December 2, 2016
Welcome to Your Online Autism Holiday Survival Guide
The holidays can be an especially challenging time for folks on the autism spectrum. Depending on your religion and location, the excitement can last from October through December, without much of a break along the way. Many of us are solitary, silence-loving introverts, and being thrust into the sometimes frenzied, social pace of the holidays isn’t easy. Not only are our routines disrupted, but we’re also bombarded with sights and sounds and smells and sensations that overwhelm our sensitive natures. The constant stream of demands and expectations from others, pressures to “perform” well socially, and add extra activities to our normal routine can be exhausting.
So, what do we do?
Just sit out the holidays? Some of us do, of course, while others either don’t have that option or genuinely want to be a part of holiday activities. It’s often a time for family and friends, but even if you are a solitary, the holidays still include a fair amount of disruption to the normal flow of everyday life.
This online guide is designed to help autistic folks better understand personal preferences, challenges, and strengths, to better handle the holiday season. The guide consists of 2 parts:
- The Autistic Stress Gauge, an interactive tool to help you determine the impact that specific activities and situations have on you so that you can make healthy decisions about your holiday activities. We don’t always realize how stressful and exhausting things can be and the Stress Gauge helps you recognize what is most challenging for you. Extensive online help in the tool answers your questions about the Stress Gauge and offers a variety of worksheets that you can use to develop new coping skills and try out new tips to make your life easier.
- This Living Well Blog is full of vignettes – stories of body, mind, spirit, and heart to connect you with our shared autistic experience and help you find your place in the autistic community. You’ll also find a more in-depth discussion of specific strategies to help you learn from others, so you can make the most of your holiday season. There is also room in the comment section for you to share with other autistics about your particular challenges and what you have found works for you.
While we have structured this guide in a way that makes sense to us, you may wish to use it in your own individual way. You can print off pages to put in a binder or combine with a journal you keep. You may find some of the sections don’t necessarily apply to you, and choose not to use them. Or you may find some sections that we did not include, which you think we should. We’re always open to suggestion, so if you can think of ways to improve this guide, by all means, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or start a discussion in the comment section below.