Twelve Significant Suggestions for Special Needs Holiday Success

When the kids were little, they would mark up all the catalogs to make their Christmas wish lists. It seems like yesterday. I remember their giggles of anticipatory joy, crossing off each day on the calendar until Christmas day FINALLY arrived.

Child
(Image from Unsplash)

Something about kids and Christmas . . . it’s almost magical.

But those magical moments changed the year I began to shop for my son with disabilities. He struggled with sounds that were too loud or when the weather was too cold, and all those Christmas catalogs packed with toys for typical kids meant nothing to him.

He couldn’t conceptualize the meaning of Christmas, which completely disrupted the traditions we had enjoyed for years.

It is difficult to navigate the holidays—or any major event—when a loved one in the family is incapable of understanding and experiencing the delight of it all.

Finding gifts for those who have . . .

Five Lifechanging, Unforgettable Gifts

I never thought a washing machine would be on my 3-year-old son’s Christmas gift list. Christmas came three weeks after my son was diagnosed with autism and global developmental disability—what used to be labeled as “mental retardation.”

Christmas
(Image from Unsplash)

While he wasn’t yet talking, he made his wishes very clear. Every time—I kid you not—we went to a place that sold washers and dryers, his inner radar immediately directed him to the display models.

He (and we) would check to see if they were “working” or “on display.” He checked them out top to bottom, inside and out, as if he was the manager signing off on selling the items.

We moved from washers and dryers to vacuums, then fans, wheels, and pouring water. Most who understand the autism spectrum know that machines that spin and turn visually stimulate parts of the brain and are irresistible to our loved ones with autism and sensory challenges.

What’s a Parent to Do?

How to Turn That Frown Upside Down

Let this article by my Dad, Chuck Swindoll, bless you this holiday season!

Too often, we pastors tend to wear our smiles upside-down. The burdens of ministry—especially during the busy holidays—often cause our joy to droop into deep-wrinkled frowns.

Smiling
(Image from Unsplash)

In case you need a little help with this assignment, read through this psalm . . .

Three Essentials That Will Revolutionize Your Holiday Season

Years ago, shortly after Thanksgiving, I learned my son had been horribly assaulted. Suddenly, all thoughts of a joyful holiday vanished. The last thing on my mind was giving thanks.

Family Eating Dinner
(Image from Pixabay)

Though the trees displayed the colors of autumn, my heart was the shade of deepest sorrow.

I remember two specific things about the holidays that year:

  1. It was the first holiday season my husband and I had shared as a married couple. With our new blended family of five kids, I wanted to make it super special . . . until I found out about my son’s assault. What timing!
  2. The deluge of police reports, doctor’s exams, new diagnoses of PTSD, moderate traumatic brain injury, tics, flashbacks, and nightmares smothered my ability to do more than show up and breathe.

My most beloved holiday season became scarred by an irreversible, deep wound that affected my whole family.

How Do We Move Forward?

How do we move forward when life hurts? That’s a question we all ask when life forces us to find a “new normal.” Some of us want to wait out the hard times because we’d like to believe that time heals all wounds.

Unfortunately, that’s a huge lie. Another way we try to move forward is by glossing over the pain with a thick coat of denial. We varnish over our pain by presenting behavior that appears happy and well-adjusted. Sometimes that looks like . . .

Bitterness can settle down deep into the soul and provoke us to retaliate or to try to prove something. If there’s something you’re holding on to . . . I encourage you to let it go.

Life Can Be Hard and Full Also

No parent expects their high-achieving child to end up with a life prison sentence. Shattered by this reality, Carol Kent had to reframe what it means to live fully amid unchanging, hard circumstances. She now has multiple opportunities to benefit inmates and their families through her speaking, writing, and the organizations she and her husband have founded.