In today’s post, there are two things that I would like to discuss: preparing for the holiday season with someone on the Autism spectrum, and the topic of giving.
Although I wrote a blog on this topic last December (The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?), I thought it would be beneficial to go more in depth into some of the challenges of the holiday season (and how to overcome them). Here are some tips that will help!
First and foremost, preparation is one of the most important factors that needs to be taken into account for ASD families. I always need to know schedules of events, and especially when I was younger, I needed to “practice” beforehand to prepare for the various social aspects that were involved. For example, my parents and I rehearsed opening presents from family members. As coming up with gifts is sometimes a personal challenge of mine, I often have a somewhat-short holiday wishlist. So, my mom used to come up with things that she knew I wanted (for instance, that one toy that I kept begging her for in previous months). The issue was that when present unwrapping time came up, I would say things such as “what’s this?” or “I never asked for this!” Although in all honesty I did use and enjoy all of my presents, my instinctual socially inappropriate reaction said otherwise. Besides preparing for gifts, my parents and I used to have “game plans” for when I was overstimulated during family gatherings. We would come up with code words that I would use in advance so that I could properly communicate my feelings to my parents. Looking back, I think that this was a fantastic idea and encourage all parents with kids on the Autism spectrum to experiment doing the same!
Continuing on the topic of preparation, many individuals with Autism are extremely resistant to change; it often triggers overstimulation, meltdowns, and generally uncomfortable feelings. As I celebrate Hanukkah, there are never extravagant decorations all around my house: there’s no lights, there’s no tree, there’s no stockings up on the wall, there’s no man in red with a white beard running around talking about his native North Pole origins. Knowing all of this, I could only imagine the anxiety that decorations could cause individuals with Autism. The one thing I would say to parents would be if you’re going to start decorating, start now! In other words, don’t procrastinate. The “ideal plan” would be for parents to talk to their kids about the changes that will be made (how they will look, what they mean, and the fact that they’re not permanent), and then slowly make changes… don’t have them come home from school one day with the whole house looking different.
The last and most important thing I would say is to know your loved one with Autism! This idea doesn’t just apply to holidays, it’s an everyday thing. There are certain tell-tale signs or symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders. According to an article on Web MD, three of these include social withdrawal, verbal or nonverbal communication problems, and rigid and repetitive behavior. Nonetheless, each child is uniquely human. It’s the job of the parent to know the ins and outs of their child, especially when it comes to Autism. Are there any specific triggers for meltdowns? Do certain stims represent certain wants/needs? What’s the best way to cope with overstimulation? These are a few questions that every parent should know the answer to.
These tips that I have thought of have worked for my family and I, in addition to other Autism families that I know of. Try some of these out and email me your thoughts! I’d love to know!
Now, onto the topic of giving. I’m going to be transparent. I need you all to read this.
I pride myself on offering free content to all of my viewers; my blog is absolutely not a business. Contrary to what you may think, blogging is extremely expensive (especially for me, as a seventeen-year-old student with no steady income). My blog costs about $1,000.00 to manage every year. I’m at a point where I have cut down on every single thing that I can within my budget. If I cut down anything else, my blog would lose quality; I am not prepared to, nor will I, lessen the quality of my blog as I know how many people I am helping. I’ve been blogging since March 2017. Within the first few months, I received many generous donations (enough to cover eight months). I am so grateful for my viewers who have donated. When I say this, I mean it… every dollar counts. Since then, I have only gotten minimal donations.
For the past number of months I have been taking money out of my own personal funds to keep my blog up and running. In all honesty I can’t keep doing this. My goal is not to make profit, my goal is to break even when I blog. I put in thousands of hours into writing, editing, and operating. It is an absolute honor for me to be able to serve the Autism community in this capacity, being able to share my story in hopes of promoting awareness and acceptance. Believe me, I do not want to be writing this section of the blog. But I need to.
I understand and respect that everyone has different financial situations. If you are not in the position that you can donate money, that is completely okay. If you aren’t in a position to donate monetarily, you can do things such as share my posts on social media, talk to your own Autism community, or even email me (I love hearing from viewers). If you are in the position to donate, all I can do is ask. Your funds will allow me to continue to do what I love: to make a positive, lasting difference in the lives of neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals alike.
If you are able to, please donate any amount by clicking here to my “donate” page containing a secure PayPal link. This link accepts all donations, regardless of if you have a PayPal account or not.
Thank you all so much and I hope you and your families have a happy and healthy holiday season.