A family's story

System Overload

The holidays are upon us. This week we celebrate Thanksgiving…and for the next 5 weeks we have the seemingly never-ending barrage of Christmas festivities. Plus we threw in a vacation….to Disney World. (€re we gluttons for punishment?!)

Many people look forward to all of the excitement and revelry. For me, for our family?? It’s a mixed bag…we love the idea of spending time with others, throwing schedules to the wind, eating foods we typically don’t serve, and the excitement. But it takes a lot to make it through these weeks with our sanity intact.

Anyone with children knows that holiday celebrations are a bit taxing…Throw in a child with Autism…and sensory processing disorder, and you get a major system overload!  Spending time with others? Well, yes…but it becomes a strategy game. Analyzing Tate’s behavior, gauging when it’s time to “say when”. Keeping one step ahead of him..paying attention to his eyes glazing over, staring at ceiling fans…dealing with his insistence to play with the kitchen sink while his brothers and cousins play games in the next room. Redirection. Letting him stim with a pencil, spatula, or butter knife for 5 minutes so he can move forward with the rest of the day. And doing all of this while juggling Jake’s requests for approval and Cole’s antics…

Throwing schedules to the wind used to be glorious. And while I still try to enjoy the lack of appointments and activities to run to, abandoning our routines and schedules in favor of 3 days at grandma & papa’s house, with 11 people and 2 dogs, has me feeling a fraction of Tate’s anxiety. I am always anticipating the next meltdown…intervening and talking Tate through the loose plans for the end of the week. Writing lists of things to pack so we are ready for the down time…trying to come up with some at-home therapies to use when Tate is starting to come undone…

Oh, and the food. My mother-in-law is a great cook. She makes the most delicious turkey and sides. She uses real butter and cream and full-fat cheese. It’s heavenly…but for my picky eaters? *sigh* not so much. And guaranteed, we’ll have at least one incidence of gagging and puking. At.least.one.

Probably the most difficult thing to deal with is Tate’s excitement. He looks forward to seeing his grandparents. He loves his cousins…especially our nephew. He likes the flurry of activity…the busy-ness of it all. But, while he is excited, he still hasn’t mastered coping mechanisms for when things get too loud, too busy, too much. His anxiety ramps up, he starts to lose control, he melts down…and holiday tantrums have a whole life of their own.

This year he has made such progress. Between therapy, medication, and maturity, he has become a different kid. I hope beyond hope that these strides help carry us through the next 5 weeks…or this momma may need a complete system reboot starting on January 1st….


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