Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Celebrating The Holidays With Autism

The preconceived notions about what it would be like to parent this child of mine, and the reality we live, are sometimes so far apart it is mind boggling. I had no idea the kinds of challenges we would face, or the immense joys we would experience. I had no idea that my son would lead me into a community of some of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

When I started blogging, I never imagined more than a few dozen people would read what I wrote. I never imagined that I would hear back from hundreds of people and get to share in their joys and frustrations. Life with autism is interesting. Especially, this time of year. 

You might recognize some of these scenarios, as I borrowed many of them from you. Many of these we have experienced right here at the Smith house too. 

Decking the halls can be a bit challenging for some of us.

What can be more fun than Christmas shopping? Actually, almost anything. 

And when you are out shopping, you might have the pleasure of running into a Santa!

But no worries, if you do not see Santa, there's always writing to him! We actually have Tate's letter to Santa on the kitchen table right now, ready to mail. Tate told Santa that he NEEDS a lego set that hasn't been made in years. Of course I found it on eBay for four times what it would have cost me originally. But Santa really needs to deliver. 

One year I helped a friend find elevator parts for her son with autism. Elevator Parts. They are his passion. If you think about it, most of us get useless gifts for Christmas. Why should people with autism be any different? People with autism can be hard to shop for sometimes, but they often have no trouble telling us what they really want.

Visiting in our home can take a toll on a person's self-esteem. 

Christmas Dinner. We have the same menu most years. So does my son Tate. Dinner Rolls. Nothing more. Nothing less.

I've heard from so many from the autism community that wish for less "advice" during family get togethers. People mean well. Most of them anyway.

Let me finish with one straight from our home. Tate is the tradition enforcer. Sometimes we did not even know we had started some of them, as with many of the other precedents we have accidentally set. Who knew that The Grinch is a Monday movie and Rudolph is only watched on Tuesdays? 

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Not in Kansas Anymore

We are not in Kansas anymore. We are travelling this weekend. Today, my nephew got married in Texas, much to Tate’s annoyance. 

Tate has known about this event for months and months, and the specifics have dominated much of his time and energy. I think Tate even went through the steps of grief before we came. There was denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Tate has been resigned for several days to the fact that he would indeed be coming with the rest of the family for this wedding. 

Sydney and I actually came to Texas several days ahead of my husband and sons. Trying to make things as easy as possible on the guys, I packed them before I left. I put Tate’s clothes in a brown paper bag for his dad to later place into their suitcase. I wrote on the paper bag with a marker, reminding them not to forget Tate’s toothbrush. And after I got that done, I drove away. And then I started getting texts from Tate, as did all his brothers and sisters and his dad. That brown paper bag was quite offensive to Tate. 

This is not the first time Tate has gone on a trip with us, determined to make it his last. He’s been to several college graduations out of state, and a couple of other weddings. Each time he goes through all the same steps, trying to convince me how unnecessary these trips are. 

This time is the first time that Tate has planned a retirement party to seal the deal. In our hotel room tomorrow, before we head for home, Tate will be presenting a speech that he has written. He is officially retiring. I almost feel like I should have gotten him a gold watch for the occasion. 

It does not seem to be the travelling itself that Tate hates, as much as it is the absence of being home. These trips ruin Tate’s regular routine, and infringe on his need to keep things predictable and the same. He is way out of his comfort zone. Tate has been pacing and wringing his hands at the hotel and at the wedding reception, unable to relax. Tomorrow, we will head for home. Monday morning Tate will wake up in his own bed and everything will be right in his world again. Well, until the next graduation or wedding, which according to Tate had better be in Kansas, on a Monday, or he is NOT coming.  

Note: Night 2 there was no sleep. Not one minute of sleep for Tate. And this is the most recent text...

Tate's dad and I are leaning toward an adult babysitter next time we have to travel. UGH!