pick up the pieces as the girls and then me start to fall apart.
  • Heidi can communicate more of what is worrying her, what she needs and even sometimes that she is getting overwhelmed and needs to leave.
  • That after years of being ASD parents we are learning to read the signs better, know the early warning signals and the meltdown triggers.

Too Loud!

So much to be thankful for when you just stop to look at it.

Head on over to Kate’s to see who else is joining in Thankful Thursday.

{ 25 comments }

Stranger Than Fiction aka Yeran November 17, 2011 at 6:46 am

That’s important stuff to be grateful for :-) especially knowing the triggers… that can make a world of difference in your day, week even. And hallelujah for online shopping woo!!!!!

Marita November 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Knowing the triggers have indeed made a world of difference.

Carly @ My Life in Colour November 17, 2011 at 7:43 am

Haha this is only our third Christmas with little people and we won’t be having a tree again this year for the same reasons…. It’s a decorations buffet that will be chewed and eaten! We are already finding the shops a bit hectic too – lucky I love internet shopping! We’re still working on triggers but the ones we have started to recognize are making management (or avoidance) sooooo much easier.
Wonderful you have so many supporting and loving friends and you can see the grateful in otherwise challenging circumstances xx

Marita November 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

LOL ‘decorations buffet’, love it.

Ai Sakura November 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

Mmm yes, once Halloween is over, it’s full-steam ahead for Christmas! Glad there’s so much positivity in you despite the “obstacles”. Happy Hols with your family :)

Marita November 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm

Thank you. :)

Bronwyn @ At Home Mum November 17, 2011 at 9:08 am

I know what you mean. We try and limit our exposure to places where there are too many lights, sounds and people. So shopping centres with the kids is usually tried to be avoided. We try and do alot of internet shopping too and love Aussie Farmers Direct.

It is great that you have such a supportive network of friends and teachers. They do really make the difference don’t they.

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Support network makes a world of difference. I don’t think I could survive doing this without them.

Trish November 17, 2011 at 10:29 am

I am glad you have a plan to manage and keep the girls feeling safe and secure during a season which can overwhelm anyone at the times.
Ay for Christmas lights.

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Thanks Trish :) Having a plan always helps (and a couple of back up plans :grin: )

Laney @ Crash Test Mummy November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The way you parent and manage your family inspires me Marita. You have so much more on your plate than I do and you’re doing a great job. So conscientious. I find the mall overwhelming, so I too will be thankful for a bit of online shopping and homemade presents ;)

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Thank you :) So many people thankful for online shopping, glad I’m not alone :)

Kate November 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm

So glad you’re able to prepare for the overwhelm of the silly season Marita. And wholeheartedly agree re online shopping!

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Thank you Kate :)

Daisy November 17, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I loved reading this. A silver lining can be gold at times! In my ignorance I hadn’t ever actually thought about children with autism and how Christmas could be difficult for them and their parents. Now of course it makes sense. I hope Christmas is smooth sailing for your family xx

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Thank you Daisy, fingers crossed for smooth sailing :)

Jess November 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I had never thought about the Christmas hype from an ASD perspective. I myself find the shops too crazy, and try to stay out of them after December 1st, but it must be especially hard for you guys.
But you’re attitude is so inspiring; choosing to see the positive, and be grateful is incredible. I really admire you for it. Xxx

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Thank you Jess :)

The whole world around us does seem to go nuts at this time of year.

loz November 17, 2011 at 9:14 pm

It’s true, there’s always something to be thankful for if we look for it. Love your list :)

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm

There is indeed, thank you loz :)

Denyse November 17, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Marita, you are such a caring mum and with much love, wisdom and foresight you do all you can to ensure the welfare of your daughters’ needs 24/7.
Now the mixed blessing of end of year( first one for Heidi at school) With added hype of parties, more daylight hours, Christmas whereever you look, and bone-aching weariness for you – especially as your body is telling you.
You are my parenting heroine. Day in day out. You stay ahead of the ASD as much as you can to help your girls thrive.
Much respect!
Denyse x

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Thank you so much Denyse :)

Sara @ Tis The Life November 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I love Online shopping! I seriously buy almost everything online now days. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to go to busy shopping centres with 2 children, let alone adding in the ASD aspect also.

Marita November 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Online shopping is the best. I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping online as well and it is just so easy.

Erin November 19, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I am so with you on how overwhelming Christmas can be, but as our babies grow up they cope better and better, and we continue to learn how the make things easier…Much to be thankful for!

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