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.

Something for The Unseen Mom

Disclosure: This is a partnership with, and has been compensated, by The Pampered Parent, LLC. All opinions are mine alone.

Through our journey into the autism world over the past few years, I have met some incredible moms. Not only moms of autistic children but a myriad of disabilities. No matter who they are or where they come from, I find an instant camaraderie with them. Some of them have struggles we don’t, and have been tested in ways I couldn’t imagine, but there’s always a basis of understanding.

In these moments, I often find a commonality with these amazing women. They feel unseen. Parents are often told what our kid wants or needs and criticized for not knowing all the facts we’ve never been given. It’s like running on a treadmill while juggling everything and then getting told you’re doing great but all wrong.

I am so grateful for every therapist, teacher and caseworker who has worked with us and my son over the past few years. My son is only six years old and there have been many people in and out of our lives, but I will say that every so often you find an extra amazing gem. Someone who sees your child as an individual, someone who sees how hard we as the parents are trying. 

This is why I love the Pampered Parent. It was started by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who truly saw the parents and how much they do. Their website says, “These parents do it all. They go from work to the grocery store to taking their child to and from therapy, getting home just in time for bed. They tend to take care of everyone else, often putting themselves last.”

  The Pampered Parent is a subscription box for mothers of special needs children. A little something just for them. Each box includes fun and motivational items; like a shirt, tote or tumbler. And my favorite part is the inclusion of at least one item from a special needs run company, or a company that employs special needs individuals.

Another amazing part of The Pampered Parent is that they see the need to support special needs adults in our society. The founder, Lindsey, writes, 

“My ultimate goal is to provide employment opportunities to individuals with special needs.”

As the parent of a special needs child, who I hope someday can have a job, companies like The Pampered Parent give me hope. Hope for a happy and fulfilling future for my son. 

This is why the podcast I co-host, Table for Five No Reservations, specifically reached out to The Pampered Parent. This is an amazing company that we are proud to support and so excited to spread the news about them.

Check them out at

Use code TABLEFORFIVE for 15% off your order. 

Like my Son, I was an IEP Kid

Today I cried on the way home from dropping my six year old son off at his autism therapy center. Last week, we found out that his morning therapist would be replaced.

We love her. She’s been Johnny’s therapist since we started there almost a year ago. Over the past year they have developed a beautiful bound. Johnny will run up and hug her the moment he sees her.

The sadness really hit me today, as he started with a new therapist. Once we entered, Johnny immediately looked out the window searching for his old therapist, with the sweetest look of excited anticipation in his eyes. I explained again that he would still see her around but now he had a new therapist. I could tell he did not fully understand. That look out the window just about broke my heart.

They do this every so often, switching therapists to make sure he is able to grow with different people, and also because there is a high turnover rate. I understand the process and as much as I loved this therapist, I realize it is probably (hopefully) for his good.

The part that truly makes me sad, is how at the age of six my son has already had so many different teachers, therapists and doctors. He has already been through many evaluations and observations. In the fall we will reenter the public school system and be given a new IEP and yet another new team of helpers.

Of course we are forever grateful for all these helpers. He needs the help and we want that for him, but it’s also a lot for a little kid.

I know because I was an IEP kid. I was on an IEP for a reading and writing disability until the 7th grade.

I remember being pulled out of class, for special education class, everyday in elementary school.

I recall groups of adults meeting about me. Sometimes with me, sometimes without – and sometimes talking about me right in front of me, like I wasn’t even there.

I was often being watched and evaluated by teachers and therapists, who I barely knew. And sometimes by adults that I didn’t know at all.

I often felt the expectation to show them everything I knew in that short amount of time. The pressure and my shyness did not often allow for it. I felt like I was missing out on what the rest of my class was doing while me and a few others were away from the room.

I will say I was very fortunate, that I was rarely bullied for not being as smart as everyone else. I would have teachers and therapists try different things in the regular classroom: writing boards, different pencil grips, little typing computers and devices. Other kids always said it was so cool that I got to try those things.

But I honestly don’t know if it was said out of pity or genuine kindness and intrigue. Maybe they felt bad seeing me constantly watched, often right over my shoulder. Maybe they thought nothing of it. I am so grateful for all the help I received.

I remember the day I was called out of class and entered a room in my middle school, one that I didn’t even know existed. As I entered I was surprised to see my parents, all my teachers and a few strangers.

I had no idea this meeting was taking place. Smiles filled the room as I walked in, but I felt very uncomfortable. All I could think was “why is this happening?” “Why is it me and all of these adults?” “How long have they been talking about me?” I’m sure it was said but I don’t remember anyone saying that it was an IEP meeting. It was my last IEP meeting.

I had made it.

I had achieved just average.The IEP wasn’t the end of it. I was in remedial english classes through the 9th grade, until once again in 10th grade I was put into the regular ol’ english class.

I clearly remember those moments because it felt so good to be average. I needed nothing more than to just be good enough for regular. To not stick out in a “bad” way. I do want to say I am unbelievably grateful for all those who helped and taught me throughout my education.

I remember my elementary special ed teacher the most of any teacher I had, because she saw me for me. On the other hand It would be a complete lie if I said I was not still affected by all of it.

The “Individualized” part of an IEP is amazing, but it can also be isolating. I was always being talked about. I know it probably wasn’t true, but I always felt like a problem. I was a problem dozens of grown ups were trying to solve.

I think about all of this with my son. He has so much more to deal with than I ever did. He always has a team of people in and out while his peers have one main teacher each year.He is always being watched and even I am guilty of talking about him as if he can not hear.

I don’t want him to ever think he is not good enough because he needs more help. Still to this day my disability is part of me. I am proud of how far I have come, but at the same time I feel like I never caught up. It’s an insecurity that I do not think I’ll ever overcome.

If anyone ever tells me I am good at anything involving reading or writing, I’m shocked. All my endeavors are to be good enough to be average. I will never feel like one of the smartest people in the room.

I think one of the hardest parts of Johnny’s diagnosis was feeling like it was my fault. Not only did I pass on my learning disabilities but I know that my child will likely always feel this way. The way I feel and felt as an IEP kid.

I don’t want to project all my feelings onto my son. He is an individual. He may not care. He may find a greater fight in himself to achieve greatness. I just hope I can do everything possible to ensure that he does feel like any less of a person and make good decisions for him.

Today my heart is sad that Johnny has a new therapist. Part of me wants to trust the system and know this will be good for him. The other part of me questioned just about everything, as I watched my son walk off with his new therapist and then cried my way home.

I’ll Sit With You In The Dark

It was 3 am. White noise screamed in my ears. Besides the small glaring red light of a baby monitor I was engulfed in darkness.

My body was so tired my bones ached. All this as I held onto a small tiny human praying for him to sleep.

The five hours before I had been in and out of 20 to 45 minute chunks of sleep, on the nursery floor, in the rocking chair, or my bed, always just long enough for it to be painful to wake to the cries and I would will my body to get up again. I’d just wonder why my 6 month old baby hated everything at night; sleep, his bed and possibly even me. 

I was on the edge. The days I would recoup, but when night came the dark crept in.

Five months old.

We were past the newborn stage, I had read so many sleep training books and had tried it all. Breastfeeding was a struggle so I couldn’t even rely on it.

I was six months into parenting and already failing. My only hope was that it wouldn’t last forever. I held onto everyone’s words “he will eventually sleep”.

I was so tired.

The thing is that the sleepless nights continued, for weeks, then months, and then years. Although, he always would sleep just enough that it wasn’t as much of a concern to others, but then other things were getting harder. There was lack of communication, meltdowns, harm, self harm, and silence. I was so lost.

Happy moments were in-between the hard. Beautiful and happy moments that I treasured and still do. He found his love for water, music and tickles. He was a sweet and amazing boy. Some days there were things I couldn’t understand; a slow progress and lack of adjustment to everything. 

The typical didn’t come. I had been around children my whole life, and cared for many. I would think “why am I such a bad mother, I should be good at this”. The nights continued to be a dark a lonely place. Even as my husband helped, I would sit in the next room and cry. 

The days home alone with my toddler were lonely too. I would lose my cool and than hate myself for it.

We couldn’t live the life I thought we’d live. We couldn’t go many places and when we did, all I could do was assess the differences between us and everyone else. No one really seemed to understand, which made it all the more lonely. 

Now time has passed and we’re in a much better place. Sleep is not perfect but much improved, communication has grown, and most importantly I understand and know why my child is the way he is. He takes in the world differently, he thinks differently than me, but my goodness it can still be really hard.

Now the progress and behaviors come in waves and many times I pray alone for calm and patience. 

Sitting outside a restaurant while everyone else eats.

The greatest resource I have now is other moms in my life who travel a similar path. This last year I’ve met amazing women. With them, I can just say we had a hard night or day and they automatically understand.

These are people I probably wouldn’t know or relate to in many other ways but are now my best friends, my hope, my shoulder to cry on.  I have friends who I know are a phone call away. Some whom I listen to chat away in my ear buds while I sit alone, in the dark, willing a six year old boy to fall asleep. 

If you’re a parent of a special needs child and you find yourself in the dark literally or figuratively, know I that I understand you. Know you can reach out. I’ll cry with you. I’ll listen to you. “I’ll sit with you in the dark.” If not me, find someone who will. It will save you.

You and Me, Kid

To my Johnny,

I can see it now; The chaos, the fear, the love, the moment you entered the world.

It was 10:31pm and the room was full. Nurses and staff running about, Dad, Grammy and your Aunt Shauna cheering with joy, machines beeping and a baby crying.

In a strangely unceremonious way you were laid down on my chest facing away from me, curled up in the only position you had ever known. I remember trying to ask if I could see your face and it going unheard. I felt like we were the center of attention but ignored all at the same time.

In a way you were a stranger to me, but also part of me. A bizarre feeling. I remember, more than anything, feeling for you and wanting to protect you but afraid of doing something wrong. You were so small and fragile, I almost wanted to panic.

I was now responsible for another life, for a whole human being. The previous worries about the right name, crib, location, etc all seemed silly and rightfully trivial. 

Almost exactly 24 hours later, late at night. You and I sat in a different hospital bed and dad was asleep on the other side of the small room. I had just finished nursing you and you were wide awake. This was the moment. You and I one on one for the first time, the moment I fell in love.

It sounds cheesy and made up, but I swear in that very moment while staring at each other it began to snow. I have always loved the snow, especially at night. As I turned my head and watched it gently fall past the parking lot lights, I felt the most beautiful feeling of peace and love. It sealed the deal that you were mine and I was yours, for the long haul. 

Now here we are at six. So much has changed. You are your own person and I am your person.  The element of autism has defined our life. It’s a part of you. It makes you beautifully unique, but also so much more complicated.

Some days I feel like it comes between us and other days it strengthens our bond. The thing about you being autistic is that it’s changed everything about what I thought parenting would be. It’s changed me for the better and more importantly you’ve made me better. 

We have meltdowns, speech barriers and delays. Our world has become evaluations, IEP meetings, explanations and appointments. So many appointments.

I constantly worry for you. Worry you will get hurt, lost, bullied or scared. I worry most about your future.

I’m so scared for what’s to come in your life. Some days I feel like we’ve walked through fire and I want to give up and scream “why?!”. There are times I actually do… but each time I learn. I learn more about you and how to help. I see you and how much harder life is for you than other kids. I know how hard you fight. 

I love you more than I ever knew I could. When you laid on my chest as a brand new baby, I felt unworthy. I couldn’t immediately connect and it wasn’t how I had imagined. It took a little bit of time just like everything else in our life.

All these years later, at the end of a meltdown, a hard day, a day full of no’s and can’ts, I know you and I can take it back to one. You and me kid.

I hold you in my arms and we look into each other’s eyes. Then I remember the promise I made that snowy day in a hospital bed to the one day old baby I just fell in love with. You are mine and I am yours, forever. 

I love you.


Worry vs Wonder

Oh to wonder. I miss it.

It’s a little over a year since my six year old son, Johnny, was diagnosed with autism and I can’t even imagine wondering about his future.

From the beginning of pregnancy up until age two I wondered a lot. Who’d he be, where life would take, everything a parent does. At two, the word autism was first brought up in association with him and it stifled my ability to wonder about the future, and now I live in the realm of worry.

