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Non Book Talk > Christmas stress relievers

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message 1: by Leslie (last edited Dec 12, 2010 04:40AM) (new)

Leslie (lesslie) I'm initiating a new Christmas idea at my house to ease my little Thomas's holiday stress levels. (He has Asperger's and a pretty bad anxiety order that's helped partly with meds,partly with good old-fashioned good management.) Instead of bombarding him with a great big pile of presents on Christmas morning that he'll only be able to focus on one of anyway, I'm going to try doing The Twelve DAys of Christmas. Starting on the 14th, he gets a video game he's been dying for first. Only that. He can really appreciate that present cos it's the only one for the day. Once school lets out, we'll all be grateful that he's got something else to do cos as an only child, he gets bored alot. Then each day he gets ONE present, or bag of similar/related presents so he has something to look forward to for 12 days instead of one, and does't end up so jaded, as he has in years past. Christmas morning, he gets the big wow present and big fat skillfully planned Stocking of wonders. If it has been any other kid, I wouldn't do it, it's more work and planning, but Thomas doesn't regulate emotions well and spirals out of control when the excitement and anticipation are too much for him. Anyone else have tricks for making the season a little easier?


message 2: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) You sound like a very smart mother!! In hindsight, I've realized that I could have done so many things differently to help my son (who's now 36) in his daily trials. We seem to be good friends most of the time now and I've learned so much from him. He has developmental disabilities and intermittent explosive disorder. He had some symptoms of PDD as well, but was never diagnosed with that. I admire you for what you are doing for your son. I am sure this will be a very special Christmas for him and for you.


message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Martha wrote: "You sound like a very smart mother!! In hindsight, I've realized that I could have done so many things differently to help my son (who's now 36) in his daily trials. We seem to be good friends most..."

Jeesh, Martha, don't kill yourself with hindsight! I have the same tendency and try like crazy to stop those thoughts as soon as they pop into my mind. Such a time and energy waster. The fact that it even still bothers you is very telling. Think of what you got right. You even still HAVE a relationship with him, none of my siblings or I have any contact with our mom at all. I'd sure love to pick your brain, sometime. I bet I could learn alot from your experience.


message 4: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Thanks, Leslie. Actually, I got over the guilt years ago. I just know that there are many things I could have done differently. I think that is common for all mothers/parents, not just those of us with special needs children. The most important thing we'll ever do and there's no training for it. LOL

Jason & I are very involved in Special Olympics (he as an athlete & me as head coach for our agency). We just had a great evening last night where his team won both basketball games they played. We have a great coach for the team since I don't know enough to coach games. Jason told me on the way home that he hopes I never quit being a coach. So I know that I'm getting many things right!

Jason also has seizure disorder so isn't driving right now ... he doesn't have his own car, but sometimes drives for me. We're trying to get him adjusted to some new meds. They make him sleepy so he sometimes forgets his night seizure meds. For that reason I can't let him drive. We live in a small town so every time we go to the bigger town for shopping, practices, etc. we drive through part of the town to look at Christmas lights instead of trying to do it all in one night. That's one way we spread out the holiday joy and lessen the stress.


message 5: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) We used to do that when I was a kid, I can't see well enough to drive at night so my poor kid has sortof missed that pleasure. Maybe will take My Little Pony,(otherwise know as Bella, the big fat giant Golden Retriever) and walk thru our own neighbor hood. Our neighbors do it up nicely!


message 6: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) That sounds like fun! Too cold for me here. We have snow out there this morning so I'm debating about church. I grew up in Louisiana & liking the snow less & less as I get older. It's beautiful to look at, but not so much fun to walk in.


message 7: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Lousiana is our neighbor! We're here in hot, humid Baytown and always get their refugess come hurricane season. Good times.


message 8: by Shay (new)

Shay | 284 comments My mother, who passed away a few years ago, did this for Christmas stress relief. Her and her friends all agreed, NO presents for each other. Instead, they would just meet one day during the Christmas season for a spa day, lunch, dinner, etc.


message 9: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) What a great idea, Shay!! The enjoyment of the day & the memories would be better than any present!!


message 10: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) The presents are the hardest part, huh?


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 82 comments I like the idea of a girl's day out!


message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) I have to say, I really like the idea of 12 Days of Christmas, even though it's just me and the boyfriend at home. He doesn't really like Christmas-time and maybe this would ease the stress a bit! I'll have to keep that in mind for next year :)


message 13: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4880 comments I like that idea too. I like Christmas. I don't have that many people to shop for.


message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Sarah wrote: "I have to say, I really like the idea of 12 Days of Christmas, even though it's just me and the boyfriend at home. He doesn't really like Christmas-time and maybe this would ease the stress a bit! ..."

