This Holiday Season I See You, My Autistic Son

The snow, the decorations, the family. I know you love it all with every fiber of your being. 

Sometimes, as I explain to others how hard the holidays are for you, I listen to my own words and I know that it sounds like you can’t stand this time of year. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

You love it. You love it so much that it engulfs you. It becomes too much. 

You need the ever constant rhythm of your life and you want to step outside of it to celebrate, but it’s hard.  

You want to be around everyone for the big dinners and the fun but you hide from them. But don’t worry, if you want I’ll hide with you. Laying you down and rubbing your back on someone else’s bed has become our own little tradition.

You love seeing the wrapped gifts under the tree but can’t understand why we have to unwrap them. 

That’s okay. I can hear it now; I can hear the higher volume of each voice as it claws over the others, I can hear the wrapping paper tear and several people calling your name. It’s so confusing and loud.

And I can feel it too; How the pressure of everyone watching you open gifts is suffocating, how you can’t understand that people expect you to react to each item, and then how it almost becomes a competition to win your smile.   

So I sit with you in the corner. One on one. Creating our own bubble amongst the mayhem. 

But throughout the season I see all the things you love so much;

Like the Snow. 

When we get that first heavy snow with the big flakes, you and I go stand outside and watch them fall. We stare up and watch as each one of them hits our faces. You jump for joy and then become completely relaxed. A calm I rarely see. A peace of sorts. It’s your heaven on earth. 

And then the decorations.

You love decorations, especially the big tacky ones I can’t stand. You know where all the inflatables are in the neighborhood. I’ve even gone against every fiber of my being and put them in our yard. You stare out the window and look at all the beautiful lights on people’s houses. Wherever we go we search out the lights and decorations. My favorite way to see them is in the reflection of your eyes, where they sit content, and I know that equals joy.

Then being with family.

I know they can’t tell, but you love having your family together. In your logical mind it’s a must. We see family on the holidays. You love seeing everyone else’s excitement.  You come to me to point out who’s there, whether or not you dare to greet most of them. You hide in your room and run out every so often to check who’s there. When you and I go back alone I can see you stimming and smiling. So happy people are there enjoying the holiday.

As you grow, I want to thank you for trying. Trying for me. Trying for us. I see you come out more often. I see you playing with cousins for as long as you can.
 

I see you stay the whole time during the gift opening because you know I want to be there to watch your sister. I see you have a hard time at night. The long day reels through your mind. As you script and loop. I know you don’t just do it for me or anyone else. I know you want to be there and it takes every fiber of your being.

Just know you are never on your own. I see it all. I see you and I am always watching to help you through it all.

As I help you through, I want to thank you for helping me too. Helping me see the holidays so differently. Helping me see that all the decorations are beautiful. Helping me find the peace in the snow. Helping see that it’s fun just to lay underneath the tree and look up at all the lights and all the branches. To help me feel and appreciate every ornament. To sit in the dark by the tree and watch a train go around and around. 

To take a step back and see the beauty in all the small things. To see that holidays are made up of a million little things and to take it in, one piece at a time. 

Thank you.

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