My Son Gave Me All I Need for Christmas Without Even Knowing It

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santa11 30forps-santa11 30forps 2-0224 I don’t need anything for Christmas this year.

I really don’t. I can’t think of anything that could beat what I’ve already experienced this holiday season.

My son gets that it’s Christmastime.

He got that it was Thanksgiving.

He understood that it was Halloween.

He may not have the slightest clue what any of those things actually mean.

He wouldn’t eat his Halloween candy (that makes two years in a row his sister has really lucked out).

He ate a grilled cheese sandwich while we stuffed ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner.

He doesn’t know to look forward to Christmas gifts.

Yet, this year he’s plugged in enough to the world around him to understand that things are going on.

He’s plugged in enough to recognize that the decorations and excitement are associated with events happening in the world around him and he is so excited.

It wasn’t like this last year or the year before.

Last year, as Halloween and Thanksgiving passed, he was oblivious.

He didn’t recognize that there was anything different from the day-to-day.

He didn’t care that he was dressed as Captain Kirk for Halloween or that the family was gathered and stuffing themselves for Thanksgiving.

He didn’t care about the presents under the tree at Christmas.

This year, though… this year is different.

He still doesn’t care about candy or turkey.

He still doesn’t excitedly anticipate presents under the tree.

But he gets that something is different.

He gets that something is happening.

He acknowledges — excitedly — the decorations and costumes and lights and sounds and everything else that goes along with the fun of the holiday season.

He squeals and smiles and says “Halloween!”

or “Happy Thanksgiving!”

or “Merry Christmas!”

As we trimmed the tree, he ran in his favorite circuitous route around our downstairs saying, “It’s Christmas Eve!” — a phrase I highly suspect he poached, in his scripted way, from one of his Mickey Christmas movies that have been in heavy rotation on Netflix lately.

And in a way, that’s better than “getting it.”

He gets the excitement, the love, the joy, the pure jubilation of the season.

Not once will he ask me if his sister got more presents than him this year.

He didn’t complain about being forced to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV to make me happy.

He couldn’t care less that I dressed him as Spock for Halloween and taught him the Vulcan salute.

He’s just joyous.

Joyous and excited about the ever-expanding world around him.

That is the best — and only — gift I need this Christmas.

This post originally appeared on Sunny Days With My Loves.

For all of December, The Mighty is celebrating the moments we gave or received a gift that touched our lives in a special way. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post describing this moment for you. Include a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].
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Differences surround us. They can define us. They can hurt and separate, shape us and inspire us.

In fifth grade, the last thing most people want to be is different.

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IMG_6746 I’ve been to many parent/teacher conferences. I have three typically-developing children — well-behaved, high achievers. In these later years of their schooling, I’ve received a lot of forms with “No conference necessary at this time” checked off. In the early years I went in to confer with teachers, who, to my surprise, never wanted to talk about the sheer wonderfulness of my darlings. There was always a problem. Most of the time the problem was talking in class.

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“So naughty,” I filled in.

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I never expected that my heart would swell with joy when I heard my little boy was doing something naughty. I went around bragging about it for days. He’d given me the gift not just of rebelling against something, but finding a new and better way to rebel when thwarted. Sometimes, when I worry, I take that memory out and picture Miss R.’s impression of T tossing a cup over his shoulder with determination and aplomb.

Naughty — but also very nice.

The Mighty is celebrating the moments we gave or received a gift that touched our lives in a special way. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post describing this moment for you. Include a photo and 1-2 sentence bio to [email protected].
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Ah, the holidays…

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There are so many social norms and expectations surrounding the holidays. It’s like there’s a big book of items that are stereotypical and everyone feels if they aren’t ticking off a certain number of them, they aren’t doing it right. So many holiday things are hard for people with ASD. Different foods/cooking smells, longer travel times to infrequently visited homes with unfamiliar people and a different schedule, things you can’t touch, sitting on Santa’s lap, opening gifts, more shopping trips, all the forced social interactions, I could go on and on…

This is a great opportunity to ditch all the “normal” expectations and start to develop BETTER, new, fun ways for you all to do the holiday thing. Free yourself from all that garbage and follow her lead. You can celebrate in an AUTHENTIC and true way to your family. Your special twist on things will mean so much more to her than ANY gift. It’s kind of exciting and freeing isn’t it – to get to rewrite the book and tick your own things off? You are going to have a much better time than a lot of “normal” families. Makes you almost feel sorry for them… 🙂

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This post originally appeared on Dancing With Autism.

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I had a few hours of free time on Sunday, and because I lead a very sexy life, I used the time to clean out my pantry. It’s a little room off my kitchen that has, over the last six years since my son came home, transitioned from a cute, chandeliered office/pantry to an enter-at-your-own-risk-I-can’t-be-responsible-for-what-falls-on-your-head room. It was time.

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I wanted to throw the darling cupcake as hard as I could against the wall.

Instead, I sat down next to the box called “ice cream social” and cried.

I remember this stuff. I bid on it at a silent auction years ago, back when ice cream socials and impromptu play dates and birthday parties had starring roles in my parenting plan. Back before I knew that my son’s meltdowns were not a phase and back when I thought he played by himself because he was shy. Back before I had any idea that I would not be a soccer mom but a special needs mom.

What I have here is a box full of plans for a kid I don’t have. Some days, like today, it makes me sad.

I was crying for my son, but I’ll admit I was also crying for me. Instead of six different ice cream toppings always on hand for my son’s friends, I have an endless supply of pens for his therapists. Instead of being the house that everyone comes to, we are the people that are never home. Instead of bike rides, we have speech therapy; instead of swim parties, we go to OT.

Do I begrudge this? Not ever. But is this what I planned? No. Every once in a while, not very often, but every once in a while, I give myself permission to grieve for the life I don’t have, to think about the mom I don’t get to be.

I wrapped up the cupcake and put it back in the box. One day. Maybe. In the meantime, the sweetest boy in the world was on his way home. As moms go, I think I’m doing OK. Ice cream socials are fun, but my son needs a mom with a backbone, some fight and a strong voice. I’ve got that.

But just so you know, I would have made an awesome soccer mom.

Sincerely,
Becca

This post originally appeared on Sincerely, Becca.

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