Sarah, my old man used to hate Christmas but over the past few years has really come around, slowly but surely.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) He's definitely better about it this year than he has been in past years. A little more supportive when it comes to decorating and such. But I did tell him about the 12 Days of Christmas thing and he liked it! It'll lessen the stress for him, and I'll get a present every day for 12 days! Perfect! LOL we're going to do that next year though.


message 16: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Wow! That's so cool. Of course, for me, most of the presents are only moderately wow, only the first and last are WOW!!!! I've been gathering them up for months.


message 17: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I think I'll have to try this next year. It's a great idea!


Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) I don't have any tips but wanted to say: Leslie & Martha, you are wonderful, loving Moms and your sons are incredibly lucky to have you!


message 19: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Jo, what a sweet thing to say!! I know that I wouldn't be the mom I am without Jason. He certainly helped me learn patience! :-)

Leslie, how are the 12 days going? I think this is such a wonderful idea. I have one athlete who has autism & he gets overwrought if we praise him too much. I constantly remind the other athletes to not compliment Sean too much ... he gets really weepy!


message 21: by Dolly (new)

Dolly (dollya) Shay wrote: "My mother, who passed away a few years ago, did this for Christmas stress relief. Her and her friends all agreed, NO presents for each other. Instead, they would just meet one day during the Christ..."

Shay, I think that is a great idea too. I enjoy just having the time with my family, and that is enough present for me.

For me, one holiday stress reliever is that I have some time to read for my pure enjoyment, and not for work or school.


message 22: by Shay (new)

Shay | 284 comments Martha wrote: "Jo, what a sweet thing to say!! I know that I wouldn't be the mom I am without Jason. He certainly helped me learn patience! :-)

Leslie, how are the 12 days going? I think this is such a wonderf..."


Martha, I can tell you why my son, who has Asperger's doesn't like to be praised overly much. He doesn't want people to pay too much attention to him, makes him realize that people are noticing what he's doing. Number two, he doesn't like "general" praise. Like good job and such. It makes no sense to him; he doesn't know what you're talking about and it makes him nervous that he can't recreate it. He likes specific praise- I noticed that you ran that lap 2 seconds faster than the last time, I noticed that you remembered that 4 quarters equals a dollar. He's also afraid that at some point someone is going to want to hug him or touch him.


message 23: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Phillips My boyfriend and I really do not do much over Christmas realizing that any day of the year can be made to be special not just the winter holiday season.

We both have hobbies that we REALLY enjoy and continue to do those though-out the year. Also neither one of has shopping as a hobby so that alleviates much stress and money spending since we don't shop for the holiday.

This season we treated ourselves to the latest Harry Potter movie in IMAX 3D and went to a George Winston piano concert which was absolutely AMAZING :o)


message 24: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 654 comments I do love the idea of spreading out the gifts over 12 days. It appears that's better for ANY child. I recall with my cousins they had a mountain of gifts (being the first grandbabies) and the sheer excitement and abundance spiraled them out of control.

But does the 12 days develop the idea that each day has a ritual gift? Is it kinda like a friend of my parent's would give her kids gifts from the supermarket in order to keep them calm and they began to expect that everytime??

My stress reliever this year was watching the snow fall during a lunch break. I drowned out all the noise to sit in awe of something so beautiful, simple and happens only during the winter. Sometimes I miss the "memory" gifts -- activities to create memories instead of "what do you want for Xmas" question for presents. For the past three years, I haven't had a clue what I really wanted other than memory gifts.


message 25: by Sarah (new)

Sarah (sarahsaysread) Tanja wrote: "I do love the idea of spreading out the gifts over 12 days. It appears that's better for ANY child. I recall with my cousins they had a mountain of gifts (being the first grandbabies) and the sheer..."

I don't think 12 days of Christmas would make kids expect presents every day. I never hear of kids that celebrate Hanukkah having that issue, and that's only 4 days less.


Watching snow fall is a great stress reliever! Especially when it's quiet outside, it can be so pretty and peaceful. Of course, until you have to drive in it! LOL


message 26: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Well, he SHOULD expect a gift every day for the 12 days of Christmas. It's the 12 days of Christmas. He knows about it. He can only expect that there will be 12 gifts. Unless, you meant that he'd expect every day of his life to get a present. He's 7, almost 8. Not 2, he knows it's for these 12 days only. I don't expect that he will behave badly on the day after Christmas.
Sarah, I envy you that snow. It was 80 degrees here yesterday, very humid with biting mosquitoes! Ick! Thankfully, they say it'll be cooler on Christmas day. We're hoping to be cold enough to use our fireplace.


