Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bah Humbug

I'm having a very hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year. It seems, as every year passes, that it gets harder and harder.

And honestly, it shouldn't be this hard. Christmas music is pumped at us in stores and on the radio via 24/7 stations. Merchants have trees, ornaments and other decorations out for sale -- in fact, these sales have been going on since before Halloween! It seems the "season" is getting longer and longer (or is the correct term 'earlier and earlier'?)

Another reason it shouldn't be so hard is my son. He's 8 years old, and very much believes in the Man in the Big Red Suit. This should be a time of wonder and joy for me, experiencing it all for the second time around through his eyes.

But... WHY is it so hard?

Is it just the fact that I'm getting older, wiser, and more cynical? More jaded against the commercialism that is shoved at us?

Honestly, I think the reason could be my son. Not him personally, but the autism. Now, I know it's a scapegoat. Blame the A word. It's the easy out. But I don't think that way. Really I don't. There is a big difference between using the autism as a reason to escape every responsibility in life, and tweaking situations just a little so there's still the experience, but better managed in a way that my son can still participate.

(That's probably a another post for another time... so I'll just stick with the holiday theme here.)

(Either that, or I'm using the autism excuse because this is supposed to be a blog about parenting a child with autism, which I haven't blogged about much at all... so I better start now and this is a good way to fit it in? Nah.....)

Where was I? Ah yes.. bah humbug. My son's behavior has been on a downward spiral since Thanksgiving.

First off, there was the 5 day break from school over the Tgiving holiday. Breaks from school are NEVER a good thing for a child who depends so heavily on routine. Then, once he does return to school, the established routine is upset again - this time by decorations. All the fall decorations are gone and new winter/holiday decorations are up. And any change is not necessarily good.

But... one of the special education rooms has - I kid you not - a bulletin board of a tree, with actual blinking lights on it.

What. were. they. thinking?

Blinking lights?

His own special ed room has christmas lights snaking all over the ceiling. I've not seen them blink.... yet.

My child OBSESSES over lights. Cannot concentrate when there's one burned out, or humming, or otherwise doing something it's not supposed to do.

The lights have been up for a few weeks now and he's adjusted. So we finally decided to go ahead and put the tree up at home. After a few days of obsessing over the tree and the lights that are on that, we're finally back to "normal" routine.

It's just... hard.

Hard because the things that excite all the other kids, excite my kid too. But, it excites him to a level that pushes him over the edge. Making it hard for him to cope and move on - things that other kids can do without even thinking about it.

The overstimulation of this time of year is REALLY huge. I think most of us don't even realize that because we don't have to conciously try. Sure, we're stressed. But when we walk into a store (or the school, or at home) and see all the decorations and lights, etc... we just either tune it out or move on. We don't get 'stuck' like my son will, unable to pry himself away from the blinking lights on a display at the store.

Even though it's hard... he's still my son. And I love him with all my heart. More than I can describe. So, I'll keep on keeping on, doing what I know best... patiently biding my time, standing next to my son in the holiday section at Walmart, staring at the blinking lights! :)