The Holiday Season officially begins with Thanksgiving. The time of year, you can see the visible shudders of parents and grandparents of children with Autism.
While your child’s social awkwardness spotlighted, so is the ignorance of those not normally around an Autistic child. Every cliche that has ever been said about Autism will be said over, and over again, during the Holidays. Relatives seen only annually will have great expectations of the Autistic child from a year ago. By now, the child should be speaking, toilet trained, reading, sitting quietly at the dinner table, etc. And why aren’t they?? Don’t you have them in the right school or Program? Well, you will be told, “Don’t Worry, My friend’s cousin’s daughter’s best friend’s son started talking magically at 13.” There, You see! Everything will be all right. Your child just needs more time, that’s all. It’s as if the more it is recited, the truer it becomes. You will be given the names of books to read, websites to look at, and yes, the name Jenny McCarthy will come up, and how she “cured” her child.
What it comes down to is tolerance. Not towards your child’s behavior, this time, but towards those who truly do not understand, and perhaps only ever remotely try to, for a few days out of the year. It is brain numbing enough for them to endure Autism for Holiday season, or God forbid, year round. The best way to deal with these people?? Nod, and say nothing. Things are too hectic to truly teach them anything this time of year, and frankly, they really don’t want the specifics of all the ABA and Hippotherapy that your child is getting, nor do they want all the updated statistic regarding autism and it’s diagnosis.
What they really want, deep down is to show, in their own awkward way, that they care. Because, family is family. So, just nod, pass the gravy and take a deep breath. Soon enough, they will be gone, you will be doing the dishes, and life will be back to normal. At Least, your kind of normal.