Last year everyone saw their holidays changed by the pandemic.

Maybe yours was a quiet one, like ours or maybe it was more of they typical one of pre pandemic years.

Whatever the case, it was probably more different than typical. Now enter into this holiday season. Holiday season number 2 in a pandemic.

What does that mean to you and your special needs child? By that I mean how have you been going about explaining it to your child with special needs? I ask this because I just had this conversation with Elizabeth. It all began because after many phone calls to our various family members, many with serious health issues, who said they would all love to be together but feel just a bit not quite ready.

So our Thanksgiving will be a quiet one. Not the one with 21 people.

So Elizabeth wanted to know what we were doing.

E: So are we having a big party for Thanksgiving?

M: No, not this year because of the…

E: (interrupted me) virus…right?

M: Yes, I mean we could have had a party, but it is just better for everyone if we keep it quiet and just us. And we will make is really wonderful, like we did last year.

E: So there won’t be alot of people?

M: No, just us but Easter will be the party, I hope

E: So I don’t have to worry about it being loud or crowded?

M: No, it will be quiet.

E: That sounds good, just us.

And there it is, the relief Elizabeth feels when she won’t maybe have to work hard to be okay in situations that she finds challenging. I am happy my kids are good with everything being just us, so grateful actually but like anything else with Elizabeth unless she does it often or at least frequently, things can be rusty or challenging for her. And I am afraid, this holds true to how she will react/feel/cope with a large gathering.

I think judging from her words above that it will be challenging and something we will have to talk through a few ( think, many) times before we get to the date of the aforementioned get together.

This brings me to another point and that is how best to help our children understand the changes this holiday season may bring. If you are having family over, what do you want your child to know will happen. how can you help them cope with the sensory input they will have during that time?

If you are headed somewhere else have you communicated with your child in the way they best understand, what they can expect? What things to bring to help them cope? What food to bring in case green bean casserole makes your child cry (actually had it happen to someone in our family) Maybe they will have to wear a mask a bit with certain family?

Anyway, the whole take away of this is that last year was a bit more cut and dry and this year not so much. So as much as we are figuring it out our special needs children are as well and like most things in their lives, it can be harder for them.

Just some thoughts as there is still time to handle the communication with your child to make the Thanksgiving 2021 as calm, enjoyable and memory making as possible.

I wish everyone a peaceful week. Please wear a mask and if you haven’t, get vaccinated.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself.