This is the time of year when I start to lose it a little. The holiday speed train from Halloween to Christmas is demanding for most families and rife with extra activity and extra stress. But this year, I realize, I am struggling harder and earlier than ever before with the twin emotions of grief and isolation. Hideous, oppressive grief and isolation. One reason for this is that my son—who has SPD, a severe speech disorder, and multiple food allergies—is now four and a half, more aware of the holidays, and (relatively) more able to join in. So we’ve been taking part in the usual holiday activities more than before.
And I’ve discovered a strange phenomenon. The more we try to participate along with the rest of the “typical” world in the holiday traditions—Fall Festivals, Thanksgiving feasts, family portraits, Christmas parties, church services, school programs—the more sad and isolated I feel. I have suddenly realized that when we come out of our special needs bubble, which is heavy on routine and focused on individual progress, and go mainstream in our holiday fun, I often feel anything but included.
It’s important for me to point out that my child shows no signs of sharing my feelings. He has a wonderful time at every event, providing his sensory needs are met (that’s a post for another day). He either has no idea how his experiences may differ from the kid next to him or doesn’t care. He’s happy and having fun, but I am not. …continue reading