Keep the Holidays Happy: The Do’s and Don’ts for Talking with Family and Friends
DON’T: Worry about the technical terms (unless people want to know).
Explaining that John has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Support Level 2, gives people a name doesn’t help them understand what it means for your child. They may know what ASD is, but they might not know how it affects his daily life.
DO: Explain what it means in plain language.
Let people know that John may have a hard time with conversation or a difficult time adjusting to the noise or new people. Tell them, too, what they can do to make things easier. For example, “John may not want you to hug him, but he’ll definitely be happy to say hello to you.” The point is to let them know what they can expect and how to help. And encourage them to ask questions!
DON’T: Focus entirely on your child’s challenges.
Remember that the holidays are a time for celebration and there are many things about your child to celebrate. Be positive about his accomplishments and bring to light his engaging qualities. Share the small, funny everyday kid things that have happened since you last saw your friends and family.
DO: Let your family celebrate you and enjoy the holidays!
At holiday gatherings family and friends are there to support and celebrate you, too. You don’t have to spend all your time talking about your child. There’s plenty of opportunity for you to share in their joys and for them to share in yours.
Keep in mind that talking to your family about your child’s issues can be helpful, but it doesn’t have to be the entire focus of your holiday season.
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