Family: Holidays Vs. Special Needs Families

It’s the first #FridayFWords, and it synced up PERFECTLY with a piece I wrote for Oklahoma City Mom’s Blog that was posted this morning.

Now listen, let’s be honest with each other:

I have to post a little teaser and then lead you to the article via a link. Why? Because I’m contractually obligated to, that’s why! I have to trust you will follow the link to read more and man, it’s hard to get people to do that many times in bloggy world. So here I say, TRUST ME. It’s funny, it’s true, and most of all, you can pass it on to your family before that big get together that’s coming up. Here we go:

Dear Grandparents, Aunts & Uncles, and The Guy Your Cousin Always Has Hanging Around But You’re Not Sure What the Deal Is:

Hi.

It’s me. Your family member with a child that has additional needs. I thought we could have a heart to heart before we drown ourselves in Christmas Cheer and ham.

Every year during the holiday season, I watch two versions of social media unfold within my special needs community. There are the public family pictures with smiles and endearing anecdotes, and then there are the behind the scenes messages in our private groups. Whatever the story and scenario, it ends with mom after mom feeling hurt and isolated by the very people who are supposed to be loving and supporting her unconditionally:  The Family.

Follow the link for the rest of the article. It includes a pretty funny picture caption. What are you waiting for?! HAPPY FRIDAY!

 

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Tuesday’s with Autism – Glow Like Rudolph

“Why am I such a misfit?”
“I am not just a nit wit”
“Just because my nose glows”
“Why don’t I fit in”

– Ruldolph (the Metaphor) Reindeer

It’s almost December and you can bet that I am sitting here with the kids watching CBS’ annual stop-motion classic, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You can also bet that I immediately thought of how the underlying message directly applies to those of us living with autism. (and oh, how I love me a good autism metaphor!)

Rudolph’s parents recognize that his red nose is different, but that he is still the bundle of reindeer they had always dreamed about. Rudolph’s mom gets to acceptance much fast than his father. Still, they want to protect him from a community that knows jack frost squat about red noses. Donner and….Mrs. Donner (that’s a whole other post *eye roll*) shy away from talking about his nose, and go as far as concealing his glow.

As plot lines go, Rudolph is found out, and a bunch of jerk reindeer peers tease him. This was made in 1964, so the adult reindeer  have absolutely no problem with calling him names and ostracizing Rudy. Finally, the ultimate, soul crushing moment for any young one – Santa tells Donner (Dad) that Rudolph isn’t good enough for his team.

Rudolph runs away with Hermie ( a misfit toy that also thinks differently than his fellow elves). As they are leaving their community, the narrator said something that struck me:

“The world looked a lot more complicated…than when they were snug and warm by the fire”

Isn’t that the damn truth?!

I mean, there’s always the running gag about not having a manual to parenthood, but when you’re initially thrown into autism you don’t even have the words for the missing manual! It can feel like you,  much like Hermie and Rudolph, are disconnected from your community, facing a cold unknown – but you have to forge on. Why? Because, what else are you going to do??

Hermie and Rudolph aren’t alone for very long. They meet Yukon Cornelius, the Abominable Snowman, and the misfit toys – they find people who each have gone off the beaten path. This new community helps the duo: they don’t judge, they offer support, and they offer their own perspective. They teach Rudolph and Hermie to embrace their abilities and to be proud of their differences.

By the end of the show, Rudolph and Hermie bring both communities together (inclusion), and Christmas is saved thanks to extra helping hands, Christmas  cheer, an elf with a penchant for dentistry, and a glowing red nose.

As we head into the holiday season, remember that there will be people who may think it’s better to hide your “shiny nose”.  To this I say, GLOW.

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