With the holidays behind us, have you thought that the celebrations do not look the same in homes that have a child with a disability – especially a child who has autism? Susan Reeks, a mom who shares her precious son during GEMs Night Out and then gives back by volunteering for the YAH GEMs Dinner and Dances, wrote these thought-provoking words.
The Christmas season with a child who is nonverbal and on the autism spectrum is heartbreaking. For one thing, there is to worry that they don’t understand the Christmas story. It’s no fun shopping for them because they don’t like toys like other children do. You find yourself in the housewares department of Walmart or buying spool after spool of colored silk ribbon for the child to destroy. Parties and family get-togethers are turned down because it is just so exhausting chasing him around other peoples’ homes. He can just be so distractive even though he doesn’t mean to be.
And then there are the expectations of others. They don’t understand how bad it is because they don’t see it day in and day out like the family does. They camp out on the holiday and expect us to come to their house when we don’t even see them the rest of the year. It’s like no one offers us any help but they are so quick to judge and have an opinion. It just seems to intensify during the holidays.
We stay home for holidays now and try to make it as wonderful as it can be for our Jackson while maintaining some quality of life for the rest of us. And God always provides little miracles for us during the holidays, little pockets of happiness. Sometimes we have to look for them, but they are always there. Jackson wants to be like everyone else. He loves Christmas. But his obsessive compulsive sensory issues just make it hard on everyone. I invite you to join me in a personal challenge. I am going to publicly challenge myself to offer to help those families who need breaks or maybe just need an extra word of encouragement. I don’t know what that will look like, but I want to do more than just organize a monthly GEMs Night Out. How about you?