Archive | November, 2010

Blogging about our children, use their real names or a pseudonym for privacy?

First off, this is something that has actually be on my mind for a while but it wasn’t until a well thought out post on another blog generated a lot of discussion, including one attack, that I really felt compelled to speak up about this.

Read the blog post here:

PrivacyI am very honest and very sincere in everything I do, especially when it involves a topic as important as Autism. This blog not only has my real name, but it’s the title… it’s even the URL address!

The question is whether or not my son would approve of me using his real name later in life… will he be embarrassed by it? Will others use this as a way of teasing or mocking him?

Autism Advocacy

I write about Autism. This is a personal blog but it’s not my personal blog about our vacations, times we’re sick, going to visit family, etc… it’s not a diary. It’s a blog advocating Autism, or more specifically, mine and my son’s stories and experiences.

As such, I write so that others that read will know that they’re not alone… maybe they’ll even feel inspired, motivated, educated… maybe they will be able to relate to the things I say.

This means that I have a lot more readers that I don’t know than I do readers that I do know. These people will likely never meet me nor my son face to face. But those that do know me will know a lot more about myself and my son than they did previously. But this is a global topic, Autism is simply so much bigger than just me or my son.

Honesty and Trust

A great writer can capture your hearts and your trust by the words they say. Sadly, most of us are not great writers. We’re people, we’re parents… and we’re simply trying to be involved in the community by sharing what we can. Therefore, making you cry, making you trust us, making you believe the words we say are the honest to goodness truth can be quite a daunting task.

I believe that being upfront and honest with my name adds to a reader’s faith in me. That I have nothing to hide nor anything to be ashamed of.

I recently read a new spinoff Superman comic, Earth One. In it, Superman talks to his mother about the costume she made… and asks why there is no mask. Her reply to him is that, with his power, people will fear him. They need to be able to see his face, to see his innocence and honesty so that they can know they can trust him. A mask would only make people fear him more, make them question him, make them not trust him.

I do like to think of my son as a little Superman, but I realize that it’s not great power that he has. It’s a disorder. Even still, his message is a very powerful one and a mask would always get in the way of that message… it would always leave a little doubt.

Shame and Embarrassment

Let’s be honest, you could be the best words-smith on the planet and paint your child in the brightest most noble light and other kids would still try to use it against them in the schoolyard. Teasing and mocking comes from the strangest places sometimes.

If you would like to protect your child from that sort of thing then using a pseudonym is definitely a good way to go. However, don’t think that those children won’t find some other way to tease your children.

I think of it as the old pillow armour, you try to put up all this padding around your child to make sure that no one can ever do them any harm and not only do they still get teased, but they’re teasing them about your pillow armour!

Whether you use a pseudonym or not, if you write from the heart and you write with honesty and good intentions, there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

One of the most important lessons in life for every child is to drown out or ignore those that try to mock your integrity. Shielding your child away from having to face that will not help them learn that lesson. They’ll likely have to learn it eventually anyway, so what does it matter if it’s your blog that becomes the trigger?

I can tell you one thing, if one blog post of mine positively affects one other human being, I will never ever have any regrets for posting it, no matter what names or contents I had put into it. I would hope that, later in life, my son agrees with that. If I use his name and someone else’s life is better for it, he should be proud, not embarrassed.

Levels of Privacy

The average person fears the internet a great deal and has every right to do so. There is a lot to fear because really, the world is out there… the best of it and the worst of it. I still know many people who absolutely refuse to use their credit card online yet use it often over the phone. The internet has multiple levels of encryption and security, a phone has none. Hmm…

Unfortunately for all those average people, there are a lot of above average skilled people on the Internet that could find your real name with a little digging in the right places. So the only people you’re really protecting yourself from are the other average people.

If you do take all the precautions necessary and never once enter your name into a computer, then maybe… but only maybe. Because there are still ways to track your accounts back to you.