When diagnosis was official and I would open up to friends with typical children about my worries about Johnny with bullying, friendships, puberty, etc I would often hear something like “I worry about that for my child too”. They always said it with kind intentions, but it stung. Yes, they do have those worries, but they also get to wonder about so many things to come.

They get to wonder about who their child’s friends will be. I worry my child will never know true friendship.

They get to wonder about how they will discuss bullies with their child. I worry my child will never be able to tell he’s being bullied.

They get to wonder about handling puberty. I worry that puberty will break us.

They get to wonder about their child being old enough to drive. I worry my child will never get to do things like drive.

They get to wonder about their child dating and going to prom and other events. I worry my child will never find a partner in life.

They get to wonder about college and jobs. I worry everyday about what resources my son will have after high school.

They get to wonder about their child’s first home. I worry if something happens to me, mine will end up in a group home.

They get to wonder about grandchildren and what’s to come. I worry about finding a way to financially support my son for his entire life.

As we grow I know the wonder will come. It won’t be the same as parents with typical children, but we will get to wonder. For now I live in the present because the future is too much to bear. For now I’ll hope for wonder.

Football and Half an Apple

By Isaac J. Ramos

I love football. I don’t remember ever not loving football. I can’t tell you when that love started because it has always been part of my life.  Growing up, Sundays consisted of going to church, making a great Sunday dinner, getting together with family and watching the Denver Broncos. One of my favorite memories of my Dad is running back and forth throughout the house while he threw me passes.

  My love for football has grown and changed over the years. Like any dad, I hope that I can share my passions with my children. I pray that they may have some interest and engagement with the things I love. I’ve been lucky in that my children have engaged with some things I love, like star wars, pasta and giving my wife, Jaime, a hard time.  

Hollywood Studios 2019

Interest and engagement with Johnny is always at the extreme. There are times when he loves something and the next day he might have only a passing interest in it. I have tried playing catch, which he will do for a small period and time. We have played “tackle football” but it mostly just turns into him jumping on me instead of running with the ball.

Most Sundays, Johnny will attempt to watch TV with me, realize I’m watching football, and move on to other things he enjoys more. If I had to guess, I don’t think this experience would be different for any other kid in his age range.  However, there have been multiple times this year where he has actively watched a game with me. It tends to work best when combined with one of his passions…apples.

Alright, maybe passion is too strong of a word but this kid does love apples. He eats at least one a day and there are plenty of days where he will eat 3-4 if we let him.  However, there are a lot of times where all he eats is half an apple. I did not realize that one of the great “joys” of being Johnny’s dad would be discovering all the places where I might find half an apple.  Oh look, I just found a half-eaten apple in the couch, under the bed, and in my sock drawer? Sometimes I laugh and other times I just shake my head. The joys of parenting.

On a couple of occasions during football season, Johnny would come sit on my lap and eat his apple. I would hear the crunch of the apple as he began to dig in. He would watch the game as he munched away. He might laugh when there is a big hit or start running around the house after a big play. It is hard to tell if he is just stimming or if he is trying to mimic what he just saw. Either way, it doesn’t matter because for that brief moment I get to share my love of football with Johnny. Even if it means I have to pick up the half eaten apple he just dropped.

The Fix by Six?

Last night per usual Johnny had a hard time falling asleep. Calming his body into rest is not an easy task for him. Usually I try to deny his sweet requests for a million hugs and try to remind him it’s not the time to run, giggle, or sing. But on this cold January night, I gave in. I held him tight and rubbed his back. As I stroked his hair and kissed his forehead, I couldn’t help but think about how in three weeks time he will be turning six.

Six. Makes me a little sick to my stomach to say it. For me six represents a lot. Before we knew Johnny was autistic we knew he at least had a delay. We were told by many that we had to get early intervention before five or six to help him. We were told the brain develops 90% by age six. I felt so much external and internal pressure to get it all in by six. 

I felt if I didn’t throw every kind of therapy and resource at my child I was failing him. That once he turned six, that would be it. Our fate would be set in stone. 

