The Best Christmas yet

I am a Christmas fanatic. I love the beautiful decorations, lights, music and get togethers as much as the next person. I love to decorate as much as possible and tend to beg to put things up very early. I have always loved to put up the holiday decorations. My husband and I have a negotiation every year on how early we can put up the tree.

Having 2 children with autism spectrum disorders has made holidays more challenging than it used to be. It is the most challenging part of the year for kids who live for predictability. Don’t get me wrong, my kids love the lights and delight in going to see them and having them on the tree. They enjoy opening gifts and receiving new things. The constant change in everything in everyone’s home is overwhelming to our youngest, Tristan.

Tristan thrives on routine and any change causes a whole lot of stress. We have a lot of meltdowns just traveling a different route to Grandma’s house. So you can see how a total revamp of the look in everyone’s homes can be down right disturbing. The change in appearance, smells, lights, christmas music and crowds pushes him over the edge. Usually, we end up leaving way before the festivities are in full swing. We are prepared for a quick and safe escape route when we go anywhere for the holidays.

All the sudden changes in his surroundings is like dropping him off in a new country and asking him to adjust. He can’t process what is going on and why it is changing so much. We try to prepare him slowly and decorate the house in sections so he can get used to things. I try to read or look at Christmas books with him and have him help decorate the tree.

No matter how much we prep for holiday travel, we make everyone aware that we may have to leave abruptly to keep him safe and calm. Usually we keep it to a minimum of one visit a day when traveling. It helps him settle in to a new place and visitors.

He has come a long way in his social skills, but we always are worried about how hard it is on him. Our son Hunter does wonderfully and always likes to go and visit. I feel bad for him because he enjoys the outings and when we have to cut it short he does get very upset. So this year we prayed for the best for both boys.

As luck would have it, Tristan was so very excited to go to Papaw’s and Mamaw’s house he grabbed his boots and was ready to go. I was so pleased. We went to a small gathering of just his aunt, cousins, papaw and mamaw. He has to touch and look at everything so we have to work on keeping him safe. But he did smile and play with his cousins and brother. They played chase and hide and seek. It made our day to see them both play and have a blast.

This was the first year he actually enjoyed opening gifts and that was an added bonus. He started to be tired and we knew it was time to go. Both boys did exceptionally well transitioning to leave and go to their other grandparents house.

We were fully aware that the next visit may put Tristan over the edge and end in meltdown, but we braved it anyway.  Much to my surprise, he loved it just as much as the first visit and even sat for some pretty amazing pictures. This was a rare treat for us. Pictures are few and far between with a running toddler. We were thrilled and it made the holiday the best yet.

The best thing about this holiday is that I have the gift of both my boys making great strides to recovering. I have watched them struggle and overcome so much in just a year. They inspire me to keep on fighting for answers and drive me to work hard when I am feeling defeated. They are my heroes and the air I breathe. This has been the best Christmas yet. I am blessed to be their mom.

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