The Autistic Holiday Survival Guide

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Ever read a survival guide from someone who didn’t survive?

Exactly. That’s why I waited.

The holiday season is tough on people, and it feels that much tougher on The Life Autistic. 

But I made it without anything or anyone blowing up, and I hope you did too. In fact, Mrs. H2 noted that it was one of our least stressful Christmases ever. What a gift.

Here’s what worked for me (and us) this season.

Don’t overcommit. This year we didn’t travel, didn’t promise to see too many different family members, and kept our two family visits (a record low) pretty short and sweet. It was amazing. Anytime we try to make too many visits to too many people to keep them happy, it’s almost a surefire way to make me unhappy. Social fatigue sucks – it’s just better to say no until you can say ‘yes’ with your best self.

Aim small. Secret Santas, big ticket items, no Christmas Cards, pre-arranged deals, no big holiday meals — doing a “smaller number of things” was a major stress reducer this holiday. I was glad to get maybe a half-dozen gifts, if only because I didn’t feel pressured to procure a multitude of things in return.

Stay ahead of the chaos. We opened gifts slowly enough to where I could trash the wrapping paper, stash the bows, and pretty much sweep up all the holiday residue the moment it was created. Ahhhhh. 

Steer away from stressors. Know what stresses me out? Wrapping presents? Know what Amazon sells? Pre-wrapped presents. Shortness of time is a stressor, and while it added up to an extra $50 — at most — it probably bought me back hours upon hours of time. WORTH IT.

Fight for peace, then enjoy it. It is indeed poignant to grasp and reflect on the ‘peace on Earth, good will toward men’ and the true meaning of Christmas, but I did something else that sealed the deal for me. I was aggressive enough to keep our den clean after Christmas, so I decided to dump out a box of blocks and play with Mo for a while. It was a perfect little moment, one unencumbered by late-breaking events, wreckage to clean, or obligations to meet. Sometimes peace is hard-fought and hard-won, but rarely enjoyed with the same vigor by which it was gained. This time, I enjoyed it.

 

 

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