The holidays are an ordeal for everyone. Especially for the neurodiverse. I wrote this to give you some perspective on this bittersweet occasion for us.
The most obvious challenge of Christmas for a nonspeaker is getting toys. Yes, we wanted them. Yes, they are beautiful and we love them, just like every kid on Christmas. No, we cannot just play with them. Not unless our bodies have purposefully navigated how to maneuver the parts. Toys are cool, but being a part of family time is cooler. You are cooler, we want to play and interact with you.
The family time, however, can also become quite challenging. Lots of talking neurotypicals can create a loud environment for sensitive ears. Lots of faces and movement can exhaust already hard working eyes. We already know the consequences of sensory overload, so just be mindful of our hardworking bodies. Seeing you is so worth it.
There are times when families want to play games or sing songs. This is so fun! However, nonspeakers may find it difficult to express their interest, and find themselves left out. Please give us the option to join, it feels good. If we don’t want to, it could be that the magical show our synesthesia is providing for us, is simply too good to ignore.
I think the most challenging aspect, all while being surrounded by friends and family, is not being able to tell you all of this ourselves. Not being able to say ‘I love you’ just because. But if there ever was a Christmas miracle, i would have to say that it is spelling to communicate. Through spelling, all of these hardships are mitigated and now we can happily say ‘happy holidays!’
All of this is just to give you some perspective on the holidays. Now that you know at least my story, you can apply it to your neurodiverse family member. Take the time to see the holidays through their eyes.