I don’t mean this as a way to scare you, quite the contrary. You’ve been online all this time and you’re fine, right? I’m still here and I’ve been online for far too long! The thing is, you can be very very very private or only a little bit private. You’ll likely never be completely private unless you really know what you’re doing.

Conversely, think of all those people who offer their children up for the brochure photos, billboards… commercials even! Those people are all still doing alright. I don’t think they’ve had to endure any more school yard bullying than anyone else.

I’m going to guess that you haven’t taken it to that extent but think about those people that have. Their children are REALLY out there. And they’re probably extremely proud to be making a difference. To be the kind, warm and trusting faces that you and I need to see in those commercials.

So Many Reasons

There are so many reasons for wanting or even needing privacy. I can’t even begin to go through them all but sometimes there are legal issues, or a disagreeing husband or wife, perhaps you’re writing about things that are much more personal than just specific Autism related stories… the list is endless.

Then again, perhaps you really are using a pseudonym simply because you don’t want to use anyone’s name without their informed consent, even your own child’s.

Everything I have written in this blog post is my own personal opinion and my own personal reason for making the decisions I’ve made. I understand completely why and how people make their own choices.

I would never, for a second, doubt that someone is very proud of their child even though they hide them behind a fake name. You don’t have to reveal an identity to reveal your pride. You also don’t have to tell us your name for us to believe you or to learn from you.

This is Who I Am

My wife is a very private person, even after joining a forum where all people see is a user name, she still never really opened up to anyone for almost a year and a half. Suffice to say, she was skeptical when I started this blog.

However, she very quickly saw the need to share who I really am and to share my son with the world. I guess I should say, my need.

When you read my blog posts, I don’t write like a doctor, I don’t write like a writer… I write like me. And to use another name is to write like someone else. To pretend to be someone I’m not.

This is who I am, a very proud father. My son is absolutely amazing and I know that so long as I believe that through and through, and so long as I write with honesty and sincerity, those who read it will think that my son is amazing as well.

I can’t even imagine writing something that would embarrass him or make him feel any shame because I can’t think of anything that would qualify. He’s an inspiration to me and hopefully, through him, I can be an inspiration to others.

My Son, Cameron.

Cameron is his name, it is the name I gave him and the name I will never be afraid to share with the world. I do not know what the future holds in store for him but I like to think that what I do now, with this blog or otherwise, that he can be proud of me.

I also hope for a future where, despite still having Autism, he continues to speak out and inspire people with me. That he has a ‘normal’ and fulfilling life but is able to continue raising awareness, continue getting involved with the Autism community.

It’s not a guarantee though. I would never force him into anything in his life. If he isn’t comfortable with that or has no such desires, that’s fine too. I will be no less proud of him, he will be no less of an inspiration to me.

I will, however, make sure that he knows that what I do, what I say, is bigger than just him. That I would do anything for him, that I do everything for him, but also that there are so many out there that need an encouraging word, a little advice.


I’m getting off topic here but the point is, you reading this, is very important to me. I owe you the truth. And the response that I’ve received from readers like you has been astounding.

I honestly believe that the wonderful feedback and support I’ve received through blog would not be anywhere near the same level if I couldn’t be completely upfront and honest with you.

That’s not to say that you or anyone else couldn’t use a fake name and get the same response. It’s just how it is for me. It’s how it always has been for me and always will be.

What’s truly important is that no matter what name you have, no matter what name you use, be honest and sincere. If you speak the truth and you keep the bigger picture in mind, there can be no shame in the future.

Comments { 9 }

Rewards vs Punishments

Most every parent follows a very obvious pattern, when their child exhibits good behavior, they’re rewarded and when they exhibit bad behavior, they are punished.

The problem with this very basic concept is that it’s rarely ever balanced. In fact, many people fail to realize what a good balance even is. Rather than just suggest to you a percentage to try to achieve, I’d rather give you something else to think about… the consequences of each.


