Adjusting to holidays and ASD

I am pleased to introduce Robin McReynolds as a guest blogger today. Robin is an attorney who volunteers here at Easter Seals in Chicago. She is the proud mother of two wonderful children, Hope and Alek, and is married to her best friend, Alexander.

Having a “normal” Thanksgiving

by Robin McReynolds

Alek looking in the camera in a school picture


Thanksgiving is definitely the holiday that brings our family together. Although we are scattered across the Continental U.S., Canada and Europe, everyone makes an effort to get together.

It’s a time to catch up on all that’s happened in the past year. Everyone shares pictures of children, grandchildren and stories of travels. Children run through the house laughing and yelling. The only one you don’t hear asking for treats before dinner is my son, Alek. He was diagnosed with ASD at age two, and does not speak.

At first, the other children had no idea how to interact with him. He would shy away from physical contact and games. He often stood far away from the other children and just watch them play. I’d look over to my husband and see such sadness on his face. I knew adjustment to the diagnosis would be difficult for our family. It would take time.

Holidays became very stressful, as we were consumed with how to manage meltdowns, exit strategies, and special diets. How many times would we be asked, “Is he alright?” I’d answer yes. “He’s just fine,” I’d say, although I wasn’t sure if my husband and I were.

Time has changed so many things. Alek has grown into a friendly, athletic, six year old who is a star with his cousins. They all include him in games and want to try out his “very cool” communication device. He loves the attention. I love our very “normal” Thanksgiving. I am very thankful for the understanding from our loved ones and the comfort I feel with Alek’s progress. Alek’s early diagnosis granted our family time to give him the best supports. Time to adjust, time to take advantage of therapy services, and time to learn about assistive technology. Now I look forward to Thanksgiving tomorrow, when we’ll take time to be together with family. We have a lot to be thankful for.


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