In our community there is one house that is the very epitome of Christmas lights. It is tasteful but loaded with colors.

It is festive but not overdone and the best thing is…

 

he has the display timed to move to the music from a certain radio station. So as you hear the lyrics of “Dancing around the Christmas tree.” You can see the decorations moving and grooving.

So many cars line up to see this house that this year the decorations now spread to neighbors on either side of him down the street.

Elizabeth loves this house.

In fact she just asked to go there tonight. To quote her “Let’s go see the Christmas lights and get some ice cream, sound good to you?”

 

Hearing her request made me think about Christmas time and its many activities.

Some are so easy to go to and some would simply set Elizabeth’s Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) over the edge.

 

Hunt in the newspaper and you will find many fun offerings. There are Christmas walks to take, hot chocolate to make and Holiday movies to watch. There are parties to go to, family to see and activities that are available. So many opportunities to make memories.

The trick is to find which ones you want to go to.

 

Then taking a moment to do few things.

The first thing I usually do is to quiet the voice in my head that says “YES!!!!, we are so going to do this!”

And then see the event through “SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) eyes”. Meaning, taking a good, true look at all that is involved with the event and thinking how those very things will affect your special needs child. Because what affects one child may not affect another and so on.

 

For example, we have a wonderful park in our town and it hosts an “Old Thyme Christmas” event. It takes place in an old mill, complete with inside and outside craft and food vendors, Santa and actual chestnuts on the fire. Sounds great, right?

Well, most of it. Because when we went the first time, I was unaware that the mill would be rather dark.

I found it to be cozy but Elizabeth did not share my thoughts and said it was too dark for her. And she was not really able to relax and enjoy it until we went outside and then she had a nice time. So although it all worked out. I did learn a lesson here as well and yep, I am still learning.

 I share this story because even 20 years in on this journey, I am still learning.

What I learned was to go online to read more about the event, then looking at any videos and photos that are available, and then taking Elizabeth on a virtual visit to let her get a visual on the event. She likes doing this, and I like that she will know what she is going to and she can ask any questions.

This has proven to be helpful for times when she was going to see a Christmas show with the school.

It is the kind of show that encourages audience participation. You know, singing and clapping.

So I was sure she would love it and to help it along a bit. We went on their website and 

Elizabeth and I got to see clips of the older shows. This worked out so well because she was then truly anxiety free and could enjoy the show minus any Sensory Processing Disorder concerns.

Know their sensory needs change. To kind of dovetail to the first thoughts I shared, I am still learning because Elizabeth is always growing and changing. I need to keep learning what her needs are because they are always changing.

Like taking holiday pictures, years ago, Elizabeth was literally camera-phobic. Her SPD and special needs really affected her whenever she saw someone take out a camera or hold up a cell phone to take a picture. So she could be happily opening up a gift, look up to see someone trying to capture a memory and then get anxious. We were not sure why this happened and nor, was she really able to tell us why other than it made her “nervous”

But now, just a couple years later, hold up a camera or cell phone and she poses like a model. Actually photo bombing several shots of her siblings. What happened? I do not know.

Was it sensory related? I have to think yes.

Was it something we could have helped? Maybe, but maybe not.

So we worked around it. By recognizing her current needs and letting others know about it.

And that brings me to the final thought.

Let others know.

I know I have said this before, but letting others know about your child and their special needs is so very helpful. It makes everyone on the same team. You do not have to feel like you need to cover for anything that goes less than perfect. Or to have to explain what is going on, in the middle of a crisis.

And by doing it, you are recognizing your beautiful child for the person that they are. They have special needs, but they are amazing individuals.

I love WHO Elizabeth is. I love her and I want her to have the fun and memories that others get.

So it is with that hope that some of my thoughts can help you and your special needs child make some great memories.

Elizabeth and I are headed out the door today to go do some Christmas shopping together. It is a bit snowy and feeling like Christmas. We talked about and planned our day together. I did the things I know to do and I am feeling blessed to hang out with her today.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele

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