Rewards are often thought of as candy, treats, ice cream, a present, video game time, etc… the idea is that your child earns something that they really enjoy for a job well done. What some people fail to realize is that there’s another form of positive reinforcement that has an even stronger and longer lasting effect: pride.

Your children think the world of you, even if it might not seem that way sometimes. In fact, I would argue that your child sees you the same way that a deeply devoted religious Christian sees God. Giver of life, provider of food and shelter, rewarder, punisher, etc… when you think of that level of devotion and admiration, you can see just how incredibly important you are in their lives.

As such, you could shower your child in their favorite candy & toys and still never get even a fraction of the way to how they would feel if you just show them how proud you are.


Giving your child a timeout or grounding them is a great way to get the point across when your child does something wrong. The problem is that children are very adaptive and learn to cope with the things they come to expect often in their lives. We’ve all seen it happen in movies and stories, where even the worst case scenarios turn out poorly. A spanking parent or even one that outright beats their child as a constant punishment often loses their effect. The child toughens up and learns to just take it… making the punishment ineffective.

Much like rewards, the most effective punishment is to simply explain/demonstrate how disappointed you are in your child. This is what makes the time outs, groundings and even spankings effective at first. It’s a very clear way of showing your disgust with what they’ve done.

There’s a very real danger, however, of taking it too far. What often happens is that, as bad behaviors increase, the level of disappointment increases as well and parents find themselves saying outright hurtful things towards their own children. Many people think that children are more likely to stop a bad behavior the more they think that you’re embarrassed or disgusted by them. The truth is, however, that they’ll be more likely to repeat those behaviors.

After a while, they’ll begin to resent you, or worse… seek out those forms of attention as it’s the only form of attention they’ll get after a while.

The consequences of each

rewards punishments

Positive = Go. Negative = Stop.

Why am I not splitting this up to discuss the consequences of rewards and the consequences of punishments? Well, the fact is that the consequences of each are the same.

Whether you reward your child with pride or punish your child with disgust, they will forever seek out more of it and it will have a lasting effect on your child’s self esteem for life.

I can’t put it any simpler than that. Your pride will empower your child to continue being a great person, to seek out more pride from everyone around them. Your disgust will act as a beat down on your child, making your child feel like they can never amount to anything, will constantly be a negative person around people and never living up to expectations.

It sounds harsh but think about your own childhood. I bet you can vividly remember times when your parents were very disappointed or even disgusted with you. That very strong emotional response doesn’t go away. It stays with you for life.

Those that can’t remember anything but disappointment and disgust don’t grow up to become rich and famous. There’s no incentive to work hard if they’ll only be met with more disgust. Losing jobs and failing at everything becomes so common that it becomes expected. It’s just how it’s always been. It’s a progression that leads to misery.

Those that are always encouraged continue to excel and do better than they had done previously, as they seek out more of that pride. When you’re proud of your child for learning letters, they try hard to learn how to put letters together to read, because they want you to be proud of them again. It’s a progression that leads to excellence if you nurture it enough.

So what is the balance?

There is no magical percentage to strive for when balancing out your rewards and punishments, but there is one way to achieve it without even putting in much effort. Follow this one simple step:

Don’t forget the pride!

The problem that most parents face when they do have a child that they need to punish often, or when they’re simply too busy every single day is that they forget to show their children the proper pride.

Keep saying “great job!” or “you’re awesome!” even if it’s just to celebrate the little things. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be in celebration of anything. I like to tell my boys how great they are as I tuck them into bed. I either just reinforce the positive or I remind them of the good things they did that day.

Every single time you show your child some pride, there’ll be one less time you’ll need to punish your child… they’ll continue to seek out the positive.


People with Autism are especially sensitive to this as memories can stay with them from as early as 1 year olds. Those with Autism often struggle through out their entire lives trying to understand what is it they do right and what they do wrong to warrant the reactions from others. Something they do wrong, and get a harsh reaction from their parents, may have been something that they thought they were doing right. This conflicting sense of right and wrong will stay with them for a long time, maybe even for ever.

