It’s Fall, Y’all and the means pumpkin patches, fall festivals and, of course, trick or treating.
Sounds like a blast, right?
It sure does to me, and maybe you, too.
But for your child with Autism — that might be another story.
I remember how excited I was when my son was old enough to participate in all the fall fun.
I also remember how disappointed I was when my son’s only interest in Halloween was wearing a costume (which he already did most days).
I really believed he was missing out.
But the fact is, I was missing out.
I was missing out on my expectations of what my parenting experience would be like and what I believed his childhood would be like.
This is a really hard reality to confront, but it is the key to navigating Halloween, holidays, and every day with a child with Autism with more ease.
Indeed, as my son got older and I got wiser, I learned how to mourn my expectations of what I wanted our experience to be, so that I could create and and enjoy our own brand of fall fun.
This is exactly what I encourage you to do this October, and everyday. To get you started, I am going to share 3 tips for creating joy this fall:
1️⃣ Be Flexible
Yes, I know. How ironic that I am advising you to be flexible, but hear me out. Whether you realize it or not, you have expectations about how you think things should be or go.
Unfortunately, your expectations or wishes of how things should go may conflict with reality.
✓ You think your child should want to pick a pumpkin out of a field, but he would rather play in the dirt.
✓ You think your child should enjoy the hayride, but she refuses to get in the back of a loud and crowded truck.
✓ You think your child should participate in the school costume parade, but they opted to stay in the sensory room with their 1:1.
Yes, this can all be disappointing and painful, but telling yourself that things should be different than they actually are serves no purpose other that to create more pain for you.
Instead of holding tightly to your expectations of how you want things to go, take this opportunity to flex your own creativity and find ways to enjoy time with your child in a way that makes sense for them.
Building on the idea of flexibility, one the most important skills for Autism moms is the ability to PIVOT.
You know when your child is nearing a meltdown or has hit the point of no return. Instead of trying to white knuckle them through it, be willing to pivot.
This may look like:
✓ Trick or Treating for three houses and calling it quits
✓ Hanging out in the Bounce House, instead of enjoying other festival attractions like hayrides or pumpkin picking.
✓ Skipping the corn maze (seriously, who likes these?)
3️⃣ Seek Out Sensory Friendly Events
There is nothing like being around families who just get it, and that is exactly what you get when you attend Autism friendly events.
For my Connecticut-based moms, I highly recommend Sun, Moon & Stars, Inc., a Waterown-based non-profit serving families with Autism that holds year round Autism friendly events.
Not only will your child have an opportunity to participate in Autism Friendly events, you will have the chance to connect and create community with other caregivers.
Here are 3 upcoming events to check out. Act fast – tickets are going fast!
October: Trunk or Treat 👻
November: Santa Train 🎅🏼
December: Letters to Santa 🎄
Don’t live in Connecticut? Seek out opportunities wherever you live OR create your own. Every Autism friendly event or activity that my son has participated over the years originated with a Mom who saw an unmet need and filled it. That Mom can be you.
Have a great week!