Today autism families are preparing for a family gathering. Some families are autism pro’s and will navigate with humor and wine. Some families are newbies that will drive in separate cars and won’t know how to respond to the twenty questions about their child that has autism. Then there are some families that won’t venture out to the family dinner, because it’s too painful, embarrassing, stressful and nerve wracking. Each family has a different journey but they can all relate to the need of being prepared and ready to make a run for it when needed.
Here are some tips to help families living with autism and their relatives.
– Smile, offer a smile to the parents, they probably haven’t slept much lately, and smiles are contagious.
– Offer a helping hand to the parents, and watch their child while they enjoy eating their meal in peace. You might even learn something new about autism.
-If a child with autism doesn’t want to be hugged, please don’t force it and don’t see it as bad parenting when the parent doesn’t make their child hug someone they aren’t comfortable hugging. Children with autism are affectionate, but they like to be in control of showing their affection.
-The Thanksgiving dinner that has been prepared with love may be a sensory nightmare. Don’t get offended if the parents have their own snacks for their child, walk in with fries from McDonald’s or if the child doesn’t eat your famous corn pudding at all.
– Have a designated safe zone for the child to go to, when a sensory break is needed. Encourage the child to return to the gathering after a small break.
– Don’t judge the family unless you are offering free babysitting services. It may have taken a lot to get the child dressed and in the car before visiting.
– Finally, don’t say “I don’t know how you do it.” We don’t know how we do it and reminding us of that might make us snap and throw the turkey at the wall.
Today I pray that autism families are accepted at their family gatherings and that the extended family will be supportive and embrace autism.
Today I’m thankful for autism and the wonder people that have crossed my path on our autism journey. Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
~Brooke, Harry and Syd