So your punishment may be right, but the only thing your child takes from it is a life long sense of not ever knowing how to behave.

For those with Autism, you need to be very careful with your rewards and punishments. With every word you say, good or bad, keep in mind that it will be remembered forever, and will impact the rest of their lives.

Comments { 2 }

Share the Love – Siblings without Autism

One of the main concerns in our home is how to balance our time and attention between our two small children. We have come to realize that there will probably always be a bit of an imbalance between the two since JD naturally needs so much attention because he has autism. Here are a few things we have found that work really well for our family to spread the love.

  • Play time- This doesn’t ever seem to go as planned but it still seems to work somehow. Usually we take a ball and one parent sits with each child while we roll it back and forth. It was suggested by one of JD’s therapists after Gwen decided she was going to push all his buttons to get him to pay attention to her.  It started when she was only 10 months old.  He generally ignores her and she decided that any reaction was better than no reaction and was turning into quite the bully. JD is not always happy about trying family play time but we always try to incorporate some sort of time together if at all possible. It has helped curve Gwen’s aggression to JD because she feels like she is getting some attention from him.  Even something as simple as having JD grab a toy and offer it to Gwen works on some days.
  • Alone Time- If you have more than one child you will understand how different it feels when you are back to one on one time with a child. This stratigy is much easier said than done but we try and do it at night. We will have one parent stay home with one child while the other takes child number two out. We keep it simple and the outings are usually errands that need to be run anyway but the one child really seems to be happy to go alone with just mommy or daddy. The parent at home also makes this a quality time by turning off the TV and just interacting with the child. If JD is the one home we use this time to implement floor time therapies.
  • Parent Time- Taking one child out with both parents.  This one is the hardest for our family to implement.  Often if we have a spare moment where child care is involved my husband and I would rather spend it without the kids.  Alone time for parents is a must!  However every once in a while we will take one of the kids (usually Gwen) on a “date night” with us.  We can focus all of our attention on her and she soaks it all up.

I can only imagine how hard it is to have a sibling with autism that seems to have a different set of rule and will often get more attention.  My husband and I are both middle children from large families so we understand how you can often find imbalance even where there are no special needs involved.  Granted our children are both young and right now this is what works for our family.  We know we will have to get more creative as they get older.

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How do you explain Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day to a child with Autism?

If you’re curious about the title, in the US, Nov 11 is Veteran’s Day, in Canada, it’s Remembrance Day. Why is it named differently? I have no idea. Anyway, I digress…

So today we had to tell my son that he’ll be going somewhere special when he goes to school, that they’re taking a special trip to the local Legion hall to see some history, maybe learn a little bit about the darker side of our world… war.

This left me having to explain to him what Remembrance Day is (yes, I’m Canadian).

To start off with, Autism or not, how do you explain concepts so huge to a child, such as world peace, soldiers dying, sacrifices for our freedom… it’s all pretty grim to be talking about with a child as it is but when you get into details, what does a child know of such things?

Now, if you factor in Autism, you run into additional barriers such as the concept of the past. My son, and many with Autism have a tough time with the concept of time in the sense that something happened so long ago, or won’t happen for so very long. Recognizing how long hours will be is enough of a challenge much less years, 10’s of years, dozens of years!

Then on top of that, is the concept of death. Children in general think of death as something that happens to their favourite video game character where they pop back up and you try again. Children with Autism have a whole other level of non-understanding on top to deal with. You can talk in circles for hours trying to explain death to a child with Autism. You’ll depress them but they will very likely never actually understand it.

This brings me to my talk with my son this morning.

remembrance day poppy

Lest We Forget

It started with “Once upon a time” because children identify with that from various stories and movies. This gave the concept of time as simply being “before now.”

