“Is it Christmas yet?”
That’s the question my 7-year-old son Norrin has asked every day, since the day after Thanksgiving.
Autism or not, Norrin, like any other kid his age, is excited about Christmas. Maybe even more so because every year, he discovers a little bit more of the magic.
For Thanksgiving I had my family over for dinner and I prepared Norrin as much as I could. But it was a lot for him. He’s not used to having so many people in our small apartment. I could tell he was overstimulated.
The Military Special Needs Network put together an amazing Holiday Guide for special needs families. It’s so much more than a gift guide. It includes tips to manage parent stress and help kids through sensory overload, as well as easy crafts and recipes. It’s a must-read for everyone who has a special needs child in their life.
Part of the Christmas excitement is the build up. This is the first time in years that I haven’t had to worry about college finals or papers. I can really enjoy this time of year with him. Click through to see how I’m helping my son count down the days until Christmas.
This Really Worked for Us Last Year… 1 of 9
We keep a calendar in his room. Every time Norrin asks if it's Christmas (every day), we walk to the calendar. Christmas Day is circled. We cross out the current day and count the days until Christmas. This also helps with his days of the week, counting, and fine motor skills.
So We’re Going with What Works 2 of 9
I thought about going with an Advent Calendar this year but decided against it. I printed out this cute (free) calendar and we're doing the same thing as last year. Talking about the days of the week helps.
"Elfie" 3 of 9
Yes, I'm an "Elf on the Shelf" mom. But this is about as creative as I get. Norrin - my little literal thinker - really just wants him on a shelf. I know many parents don't like Elf on the Shelf. But I really love him and it helps build up to the holiday excitement. It's our little morning game.
Christmas Bedtime Stories 4 of 9
I love reading to Norrin at night and this time of year, I pull out our favorite holiday classics. Every year, I buy a new hardcover book (I love ones that come with a CD too) for Norrin. And on Christmas Eve we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. These little traditions make our holiday special.
Available at Barnes & Noble
Putting Up Our Holiday Decorations 5 of 9
We live in a small apartment and we have no control over our heat. In the winter, our apartment is so hot - we all walk around in shorts and tank tops. Since we get a real tree, we usually set up our tree a few days before Christmas so that it doesn't die. But I still like to put up little decorations here and there to get us in the spirit.
We Walk Around the Neighborhood 6 of 9
Our neighborhood sets up a little winter wonderland in the park. At night it's all lit up and looks so pretty. They have Santa's house and at certain times you can have your photo taken with him. They even have a mailbox where you can drop your letters to Santa Claus.
We Went to See a Holiday Movie 7 of 9
It's really cold in New York and it's the perfect time to catch a good movie. We finally went to see Frozen - absolutely a great, family-friendly film for this time of year! I was so proud of Norrin, he did such a good job and sat through the whole thing.
His First Letter to Santa 8 of 9
Norrin knows that Santa is the guy that brings the presents and we've been doing a lot of talking about him. I asked Norrin if he wanted to write a letter and he said yes! And it was so wonderful to see him write out his letter. He was so proud and excited to mail it.
His Wishlist 9 of 9
Seeing Norrin's first letter to Santa gave me the biggest smile. There was a time when Norrin couldn't even hold a pencil…now he's writing sentences. And I'm also happy that I've been able to find most of the things he's asked for.
With fifteen days left until Christmas, I really want to create special holiday memories. We have a fun Christmas party planned for next week where there will be a “Sensitive Santa.” We’re having friends over for a tree trimming party and I’ll make peppermint hot chocolate and cupcakes. I want to take Norrin to the Holiday Train show at the New York Botanical Gardens. I want this Christmas to be one that he remembers for years to come.
Catch up with more of Lisa’s recent Babble posts:
- How My Husband and I Do Date Night During the Holidays
- Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids with Autism
- 10 Tips to Taking Your Special Needs Child to the Movies
- A Santa Claus for Kids with Autism
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.