I’m pretty sure that many of you have this as a tradition of sorts…holiday cards. That time where you want to show your family or friends your own family and how they have grown over the past year. For the first 19 years of my life, this was a required family tradition and let me just say…I hated it.
There, I said it.
Doing holiday photos was draining, irritating and disruptive to me. Being forced to wear something, pose and smile was something that I would never want to do because it’s not my character. In fact, I personally would never have done it looking back but at the same time, my family didn’t have any self-awareness of autism back then.
In fact, one of the things that families will argue about holiday cards is that it’s one of the most fun traditions that they will ever be in, especially as a family whereas other times of the year, they are doing other things and living their lives that way. But families have to remember that anyone who is autistic or neurodiverse being forced to do something that they don’t want to do is more psychologically damaging than they think.
Yes, I know some of you may think that I am just trying to get your child out of participating. But, hear me out on this. There have been moments, particularly at conventions, where I see someone catching my eye and I would take photos incognito. One time, I got caught and got chewed out for what I did.
The truth is that not everyone likes to have their picture taken, especially for those who are neurodiverse or autistic. For a lot of families, this is going to be hard to accept because they think their autistic/neurodiverse loved ones like having their picture taken when in reality, they don’t. But there are alternatives.
If you look at this picture from the Simpsons episode, “Marge Be Not Proud,” you will see that there is an alternative picture of Bart in the spot where he would have been in the real photo (although in reality, he had a security guard grab him by the scruff of his neck).
A great alternative would be to take an alternative picture of your autistic/neurodiverse loved one from an event that they enjoyed over the course of the year and then copy and paste it onto the actual photo. To capture the mood, have everyone create a space so that your loved one is included. This would save the trouble of your loved one being forced to participate when he or she really is not.
In conclusion, there are alternatives when it comes to family traditions such as holiday cards. The trouble is that families are so blinded sometimes that they are unwilling to be flexible and accepting to accommodate the sensory needs of their loved one.
What there needs to be is acceptance amongst neurodiverse families that there are other or alternative ways to mark a holiday that doesn’t involve being forced to do something that their loved one doesn’t want to do.
There are some things we don’t want to do but have to, such as going to the doctor or important event, but being forced to do a Christmas card shouldn’t have to be on that list.
Catch you all later!!