Autism File Magazine: At Holiday Time Follow Your Heart
Posted Nov 01 2012 12:00am
Our friends at Autism File Magazine have shared an article on The Holidays. We invite you to subscribe to The Autism File - published by Belvoir Media. Every issue is loaded with info about education, recreation, family challenges, biomedical treatments, adult issues and more. Our own Cathy Jameson and Dan Burns write for the Autism File as does that Managing Editor lady with the pink books. :)
By Christina Adams
After a tense pre-Thanksgiving dinner out, our young son climbed into
my soon-to-be ex’s station wagon and they left for five days. Staring
at the setting sun from the parking lot, I realized I’d be alone the
whole time. My family lived far away, my friends were busy and I was
too proud to interrupt anyway. My mood fell into the classic single’s
“nobody cares if I live or die” feeling. Drifting around town that
Saturday, I bought a sparkly white almost-prom dress with lipstick-red
flowers, a discount-rack promise that I wasn’t dead yet and might
actually wear a pretty dress again. By Christmas Eve, I was meeting new
male and female friends for holiday drinks, and I moved into a cute
condo behind a convenience store on a rainy New Year’s morning.
festive but drama-filled year and a half after that miserable
Thanksgiving, I flew home from the Memorial Day Autism One conference in
Chicago. Reluctantly doing my dating “homework,” I paged through the
weekly listing of singles from an online dating service, and found
Tony—who’d posted a profile just for the three-day holiday weekend. My
brief note to him was a near-miss as he’d planned to take it down within
We soon met for a three-hour lunch and although I was afraid of
marriage, I knew by its end we would wed. After I spent the July Fourth
weekend in Virginia with family, Tony met my son for the first time at
the airport. That night, he gave me a card pledging his love and
commitment. I wore my prom dress with red flowers to his company winter
holiday party, and we were married in August 2009 at an old Tennessee
Holidays are emotionally risky for singles, but their original
purpose was to mark death, rebirth and the change of seasons. If you’ve
just realized your relationship is over or have just become a solo
parent, begin your break-up recovery with seasonal inspiration, planning
Set your expectations to slightly non-normal
Becoming single or divorced as an ASD parent “…is not the same as
other people who are divorcing. You work a lot harder than the average
parent,” says Dr. Kathy Marshack, a Washington psychologist specializing
in ASD families. She advises surrounding yourself with people who
understand life with an ASD kid, such as an autism support group.
If you’re breaking up with the child’s parent, separations may reveal
a huge difference in parenting styles. You two may not get along, but
kids who know both parents love them are not very troubled by this, Dr.
Marshack says. She cautions that ASD traits in other family members may
add to the stress of the separation.
Wrap up a short-term survival plan
Make sure you have some cash in the bank and a credit card. Ensure
your living arrangements offer you a temporary place for peace and some
alone time, even if you have to cohabitate with the ex temporarily
(something I did but don’t advise—stress and lack of privacy causes
problems). Hire a sitter if the other parent isn’t available—childcare
may be a legally sharable expense.
Call your local developmental agency, United Cerebral Palsy or YMCA
and ask for additional respite, homecare and daycare aide services for
you and your child if needed. Seek new mental health services if you
feel very stressed even if it’s strictly a romantic breakup. ASD parents
are pre-burdened with stress so reaching for help is right for us even
if other people wouldn’t.
Write it down—and feel better
Crawl into your bed or behind your favorite coffee shop table with
paper and a pen. A study showed 100 new singles gained comfort, relief,
thankfulness and wisdom when they wrote about the positive aspects of
their breakup for 15 to 30 minutes a day.
Put those silver linings down on paper and see if your mental black
clouds lift. Then burn them ceremonially over a Yule Log or a cheap
candle—the flames are quite satisfying. Or call a friend for a burning
hearts party! Read the full article HERE.