Having autism during the holidays is challenging. I love the holidays, but my routine gets changed which makes me feel out of sorts. Getting anxious is going to happen. That’s a given. Expect it, but don’t let it ruin the day. Instead we need a calming influence. I love when my mom and I relax on the couch watching movies together. This is comforting to me. Yes, I do need to use my iPad to help me to sit there, but I am still paying attention even though it doesn’t look like I am.
Having autistic eating issues during Thanksgiving is never easy! Let me eat what I am comfortable with, but you can still offer me a taste of new foods to try. I may eat them or I may not, but it feels good to be included.
About being included…I love listening to conversation going on around me. Try to include me and talk directly to me, not to my parents. I may not answer, but if I can’t I still appreciate the gesture. When I am spelling, please give me time to finish my thought. People seem to be uncomfortable with silence, but it doesn’t feel good if people talk over top of me as I try to spell.
I need to make something perfectly clear. If I go off someplace to regulate myself, please don’t keep forcing me to come back! Being forced to socialize when I am dysregulated never turns out well! This is a surefire way to ruin the holiday! Being alone is what I need at the moment to comfort myself. Perhaps I might need to stim too. Embrace it. Don’t try to stop it. These are our tools to calm ourselves.
I do know autism during Thanksgiving can be challenging. Being with family can get messy sometimes. When there is love and understanding the rest will fall into place. Don’t forget, we love the holidays too, especially when we are surrounded by family who make us feel loved and accepted for who we are.
Isn’t that true of everyone?
Gregory Tino is a nonspeaking autistic who has been spelling on a letterboard to communicate since 2017. He is an advocate for other nonspeakers, presents at conferences, and his goal is to educate people on the incredible capabilities of people with autism. He has written four books, The Land Called Boring , The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks , The Autistic Boy In The Unruly Body , and Santa’s Gift . He also has written the narrative for multiple videos on his YouTube channel which is entitled Gregory C Tino. He is a proud member of the Spellers & Allies advocacy group and SEEN (Spellers Empowering Education for Nonspeakers). In his free time he enjoys writing for his blog The Autistic Mind Finally Speaks on WordPress and spending time with family and his Inside Voice friends.