This is a tad late, but relevant any time of the year. In 2008, a clever lady called Cindy Waeltermann wrote this poem using The Night Before Christmas as a guide.
I saw it on Facebook a couple of times and liked it.
It is often said that no two people with autism are exactly the same, but there are many common characteristics. Cindy captures these beautifully in her poem.
For people who are interested, the poem can be found here: Autism Night Before Christmas
Some of the stanzas that resonate most with me are:
Did I get the right gift … The right color … And style … Would there be a tantrum … Or even, maybe, a smile?
Lots of children are more interested in the box than the toy inside it. When he was younger, Geordie loved the paper, but he was absolutely overwhelmed if he was presented with more than 2-3 gifts at a time. These days, he’s ok with this … but have you ever met an 11-year old who does not know what he wants as a gift? Our concern is not whether the gift will be ‘the right one’, but what we can actually get for him.
He says he doesn’t want anything.
I don’t believe it … and have only just now (literally, as I am writing this) thought, we are forcing him to make a decision when we ask him what he wants, and that decision involves selecting between endless options. In other aspects of life, we give him 2-3 options at most. Asking him what he wants must smother him.
Note to self: don’t do this to him again.
“He needs discipline,” they say … “Just a well-needed smack, … You must learn to parent …” … And on goes the attack
Our extended family have always been absolutely fantastic with Geordie. However, occasionally, a comment slips through that shows maybe some of them are tolerant rather than actually ‘getting it’.
‘He’s got you running.’
‘Just tell/make him …’
‘He just needs …’
I am absolutely upfront about Geordie’s diagnosis whenever we meet people for the first time. It is not an excuse, but if it stops or silences the comments, stares or judgements, then I’m all for it. I can’t make people change their opinions, but I can make them keep them to themselves.
But what they don’t know … And what they don’t see … Is the joy that we feel … Over simplicity
He said “hello” … He ate something green! … He told his first lie! … He did not cause a scene!
Celebrate the simple things. I rejoiced the first time Geordie said hello to someone without me prompting him to. To see him eat what is on his plate (even when he doesn’t really like it) is amazing … every time! (Particularly if you know what we went through when he was in Year 1.) Whoever said that children on the spectrum can’t lie, they have never met my son. And – causing a scene – he rarely does that now … partly because he is getting older, and partly because we have learnt to pre-empt everything, to make him comfortable. It doesn’t always work though.
Children with autism … Try hard every day … That they make us proud … More than words can say
Every day is a new day. It brings new challenges, new experiences, new successes and new failures. I look back at where Geordie has been, where he is now and, with some trepidation (but also some positivity), where he is going … and I am immensely proud of what he has achieved and is achieving.