The highs were so high, and the lows were so very low

Ryan loves Christmas. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D)

Ryan loves completion. (Exhibit E, Exhibit F)

So it shouldn’t be too surprising that despite our repeated statement that Santa brings just one small gift per child, Ryan freaked out that he did not receive all six items he had included in his letter to Santa Claus.

To an outside observer it probably looked like Ryan was being a spoiled brat (I actually started off by giving him a long, harsh lecture about gratitude and appreciation and how damn lucky he is), but we quickly realized the problem was that he had written a list of six things but could only cross one off. It was somewhat of a relief when he discovered that others in the family had given him two other items from the list, but it took us a long time to talk him down from this meltdown. We eventually agreed that he could save up his own money and complete the list himself sometime.

So, that was the first half-hour of Christmas morning.


Then Ryan realized he had been so excited to go to bed last night (cuz Santa only comes when you’re asleep) that he had neglected to leave out cookies and milk for Santa and the reindeer. He was beside himself with grief on this. We quickly found a shipping box, filled it with gingerbread and a juice box, and addressed it to the North Pole. Since there’s no mail pick-up on Christmas day, I put the box in my car and assured Ryan I would bring it to the post office in the morning.


After these crises, Christmas was lovely. There were even moments that highlighted Ryan’s tremendous progress. This year he chose to spend his Chanukah money to buy us presents, and they were reasonably thoughtful (he gave me a delightfully soft throw blanket, because he knows how much I enjoy napping on the couch). At lunch he actually ate what everyone else was eating – new food! – and requested to taste new foods it hadn’t occurred to me to attempt to serve him. After deciding he didn’t like these foods, he allowed them to stay on his plate; normally he would insist on scraping the offending items into the trash so he wouldn’t have to look at them.

And the best thing about Christmas? After a week of saying he didn’t know if he wanted to, Ryan went home with his grandparents for a two-night sleepover. It was a Christmas miracle!

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Meredith Zolty
My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at
Meredith Zolty


My kid is great! And he has PDD-NOS and ADHD (e-i-e-i-o). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Watch us navigate the world of neurodiversity at

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