I then explained that there was a bad guy…. like Bowser. He’s the bad guy in his favourite Mario video games. And like Bowser, this man wanted to take over everything and have everything for himself.

But people, people like mommy, daddy and grandma and grandpa and so on all went to fight the bad guy and stop him from taking over.

This really got his excitement level up because he was visualizing us as Mario characters going off and jumping on Bowser’s head to stop him.

The real let down was in explaining that those people weren’t video game pretend people, they were real life people with real life boys and girls at home, with real life beds to sleep in and real life friends to hug and kiss.

Once he got that concept, I explained that some of those people, that went off to fight Bowser, they never came home again.

This was the part where he started to ask a lot of questions, the one he asked most was “never ever ever?”

I think that was the part where it sank in most… and really hurt me most, to be honest. I kind of wish he hadn’t gotten it. As proud as I was in being able to get the message across, as proud as I was that he was able to get the concept, even if skewed slightly… at that moment, I wish he hadn’t.

He asked about them seeing their mommy’s and daddy’s again, and I said no. He asked about them coming back later, after the fighting… and I said no.

To try to make sure he didn’t “get it” too much, I explained to him that the good guys did win. The bad guy was defeated, the fight was won! And he, myself and everyone are free to go to school, have candy and play games.

This helped, he really likes it when the bad guy loses.

However, this prompted him to ask “so then everyone got to go back home?”

Oh well, so much for perking him back up again.

But that was the moment I had been waiting for to explain that those people that beat the bad guy in a big fight but still never got to go home, today is their day. Today is Remembrance Day because every mommy, daddy, little boy and little girl remembers those good guys that won the fight but never got to go back home.

Today is the day we we feel sad that they will never go home. Today is the day that we feel happy that the bad guy lost. Today is the day we tell our little boys and little girls about the good guys.

Cameron is at school now, I’m sure all of what I talked to him about is still going through his head. I know it’s still going through mine.

He might not get the concept of when anything happened, he might not get the concept of the whole world being involved, he certainly doesn’t get the concept of death… but he knows the good guys won the fight against the bad guy but some will never get to go home.

It’s probably not the best analogy in the world but it made him sad, made him proud and made him start asking questions.

In the end, that’s the whole point of today, isn’t it?

Comments { 5 }

Some Christmas tips for those with children on the Autism Spectrum

Christmas is stressful enough for parents, having to budget and shop and organize and decorate and so forth… it becomes that much worse when you consider that your child or children won’t even enjoy all your efforts. Quite the opposite, it might be too much for them and ultimately become a disaster.

I won’t be able to solve all your problems, the vast number of issues that children can have in such a hectic and very big period of time can’t really be covered in just one blog post. But I do have some suggestions that will hopefully make it a bit easier.

Christmas Shopping

Cameron Christmas 2005

Cameron's First Christmas 2005

The great thing about malls and stores starting the holiday shopping season so early is that it gives those of us with Autistic children a pre-boarding pass. It means we can avoid the crowds and craziness and just take our time. Most of us don’t, but we could… and we should.

Actually, you should start shopping in January if you can help it. If you’re like me, Autism and having a family in itself can drain the bank account quicker than we’d like. So us Autism parents have to spread out the shopping through out the year even more than most families, and it’s a good idea for everyone. If you spend $50 on one present each month for 3 months, it’s far easier to manage than to spend $150 on 3 presents from one paycheck in November or December.

Speaking of November, early November is a great time to get your children into the stores to start window shopping. Take some notes and see what they like, what they don’t like. It allows them the freedom to really think about the toys rather than the other kids around them, the crowds all talking at once and so on.

It also gives you a stress free outing (or less stress anyway) where you can really get some good vibes from them.

Another alternative is catalogues. Everyone’s done the catalogue thing, where you circle toys/games that you want. This is something that even non verbal children can do, they don’t have to get it perfect but can usually get the message across to you.

