Holidays can be an extra stressful time for autism parents. We have all the regular stressors that any other family has coupled with autism-proofing decorations and presents, dealing with expectations that we show up to all the family functions and handling the stress that comes from those family functions like trying not to blow our top at the stares, the patronizing tones, the judgment, the pity and of course keeping all of the breakable keepsakes that have been handed down for generations that are seemingly kept on every low surface imaginable in one piece. Dare I mention the terror of a “Code Brown” at somebody else’s home?
Since the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would supply all of my fellow autism parents out there a simple form letter that you can send to your relatives who don’t get why it is you may prefer to stay at home as opposed to going to a loud house crammed with extended family.
Disclaimer: To MY immediate family. Thank you for being so great. This is not about you, but meant as satire for the scores of autism families that are not as fortunate as we are to have the support system we do… so Cyndi… relax.We love you and Bianca ADORES her nina. LOL
Dear <Insert host family member name here>,
Thank you so much for the invitation to the <holiday> party! Unfortunately, we will not be able to attend. It isn't that we wouldn't like to be there, but it would be very difficult to relax because my kid(s) is/are not accustomed to your home. We have spent years figuring out how to “autism-proof” our home, something that just isn't fair to expect of others to be able to do overnight.
I know you will say that family will help watch, that it isn't a big deal and that we should not worry about it, but it is a big deal and no matter how much experience people may have watching kids that are not autistic, I can promise you that it will not be enough to understand how carefully you have to watch <insert kid(s) name here>. Little things like leaving an unlocked door to the outside unguarded for a few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
It is too bad though, because <significant other> and I love going to your house and admiring how pristine you keep your lily white carpet. By the way, how many generations did you say those plates were in your family? They look as good as new! We particularly like to marvel at the 10 coffee tables loaded with those glass trinkets. Also, it is very comforting knowing that <insert dead relative> is right there on lower shelf of that bookcase watching over the family as we get together.
<Family member> loves all the artwork and family photos you guys have on your walls. That gorgeous wallpaper is something to behold and in some of your rooms, the walls are so white that I can’t tell where your carpet starts and where the walls begin.
What we will REALLY miss though is that lovely tomato based dish that gets served every time the family gets together and the countless number of glasses full of various colored beverages that people leave unattended… to say the least of the cutlery! How do you get knives THAT sharp? Catching up on all the gossip in the kitchen full of scalding hot pots and open flames is always a favorite of <family member>.
Will you guys have the tree up already again? All of those glass ornaments with all that meaning behind them. I can’t believe how ornate that tree can get. It is almost like just walking past it you can knock down an ornament, yet there they are… hanging on by a thread. I suppose that is why there is the mountain of neatly wrapped presents under the tree begging to be opened. It helps to keep people at a bit of a distance.
I guess we will just have to miss out on all the great parenting advice that <oldest member of the family> dishes out every year! I will never forget when he/she told <mom’s name> how all <insert kid(s) name> needed was some good discipline and that <mom’s name> should stay home more often. That is the kind of advice you just can’t pay for.
I guess we will have to wait until next year. Thank you again so much for the invitation, I guess we are just going to have a small quiet <insert holiday> celebration with kids.
<Insert name here>
<Insert name here>
PS: Please say hello to <Drunk, loud, not-funny, racist relative> for us!
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