"Merry Christmas" sign with lights. It’s that time of the year again! For some, the Christmas season is a time of joy, peace, and celebration. For others, it’s a time of managing expectations, sensory overload, and hectic schedules. For most of us, it’s a mix of all of the above!

An Autistic Person’s Guide to an Autism-Friendly Christmas

Over at Autistic Not Weird, Chris Bonnello has written a helpful and insightful post on “An autistic person’s guide to an autism-friendly Christmas.” Whether you or a loved one have autism or not, Chris’ reminder that Christmas is intended to be a “celebration, not a duty” is a freeing reminder to all of us to focus on what is important, rather than on others’ expectations for this time of year.

Christmas photo of house lights.

Chris’ post may not put you in the Christmas spirit, but he provides a helpful perspective with a good dose of humour!

In this post, he addresses important topics such as:

  • Handling society’s expectations
  • Handling family expectations
  • Handling routine changes and
  • Handling sensory issues

As a Christian, he also explores what is “Christian” about Christmas and what is not. Chris often feels furthest from God around Christmastime rather than being drawn closer to God. How might we let go of expectations in order to encounter God in a new way?

He wraps up with several ideas from others on how they celebrate an autism-friendly Christmas.

CLC Network Resources

Here on the blog we regularly point to the Christian Learning Center for their excellent resources. Holidays are no exception. They offer posts on 7 Ideas for Churches to Support Families Affected by Disability and Supporting Persons with Disabilities through the Holidays: A Guide for Parents, Grandparents, and Friends.

Barbara J NewmanBoth of these posts are written by Barbara J. Newman, director of church services. In the first, she highlights the importance of listening closely to the needs of families in congregations. “As a congregation, ask the parent or caregiver, ‘What is Christmas break like for Joey? What goes well and what parts are difficult?’ Listen as they tell you about the holiday prediction.” As Chris observes at Autism Not Weird, the holidays are not an easy time for many people and their families. Barb highlights the role churches can play in alleviating some of this pressure, whether through simple gifts of time or treats, respite for parents or siblings, or even taking the time to recognize, celebrate, and include people’s gifts and abilities!

In her guide for parents, grandparents, and families, Barb offers a number of helpful tips: Be clear in communication about what is helpful and not around the holidays; ensure people with disabilities are looked to not only as receivers, but contributors; be prepared in scheduling, visiting spaces ahead of time, and having jobs or activities prepared in advance.

I hope you’ll take a moment to review the resources and posts listed above. What have you found most helpful through holiday seasons? Leave a comment below or send us a note at ministry@christian-horizons.org

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

About Keith Dow

Husband, father, and thinker serving people with exceptional needs in Canada's capital and throughout Ontario. Connect with Keith on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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