I won’t lie. In the beginning, I believed I had to fix my son by age six and if I didn’t there was no hope. 

The problem was, getting your kids those resources is not easy. We also had so much back and forth on whether or not it was autism, a developmental delay, and/or just a speech delay. No one seemed sure. So I couldn’t be sure.

I began to hope. I hoped it would all just go away. That hope became a denial in some ways. I let other people feed into that denial. They would tell us how one magical day it just clicked for their child. I held on to the hope it would happen for Johnny. 

Year one preschool graduation.

We worked with him all the time. We put him into developmental preschool at three, and by four we were sure he was autistic. It took until almost five to get a medical diagnosis. This whole time I felt sick. That deadline from the very beginning was approaching and I thought I hadn’t done enough. I somehow missed out on that mother’s intuition I should of had.

Was early preschool with their speech and occupational therapy enough?

Should I have thrown hours upon hours of therapy at him every week?

Did I fail him?

At almost five and a half, Johnny started more therapy and because of covid we opted for it instead of school. It’s been good. He works so hard at it, but he is nowhere near a typical child nearing six years old. The ticking of that countdown is coming to an end and we never caught up.

Although laying in bed tonight with my son as tears rolled down my cheeks I said “you know what bud you’re perfect. Are you happy or sad?” he replied “I not sad, I happy.” and that was all I needed.

I put this damn number six on a pedestal and now that we’re almost there, I say oh well. 

In a few weeks I’ll have to walk into the doctor’s office with my kid. Circle “sometimes” and “never” on some damn milestone form over and over again. And it will sting, but oh well.

This fall I’ll have to walk my tall, almost seven year old, into kindergarten and watch as his smaller and younger peers sit and talk and work, while he struggles. And it will hurt, but oh well. 

Oh well, because my son is autistic and that’s who he is. I was never going to make that go away. I can’t fix autism I can only embrace it and help my son navigate the world.

My son will probably never have a typical life and part of me is really scared by that. We work harder than most and will probably never catch up, but oh well. I can do my best to make sure my guy is happy. Our life isn’t typical, but it is full of joy and happiness.

Two year old Johnny giggling at the bad fort we made.

Looking back I’m glad my son was not in therapy all day everyday. I’m glad he got to be a toddler. I’m so grateful we had resources like early developmental preschool; and for the amazing therapists and teachers who helped him. I am so happy he is learning so much in his therapy now. I honestly believe we did our best and what was right for us, and I’m so grateful he got to be a little boy.

Life has not always been easy for Johnny. He’s had to learn way more about how he ticks than most children his age. We’ve worked with him his whole life and he’s worked so hard, and today he is happy and progressing.

So yup my kid is turning six in three weeks, but that’s not the end. He’ll be six, he’ll be autistic, he’ll be different, but he’ll be happy, and I am so happy he is who he is.

The Sweetest Gift

This holiday season we have been touched with the spirit of Christmas by friends and complete strangers. 

Christmas is a little different for us. My son, Johnny, who is almost 6 and on the autism spectrum, doesn’t ask for toys or say what he wants. He lacks communication skills and understanding as to why. We can go to the store and he may look at and touch a couple things but never says he wants them or tries to take it with him. 

I’m sure that sounds amazing to many parents but for me it’s a little sad. He doesn’t understand that those things are to buy and that he could, if allowed, take them home and have them. 

It’s the same thing with presents. There is so much to receiving a gift many of us don’t think about. The expectation of the giver, the group of people watching you open, and the loud parties or events that are usually associated with them, are all very overwhelming for Johnny. So much so that it has made gift opening undesirable to him.

This means no asking for gifts on his birthday and no exciting Christmas mornings filled with anticipation. For me there is so much guessing as to what he might actual enjoy, play with, and care about. 

This last month an amazing thing happened. Johnny saw a toy on a YouTube video, pointed to it and said “Christmas” I was shocked. The week before I sat with him and his sister making lists. For him I had to name different types of toys and he’d said “yes” or “no” then I would write the yeses down. I wasn’t sure if he understood but this meant he did and was asking for a toy. Amazing!

