The season with autism

aerial photography of trees

It’s been a whirlwind holiday season all around. It starts for us at the beginning of December and goes until “back to school” time which is next week in our house.

In the past, we have enjoyed the holidays, sometimes more than others. In the last year our family has had some personal health challenges, in addition to the usual things we experience with autism. These challenges have made us see things in a different way, with a “new set of eyes,” if you will.

We are more appreciative of our family time, our quiet time, and just enjoying each other’s company. We get busy like every other family, but we try not to pay attention to the things that we cannot control or that we are too tired to do at the moment. This year is the first year that we didn’t rush to put up the tree. Not that we didn’t want to, but our schedules were so hectic that we decided to be kind to ourselves and do it when it was right for all of us.  This was the first year that I did not send out cards and you know what? I didn’t feel bad about it. This year was much more relaxing and enjoyable and even though we didn’t get everything done, it was perfectly fine!

Sometimes, I dread the holiday season for a couple of reasons. In school, the schedules are different. Everyone is more relaxed, which is great, but expectations and schedule changes can make it hard for a child on the spectrum to deal with and added activities can actual cause more anxiety and stress.

Our son continues to impress me with each passing day. This year was his first year of high school so there were many changes and a whole new set of people to get to know. He was in an instrumental music class learning to play the trumpet and even though he was behind his peers, I was so impressed by all of the things that he had learned and accomplished in a short time. He is a very hard worker and he has to work ten times as hard as anyone else to achieve results.

Every day, faithfully, he brought his trumpet home and practiced the songs. He did the theory and although some of it he didn’t understand (I didn’t either) because there was a lot, what he did learn was truly remarkable. Does his playing sound amazing? No, it doesn’t, but he is able to play all of the basic notes and he is learning the different techniques to make the proper sounds. I am pleasantly surprised and so very proud at what he has learned so far.

It’s funny because it’s all in the way you look at it. I don’t look or compare him to his peers or if he is off-key or not playing in sync with others. I look at what he is doing and how much he can do compared to the beginning of the year.  His music class played a couple of songs during an assembly which I was invited to before Christmas.

As I sat back and listened and watched him, I had tears in my eyes because a couple of years ago, I never imagined a scene like this one. He was with his class, playing to the best of his ability. There was noise and lots and lots of people which can sometimes bother him and he was just a true joy to watch. This time, the noises didn’t seem to bother him at all.

I know that the teacher or others will never probably realize what a huge accomplishment this was for him — how far he had come and no one at school probably truly understands what an amazing person he has become.

As I sat in the audience, I was overwhelmed with true joy and happiness. This as well as the health of our family is truly the only gift I needed this season.

I hope you are able to celebrate your child’s amazing accomplishments whatever they may be and that you experience the happy times that we can all experience no matter how big or small.

As you look back over the holidays, remember those moments when you smiled!

Finding joy even in small things is the best gift you can give yourself!


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