To the Loved Ones Who Get Why We Bring a PB&J to Thanksgiving Dinner


The other day my cousin sent out a group text giving out the details for the Thanksgiving party she and her husband are hosting. Pretty soon my family members were bantering back and forth with tales of past feasts and pictures to prove it. I couldn’t help but pause for a minute. You see, out of all of the things listed on the menu, my daughter will not eat one thing. Not the yams that remind me of my mom who has since passed on. Not the green bean casserole prepared by my cousin. Not even the star of the show, the turkey. This saddens me, but we will still make the best of the day.

My husband and I have known for years that our daughter is a picky eater. She takes it to a whole other level. There are many foods that just don’t taste right or feel right in her mouth. This is just one part of her autism, a disorder called sensory processing disorder. Her brain doesn’t process sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes the way it should.

On Thanksgiving, turkey will not be on her plate. Thanksgiving is meant to be a joyous occasion. If the traditional Thanksgiving foods are a part of my daughter’s meal, she will be anxious and will not enjoy the day. Instead, I will pack her a lunch full of her favorite foods.

Thankfully for us, our family members understand my daughter’s challenges. They love and accept my daughter just the way she is.

On this day of giving thanks, I’m thankful for family members who understand that while the turkey is an important part of the day, it’s also a day for making memories with loved ones.

To my family, I just wanted to say thanks for keeping mum about my daughter not eating the foods you so lovingly prepared. You know this is no reflection of the love she feels for you. She cherishes the time spent with you. In her mind, the fact that you love and support her in spite of her challenges means the world to her. As her mom, your acceptance of her as a member of your extended family is huge. Unlike those with visible disabilities, hers are hidden. That doesn’t make them any less difficult for her or us as her parents. In some ways, it’s harder.

Thank you again for going out of your way on this memory-making day. My daughter cherishes these moments.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or illness during the holiday season, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sarah smiling

To the People Who Call Me Brave for Sharing My Asperger’s Diagnosis

At the beginning of every class, there’s always a bit of an icebreaker. Sometimes it’s a specific question like, “What’s your favorite movie?” (“The Cabin in the Woods,” incidentally) or “Who’s your favorite band?” (This can get awkward when you only listen to musical cast albums.) Or it can just be an open-ended “introduce yourself” [...]

To the Woman Who Taught Me About Being a Special Needs Mom

Dear Mom, I tell you all the time how much I appreciate you. I do what I can to show you that gratitude as often as possible, yet I always wish I could do more.  You are the one whose guidance and love taught me to love myself the way I so comfortably do, and [...]

When My Son Told Me Why He Threw Up During Speech Therapy

My son and I have the best talks while driving around town. His first sentence came out in this car. I don’t know why he can carry on a conversation so much better on four wheels, but maybe the car has nothing to do with it. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s back there and I’m up [...]

17 Tips to Make Thanksgiving More Comfortable for Kids With Autism

Thanksgiving is a holiday that involves a lot of planning, but for many families, it goes far beyond turkey and hosting. For children on the autism spectrum, Turkey Day can be a chaotic and overwhelming day, so we asked parents in our community if they have any special tricks to make it more comfortable for their kids. Here’s what they had [...]