Of course I immediately went to find the toy and everywhere was sold out. The video we saw it on was a couple years old. My heart sank. I told a few of my friends who have autistic kids. I knew they would understand. Without me even asking they all went to the task of hunting down the toy. 

My heart could have burst. They were searching their states and provinces, calling and emailing the company who made it and searching the internet, they were a force. 

My sweet friend Amanda from Jackson’s Journey, Jackson’s Voice posted about it on her Facebook page and momma from Canada found a used one online. This amazing mom, Danielle who also has an autistic child, understood the need and reached out to the seller. I cried when I heard it was found. 

A couple weeks later and package arrived from Canada. A sense of joy and relief filled me. For the first time ever my son asked for something he wanted for Christmas and is going to get it. The sweet lady, Joanne, who sent it could have asked me for a lot of money and I probably would have paid, but she didn’t. She sent it for free and Danielle covered the shipping. 

Joanne wrote the sweetest letter about this amazing “Christmas wish”, and I once again cried.

This may seem like a small and silly toy, and I know we are already so fortunate to be able to have Christmas gifts and be healthy and happy together, but I’m also so glad to see my son becoming more aware. We have worked so hard for him to have a voice. Have his own wants, opinions, and thoughts. I’m so excited he could understand and can now experience some of the same joys other kids his age do. 

I doubt there will be a big show of it this Christmas. He is a very logic boy. He’s been told you ask for a toy from Santa and it comes. So he asked for it and knows he will find it under the tree Christmas morning. If it wasn’t it would be very hard for him to understand. Actually he wouldn’t understand. This would likely cause a meltdown, weeks of explaining and probably still not understanding. This time it will be there though. He has been and will be disappointed many times in his life, but this time because of sweet angels he won’t. 

My heart is full and happy. I can’t wait to watch my son open his gift. I can’t wait to truly explain to him one day the the spirit of giving and how he was touched by it by many people when he was five.

Merry Christmas. 

Christmas Through Johnny’s Eyes

Christmas is so much. It’s busy, it’s loud, it’s joyful, it’s frustrating, it’s a lot. I love it though. I love it for religious reasons, I love being with family, I love yummy treats, and I love presents. I get so caught up in it. 

 I have so many deep seeded memories when it comes to Christmas that I want to recreate them for my kids. I want them to have it all and sometimes I forget to slow down.

My five year old son Johnny is on the autism spectrum and is a sensory seeker. This often slows us down. He wants to stop and touch everything. He touches the walls, grass, everything on the shelfs at the store, he’s been known to lay on the ground in public and rub his hand over whatever is below him. He appreciates the little things, he feels and sees the world through the smallest details. 

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I often get sad he doesn’t get excited about Christmas in the traditional ways. He likes it. He likes to say “Santa” and sing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, but when it comes to the actual day he’s not a big fan. 

Johnny doesn’t love hustle and bustle, he’s not big on people coming and going. It’s a loud day with too many expectations. He’s not big on Christmas morning because he knows he’ll have to sit through opening presents, one of his least favorite things.

This year, instead of pushing the things children usually enjoy on him I’ve been celebrating through him. Watching how he enjoys all the small things.

Johnny examines every branch on the tree. He touches and feels each ornament. He lays under the tree and takes it all in. His favorite thing to do is watch the toy train go around and around the tree. 

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He loves decorations. Especially the big tacky ones I can’t stand, he knows where all the inflatables are in the neighborhood. He stares out the window and looks at all the beautiful lights on people’s houses. He loves his grandmother’s little nativity set and listing all the major players. 

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He loves snow. When we get that first heavy snow with the big flakes he and I go stand outside and watch them fall. We stare up and watch as each one of them hits our faces. Johnny will jump for joy and then become completely relaxed. I have to limit him so we don’t freeze but he would stand there forever. It is his heaven on earth. 

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He may not like us loud but he loves his family being together. You can see he loves everyone else’s excitement. He’ll come to me to point out who’s there whether or not he dare ever greet them. He feels the spirit of family and friends.

So this year I am loving seeing the Christmas season through his eyes. Slowing down to take in every detail. I am finding a new way to celebrate and a new way to create memories. I can’t make him enjoy it the way I did and do, but I can join him in enjoying it in the way he does.