The down side to shopping in November is that their wishes may change in 2 months, but it’s a risk worth taking. Even if they decide they want something else in that time, they’ll likely be reminded and very happy once they see what they were thinking about just a short while ago.


The good thing about decorations is that they come in all shapes and sizes, however the bad thing is that some will have an adverse effect on your Autistic children. And the affect it might have can be so subtle that it might not show up for several days. Blinking lights, glittery objects, sound making trinkets all over… these can wear down the senses over time without anyone even realizing what it was.

A few things should be in your mind:

  • If you insist on lights (and who doesn’t?), pick lights that stay on, or have settings such that you can have them blink from time to time but be set to be consistently on the rest of the time.
  • Some tinsel is nice, but if you have bright lights aimed around or aimed at the tree, these and other decorations can give off blinding little flashes that you and I might not think much about but can get very frustrating. If you notice your child ‘retreating’ from the room or finding a favourable spot, it may be because it has the least glare.
  • Some singing or noise making decorations are great, they’re especially great if they are activated in some way. For example, a singing plushy that goes when you press a paw or foot is a great way to give your children control of it. Random sounds can be a little scary.
  • Background music is best kept in the background, if at all. That means, keep it quiet. If you have it to where you can make out the words and sing along, it might be too loud for your little one. Remember, your children might not have a ‘background’ setting when it comes to their senses. That means that what you barely notice is there, they hear perfectly clearly and are having to battle that music while trying to listen to you.  If they don’t listen to you, it might just be that they don’t actually hear you.
  • Get your children to help with decorations. Have them decorate the bottom half of the tree, or along some railings inside the house… someplace low. Getting them involved is a wonderful way of helping them cope with them being there. They feel a huge sense of pride but also comfort in knowing that the decorations are there because they put them there. They remain ‘in control’ of their space.

Family Gatherings

The best you could do is to have everyone to your house for Christmas but unfortunately this just isn’t a reality for everyone. Whether it be a small house, distant family or just that family would like to host their own gatherings sometimes, you’re just going to have to face the reality that you will have to leave the comfort of your own house.

First and foremost, before anyone goes anywhere, try your best to make family realize that your child is going to be overwhelmed. Have patience, you can handle it, your child doesn’t mean to be bad and could possibly come across that way at some point. Some might not understand no matter what you say but at least you will have said it, and some will ‘get it’ and hopefully speak up for you when you’re not there and someone makes a comment. It does happen.

Also, your family has to realize that your child will very likely not hug them, much less give them kisses, to get their presents or treats. Don’t let anyone force your child into that sort of situation. It’s like asking an arachnophobe to go into a room full of spiders. The first person they have to reluctantly hug for something in return may be the trigger that makes the rest of the night unbearable. Make sure your child says please and thank you but that’s it, no one should expect more than that.

If you do get Christmas at your house, discuss ‘safe zones’ with your children. Someplace they feel safe, it’s quiet, comfortable… set up some toys or anything else they like such that they can retreat when need be. They might just disappear there the whole time but it’s better than what could be the alternative.

Going to someone else’s house to celebrate the holidays doesn’t give you a safe zone but that shouldn’t stop you from finding one. If your child needs space, take them there. Don’t make it a time out zone or anything, but just a place to get away. Let the family think they’re being taken off as a punishment if they truly don’t understand, but don’t let your children think that. It’s just meant to be a way to ease the senses.

Also, forget about dressing them up to look good. You seriously have to put away the expectations or opinions, even from family. If they can’t understand that your child simply can not wear those fabrics or collars or what ever, then too bad for them. They’ll just have to talk behind your back. Your child comes first before their attire opinions.


When it comes to differences in Autism, food is a huge factor. You could have thousands of children all in a room and no two of them would have the same diet. Family will never ever listen but it still doesn’t hurt to tell as many people as you can to NOT FEED YOUR CHILD ANYTHING.

