Handling the Holidays

How are you all doing? Did you survive Thanksgiving? Did Aunt Mrytle say something insensitive about your child, you, or your parenting? Well, we thought we should check-in. 

I am a Holiday fanatic, and even as I write this I am covered in glitter from “decking the halls”, wearing my “I believe in Santa” sweatshirt and cuddled up on my sofa eating gingerbread cookies and drinking cider. While my experience at this very moment is one cloaked in peace, harmony, and smells of apple cider and pine, this is not a common occurrence, especially for families with neuro-diverse children. It is safe to say, the holidays can be stressful and even downright unenjoyable at times. 

So how can a grown up “elf” help those who are battling to make the holidays a time of joy for all family members? Well, I have a few hints to get you started. As with any advice, it is important to take everything I say and apply it to your specific situation. 

  1. Work on a schedule. Make sure to communicate the expectations of the day or week. Talk to your child and communicate what will happen and what they can expect. 
  2. Pick and choose what activities are important. Be okay with saying no to an invitation. Also, be okay with cancelling or rescheduling depending on your child each day. 
  3. Communicate with others. Explain your child’s behavior and what others may expect or need to adjust due to how your child responds. For example, gift giving can be a tough time for some family and friends, especially if your child reacts in a non-typical way. 
  4. Work to establish your own traditions. Discuss as a family what is important and work to provide those kinds of experiences. Put your own family first and focus on their well-being. 
  5. Take care of yourself. Take time to reflect on the great things the holidays represent. Try and schedule time alone to recharge.

Celebrate the wonderful people that you have in your life, no matter the challenges, you are blessed. The Holidays can be less stressful with planning and an intentional focus on yourself and your family. 

We would love to hear some of your strategies that have helped you have a more peaceful and organized holiday experience. How have you handled family members who may not understand your child’s specific needs?

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Anissa Jepsen

Anissa Jepsen

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