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Why the Holidays Can Be Hard for Me as a Person on the Autism Spectrum

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This time of year — the holiday season — can be especially hard for me as an adult with an autism spectrum disorder. It has been especially hard for me to deal with Thanksgiving and Christmas since both of my parents passed away many years ago, and I don’t see my family members often. I have been living on my own for many years now. Most of the time during the year, I do not mind being single and on the spectrum. I am as independent as possible with a little help, because I also have a medical condition that has to do with my heart and lungs. But when the holidays come near, I have a hard time dealing with it.

A few years ago, I was so down about the holidays I wrote a Facebook post saying I was not sure I was going to decorate for Christmas. Thankfully, many of my friends came to my rescue and encouraged me to decorate my place, which I did after much thought and prayers. For the past 15 years I have also been alone on Thanksgiving. It is also a hard holiday to get through. Thankfully, I do have a 17-year-old cat I love and adore who keeps me going. During that day, I usually keep Facebook on all day to keep me company to see what my friends are up to, and they can see my posts during that day. One little nice thing about being alone on Thanksgiving Day is that I can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in peace, and I don’t have to deal with manners like I would at a family member’s place. I can cook my own turkey and have what I want to eat at Thanksgiving dinner, even though it can be a lonely experience.

Every year I have three close friends who visit me right before Christmas. I have known these wonderful friends since our college days together. Every year they bring Christmas presents to open on Christmas Day. If it were not for them, I would not have any gifts to open on Christmas Day. I do have an after-Christmas get-together with my family, which is nice. It’s nice to see everyone. But for some reason, maybe it is the Aspie in me, but I feel like I am looking in from the outside. I feel like I don’t belong.

If there is anyone else who has a hard time with the holidays, my advice is to remain strong. Maybe try to see if there are any family members who would like to invite you to their house for the holidays, or if you have friends you might be able to spend time with over the holidays.

Over the last several years, I’ve been trying to get myself in the holiday mood by listening to Christmas music a little early, and I try to get my place ready for Christmas by Thanksgiving Day. I hope this story will help others who are like me.

Originally published: November 27, 2016
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