It’s a ground rule with my family, they know it now and abide by it but still, sometimes things slip. Just last night even, a family member was going to give my son a rice crispy treat until another family member spoke up and said “you better check with his mom and dad first”. She did. Turns out, it had gluten in it, which Cameron is not allowed.

And that’s the key right there. If you get enough family members on board, someone might speak up in time even if some family members don’t know or won’t listen. It could save you a lot of trouble later on.

You can try to educate as many people as you can but ultimately the best solution is to just tell everyone not to give your children food. They will be so very tempted to spoil your kids, that’s what family does. But hopefully after a Christmas or two, or some right words, they will listen to you.

For us, our family had to actually see my son bouncing off the walls after eating gluten, and witness the radical change in him to understand just how much it affects him and why we are so very adamant about this basic rule.


Let’s face it, you can’t tell everyone what they should or shouldn’t get you. And telling everyone to just send you cash doesn’t make for a very fun Christmas.

Hopefully if you’ve done your window shopping early enough, as described earlier in this post, you will have the time to send out some ideas to family from your list.

If not, the question has been asked of me if I’d be happy or offended that family tries to get sensory friendly toys for my boys. The answer is, I’d be thrilled. Even if not quite right, it would show me that they actually ‘get it’ and are trying.

That being said, a good general rule of thumb that my wife and I go by is to let them get what they want to get… and keep the educational and sensory presents up to us. After all, who could possibly know better what to get in those departments than us? And what family member wants to get a boring educational toy when something else would look more fun?

In the end, you just have to remember that every parent has a child that gets presents that are just not appropriate, or just too loud, or just simply unwanted… having a child with Autism might make it more likely but it does happen to everyone.

Don’t get offended, don’t make a big deal out of it. Just prepare as best you can ahead of time with family. Give them the freedom to get a wrong present. It’ll be ok. It’s Christmas after all. They only want to try to put a smile on their little faces.

Santa Claus

For the first few years, when your child is 3 – 6’ish, depending on how well they’re adjusting, Santa might be best left to the television screen or in a parade. Let’s face it, to a little child that is unable to look their own mother in the eye, Santa can be a tad… scary. Not so much scary in the sense that you or I think of being scared, but simply overwhelming. Santa is made out to be big, hairy, bright in his red suit and a loud boisterous ‘HO HO HO’… to a child with Autism, and many children in general really, Santa can simply be too much.

That’s when you get those pictures of children bawling their eyes out on Santa’s lap.

Don’t ever think that you’re child is missing out either. Really. Santa is no less magical when you see him on a parade float or performing magic in a movie. Santa is that overwhelming for a reason. Every child loves Santa from a distance. It’s the close up that is iffy.


In the end, it all boils down to some small sacrifices. You will likely be leaving early before the music gets loud (or the people do), plus, your child likely has a very strict routine making bedtime a necessity. You’ll likely be missing out on a meal or two here or there through the holidays as you stay with your child, or console them, or take them home… you’ll likely be missing out on great presents that are too much for your child to handle, you can’t put up the decorations you really want to, just in case.

It all sounds pretty brutal and if it’s all stuff that you really love about the holidays, then I’m sorry, it will be brutal.

But I would like to think that these sacrifices, even if tradition or you just really want them, they’re small sacrifices to make.

A couple of years without tinsel and you’ll wonder why you ever used it. A couple of years of telling family members not to feed your child and they’ll get it. They’ll likely even learn what foods they can feed them that you gave them last year.

A couple of years and your child will be able to handle the lights and sounds better as they mature, so it won’t be so bad. Their bed time might even be later by then.

If you can avoid a meltdown or two simply by being prepared, getting out earlier than most, educating family, having a plan for safe zones or times to leave….  it’s so worth it. Not just for you but for your dear children. They don’t want a meltdown at Christmas any more than you do. After all, this holiday is for them, the magic is for them.

I would love to hear about tips/tricks that you’ve learned through out the years to make Christmas a little ‘safer’ for those with Autism in your family. Please feel free to share.

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