If you have a Twice Exceptional child, you know the holidays can be rough. Here’s how to survive – and enjoy – the holidays with a 2E.
I’m thinking about resigning.
No mom-ing. No homeschooling. No writing or working with students.
Just me, a tub of ice cream, and my big fluffy bathrobe until March.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy this time of year. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (Pies! Stuffing! And did I mention pies?!), and Christmas comes a close second (The birth of Christ! Also, more pies!). But the season wreaks havoc on my children for months. Picking up the pieces is about as pleasant as slogging through a blizzard barefoot, uphill both ways.
The holiday season is not routine.
The holiday season is change. It’s activity. It’s sugar (oh my, is it sugar….). It’s late nights and early mornings. It’s gigantic family gatherings and gratuitous overstimulation. It’s unfamiliar, unnaturally large men in red and white suits.
I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.
But I will not go gentle into that good night. This year, I have a plan to help us survive (and enjoy) the holiday season, with all our faculties and family members intact.
I’m going to keep a consistent routine
And yes, that means continuing with school. I’ll keep the emphasis on play-based learning with authentic reading and writing activities. But there will be a designated part of the day for school-related business, nestled within a close to normal daily schedule. The children depend on it, and so does my sanity.
Speaking of my sanity,
I’m going to be proactive, not reactive
90% of success with a 2E is preparation, whether you have a child on the Autism Spectrum or with some other learning difference. In my children’s case, life moves more smoothly if expectation and reality don’t diverge. I can’t prevent this from happening every time. What I can do, though, is talk about events and gatherings before we walk out the door. We’ll review where we’re going, what the environment will be like, and the type of behavior expected at each event. This way, the children can develop realistic expectations that are less likely to break from reality.
But just in case,
I’m going to have a back-up plan
Art supplies. Books. Puzzles. Busy bags. Anything I can haul that will give my kids an out? It’s coming. I’ll also pack sensory-soothing tools, from iPods and headphones to stuffed animals and blankets; from silly putty and playdoh to gum and chewy gems. The girls can tuck smaller items in book bags or satchels while I toss bigger tools in a reusable shopping bag. We’ll save on storage space but still have access to what we need, when we need it.
And because my husband and I shouldn’t have to shoulder this alone,
I’m going to get support
Most of our family members already know our children’s needs. Still, it’s important to reiterate once a year the need for understanding. This especially rings true for my eldest’s food choices: as a selective eater, she’s very particular about the foods she will tolerate. A gentle reminder of “each person eats what he or she likes, without comment” goes a long way, as does practice with an appropriate response (“Thank you, but I know what I like. I can help myself”). I also plan to let family know it’s okay to leave the eldest on her own. She knows when she needs space and will return when she is ready.
Ultimately, my survival plan is as much for the kids as it is for me. I want them to keep their focus on gratitude and the birth of Christ, not on executive functioning and coping skills. I want them to feel settled.
I don’t really want to resign, nor do I want my children to survive the holiday season.
I want us all to thrive, and I know good planning will get us there.
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