message 27: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Shay wrote: "Martha wrote: "Jo, what a sweet thing to say!! I know that I wouldn't be the mom I am without Jason. He certainly helped me learn patience! :-)

Shay, my Thomas is the same way. Everything you say to him has to be weighed and measured first, because, If we don't, he will. The way his mind works is exhausting sometimes. He takes an anti-anxiety med called Celexa that is sometimes used for depression in adults that has helped alot. Also, this book was extremely helpful: What to Do When You Worry Too Much A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner. We borrowed it from the library and I am still using the theory learned from it every day. The premise is that worry is a weed. Unlike happy productive thoughts (good plants) worries are not to be encouraged to grow. They are to be spoken of only once a day at most and locked away. A most helpful idea because talking about worries gives them a stronger reality for Thomas.



message 28: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Shay wrote: "Martha wrote: "Jo, what a sweet thing to say!! I know that I wouldn't be the mom I am without Jason. He certainly helped me learn patience! :-)

Leslie, how are the 12 days going? I think this is s..."


Shay, Jason has never liked to be touched much or hugged either. Once 10-15 years ago, I picked him up from work & he was just bubbly, gave me a hug & told me he loved me ... VERY unlike him. We had been dealing with his depression & suicidal ideation for quite some time. I didn't want to make a big deal about it b/c I tend to think the worst so I dropped him off at his apartment. I had to go to work so I immediately called my husband to go by & see him, take him out to supper, just check things out. I was concerned that Jason had made a decision to end his life & was telling me goodbye. Turns out he had had a very good session with his therapist & really was in a good place. I do cherish his spontaneous expressions of love. They are getting more and more frequent as he gets older.


message 29: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) Leslie wrote: "Shay wrote: "Martha wrote: "Jo, what a sweet thing to say!! I know that I wouldn't be the mom I am without Jason. He certainly helped me learn patience! :-)

Shay, my Thomas is the same way. Eve..."


Leslie, I think that theory & practice would be good for anyone who has the tendency to worry too much. A very good comparison to them being like weeds. Thanks for sharing that.


message 30: by Shay (new)

Shay | 284 comments Thanks, Leslie, I requested the book from the library. If he responds well to it, I'll borrow her OCD book, too.

Martha, my AS son is not affectionate with others, but he is with me. It's like all the love has nowhere to go except me. When we first realized he has Asperger's, I realized that maybe he didn't know showing affection was important. So, I asked him to spontaneously hug and kiss me and tell me he loved me once a day. So, he had a three day cycle he planned out- when he woke up, when he got home from school, and before dinner. Shortly after, he started really doing it spontaneously. He did tell me that he didn't know it was important to me and it never occurred to him that people would want to be hugged.


message 31: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) You're very wise, Shay! Wish I'd had some of your wisdom when Jason was growing up. Jason, at 36, is still more comfortable with me than with others. I have to work Christmas Eve morning & will meet the rest of the family later at our middle son's home. Jason is coming to work with me rather than ride with the others. I'm going to TRY to put him to work shredding some papers for me! LOL


message 32: by Shay (new)

Shay | 284 comments Martha wrote: "You're very wise, Shay! Wish I'd had some of your wisdom when Jason was growing up. Jason, at 36, is still more comfortable with me than with others. I have to work Christmas Eve morning & will mee..."

They didn't know much about AS when your son was young. I think people were looking for Autism in its extreme forms. I would say that doctors haven't even had the training to look for AS until about 5-8 years ago and even today it's a matter of luck finding the right doctor.


message 33: by Jayme (new)

Jayme (jaymetheghostreader) | 4880 comments I work with some kids who have autism and I am learning alot from them. Each child has unique traits. The one girl I work with, she whips her head back. Another boy is very talkative and tends to focus on the negative side of the situation. For example, he will play with her I.D. card until he breaks it. Then he will say something like: "I broke it. I won't be able to buy lunch til I get a new one." Stuff like that.


message 34: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) So, Leslie, did you find that the 12 days of gifts was less stressful in the long run? I would imagine it increased his joy of the season by being able to focus on the gift of the day rather than being bombarded by so many at once. Hope everyone's Christmas was wonderful!


message 35: by Leslie (new)

Leslie (lesslie) Yes! And he appreciated each little present more than in years past where he found himself in an enormous pile of gifts and paper saying, "what's next?". Funny thing is i think he played with his $5 slinky more than all the pricy video games!


message 36: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 654 comments Leslie, that's awesome!! I'd like the cats like to play with the bows on the box more than the actual gift. I love that the slinky is so enduring!


message 37: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) My grandchildren got board games this year ... Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, Apples to Apples, etc. Can't wait to play games with them!!


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