It is a common question these days.

It is asked in almost every conversation.

” Are y’all ready for the holidays?”

It is usually asked in a casual manner, not unlike when someone asks how you are doing and you answer “fine” because it is expected ( and if you really answered it, you would need them to take a seat, get a snack and settle on in)

So even though it is a quick question, for me, it holds more weight.

I think this is because of my daughter with special needs.  She has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Global Dyspraxia.  And these disorders affect her life each and every day.  In different ways, forms, and intensity as she has grown older. But they are still there.

So when someone asks that question, I think,  Am I ready?

So here are a few things I do to help get ready for a really busy time.

I talk to those family members and friends who will be with her a lot

I did not always do this.  I thought I could just get through the event or dinner myself.  Maybe because I did not know if they would believe me or give credit to what I was saying.  And maybe because I thought I could handle it all.  But whatever the reason, I am here to say that that mindset does NOT work well at all.  The needs of your child will be there and may be magnified by the change in food, sounds, faces and schedules.  So talking about your child’s needs is a huge help.  Telling these same people, how the disorders many show themselves helps too as does telling them what you might need to do to help your child if they are anxious or having a meltdown.   This takes away the need for you to talk and explain as you are trying to help your child.  Been there.  Done that.  Do not wish to do it again.

I talk to Elizabeth about her schedule and write it down

I may not have written it down years ago. But now we do. Together.  And we talk many times about what to expect, who she will see, what time we will go.  And most importantly, and if you know Elizabeth, you would agree,  what food there will be and what food she can pack herself.  Any and all things that you can tell your special needs child will help them as they can prepare themselves for transitions and anticipate what will happen next.

I have learned it is okay to say no to something

This is hard because the holidays are like fun on steroids.  So much you can do, see and experience.  But as I have learned early on in this journey with Elizabeth is that more is not always better.  There is a limit that our children have and recognizing it and respecting it is critical.  I learned that the hard way and I still do not like to talk about the Christmas tree walk we took a few years ago.  But I digress,  but in my opinion it is so much better to fully enjoy one good thing than push through four.

Make memories

I know this one sounds like a no brainer.  But the truth is, we are all hit with pictures and movies showing the ideal and perfect Christmas.  I have learned that, in our world, we celebrate all the successes and good things that happen in our family’s life.  Are we perfect? Is our Christmas worthy of a Hallmark movie?  Absolutely No.  But it is ours.  It is our way and it makes our hearts happy.  So we make memories our way. Those who have a special needs child in their lives will completely get this point.   So make as many memories as you can and tuck them away in your heart.

The above things all still fit into my plan to “Get Ready”

I wish everyone a peaceful week

Michele Gianetti  author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister