Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Posted on November 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Raising three children with autism can be quite challenging. Celebrating holidays with three children with autism—or even just one!—can be especially challenging. Over the years, our extended family has grown accustomed to the differences my children’s needs bring to the holiday season. Our family has adapted excellently and I know just how lucky we are for their support and accommodations.

Many families are not so lucky. Many families struggle with basic necessities and holidays can be especially trying. On the one hand, the expectation is that they must somehow access the mainstay traditions of the season, such as a turkey for Thanksgiving, whether their budgets allow it or not. I’ve been there and I know how trying and miserable that can be. On the other hand, parents can go through all the work to procure the ingredients and make the feast, only to find that their child(ren) with autism won’t touch the holiday meal. Instead, they want something that’s more familiar and comfortable. I’ve been there, too.

When spending the holidays with extended family, these complications can be further exacerbated. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can do their best to love the children with disabilities in their family, but if they don’t understand the disability the child has and they don’t understand what the child needs to celebrate the holiday, it can spoil the event for everybody. I’ve been there, too; though, once again, I’m lucky to have an extended family that’s very understanding and accommodating, but it has taken work on all our parts to get there. It is important for everybody to understand and keep in mind that it is not the disability, per se, that spoils a family event; it is the lack of understanding and accommodation that makes the event unsuccessful. That seems to happen in families a lot, and the issue isn’t always a matter of disability, but I’ve found that if people are willing to put in the work to love, understand, and accept one another, then any event can be a success, whether you have little or much.

So, I want to express my gratitude that Willy will be joining my mom, my husband, and me for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. And I want to express my gratitude that Alex and Ben will be able to enjoy the special family time of Thanksgiving without having to try any of the traditional foods. I’m thankful we have the choice and flexibility to ensure that our whole family can enjoy this holiday. And I’m especially thankful for the many holidays we have shared with our understanding and accommodating extended family.

Thank you all!

2 Comments on Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. Sylvia says:

    I hope your holiday went well, Stephanie. I always worry about everything that could go wrong, but we’ve never really had anything go terribly wrong for any family holiday gathering ever. We just try not to change Beth’s routine too much or require her to participate in any way that she doesn’t want too. This year my little 2 yr old grand niece was like a little therapist for Bethany. She got her out of her sour, anti-social mood and helped her enjoy the day.

  2. Our did, thank you, Sylvia. We’ve never had anything go terribly wrong, but we’ve had near misses. There’s been times when I’ve literally had to kick off my shoes (which were impractical for the purpose) and run after one of my kids to avoid possible tragedy. If there was enough time, one of my nephews would be sent instead. But when one of my kids are running towards water or running into wilderness, I run after them. Luckily that doesn’t happen much any more, certainly not during Thanksgiving. :)

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