Christmas time is supposed to be one of great joy. So what does that mean for the child with aspergers? My oldest is always excited about Christmas; sometimes TOO EXCITED. The simple act of decorating the tree can quickly become very stressful for us because of this over excitement. So how do we handle it?
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1. We try to teach self control. This year at age 9, when we were decorating the tree, he was ALL over the place. We understand his excitement, but he must learn self control without crushing his spirit. So what we did was ask him to calm himself down. We explained to him the ornaments could get broke, the tree knocked over, or a sibling pushed down. When he still couldn’t seem to calm himself down, we had him sit. Sitting to watch usually does the trick as he does NOT like to be left out. Once his body seemed to calm down, he was able to come back and help us decorate the tree and listen to Christmas music.
( My oldest calming down reading a book)
2. Music: Sometimes turning on music will really calm down anyone. It especially speaks to my oldest. There are certain artists that really sooth him. Toby Mac, Buddy Davis, and the new Duck Dynasty Christmas CD are all ones that do that. Sometimes I can put on the music and let the kids dance out those wiggles and that in turn calms them down too:).
(My oldest loving his Toby Mac!)
3. Do not overbook. I know during this time of year everyone is having parties and get-together or attending Christmas plays. ‘Tis the Season right? These are all great ideas. However, for the child on the spectrum who honestly is socially awkward, this can cause a major sensory overload! We don’t avoid parties, as like I said they are good and they DO encourage our kiddos to step out of their comfort zone but we are careful which ones we go to, and how many.
4. For Home school. Christmas time can be both a blessing and a curse for us during home school. It is a blessing for obvious reasons, focusing on the Lords Birthday, Advent, those kinds of things. Also a HUGE hit is our Christmas Around the World. We have done this every year since I started homeschooling. That is where the curse starts lol. My oldest can’t stand if you think about doing something different. He is a creature of habit somewhat, so its almost like losing a friend. Its a good study and I love it too, but every now and then I think, what if we did X Y or Z instead. He just isn’t ready for that yet. Now, he is more then happy to do a different study ALONG with Christmas Around the World. He just feels he needs to have it the same.
5. Down Time: As I mentioned above with homeschool, my oldest is a creature of habit and in the month of December I like to slack off a bit on school and add in a lot of Christmas things. We still end up with more free time then normal and that is a problem for him. He is a child who has to have his mind working ALL the time. If not, he becomes very nervous. So the cure for that is to have a lot of resources on hand that go along with their obsessions. For instance this year, my kids ALL of them love Legos. So I have the the following available to them to build with over Christmas.
( Downtime Aspie style:))
6. Get them involved. Let them help you make gifts. Have them make gifts for family members too. Let them help you with input on presents for others and with list making.
7. Cut Down on the Amount of Gifts. It can be a major overload for a child on the spectrum to have mountains of gifts. Ask me how I know? lol In the last several years we have cut down on the kids gifts for many reasons, the main one is beliefs and Christmas becoming to commercialized, but when I look back at how Bookworm did when we bought more, to how he does now, I wish I had never done that many gifts. He is so much happier with a simpler Christmas. Turtle Boy, my sensory ADHD child is the same way.
8. We try our best to keep the Focus on what Christmas is really about…Christ. We make many memories as a family and have wonderful times, however there is not Christmas without Christ. Don’t underestimate that your child on the spectrum cannot get this message. We have spoke this wonderful message to our Children since they have been born and Praise to God, they all understand it and love the Lord with all their heart and soul.
I hope some of this advice helps….as always pray and ask God to guide you in your decisions for your special children.