So Late It's Probably Irrelevant Easter Post

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I wasn't going to do an Easter post this year. I said what I needed to say about this holiday last year, and other than having another child in the house to corrupt with our heathen ways, nothing has  changed.

But I realized that the decisions I made about this year's Easter activities had nothing to do with atheism and everything to do with Autism and SPD. So, I decided it was worth writing about after all.

Dying Easter Eggs
Not. Gonna. Happen.

Hard boiled eggs are gross. I won't eat them, my husband won't eat them and I think it goes without saying Bear won't eat them.  And I refuse to waste food.  So, no egg dying at our house.

My solution is for us to bake and decorate egg and bunny shaped sugar cookies.  Baking together is a favorite activity that's full of opportunities for sensory stimulation - as long as you don't mind a little mess!

Easter Egg Hunts
Not. Gonna. Happen.

Our neighborhood does one. The latest newsletter bragged that at last year's Easter Egg Hunt, 3000 eggs were found in under 10 minutes.  I thought "that's supposed to make us want to go?!"

How much chaos does that mean?  More than I'm willing to subject my kid to.  And have I mentioned I'm a sensory avoider who suffers extreme anxiety in crowds?

I made the decision to pass on hunts before my friends talked about events where they saw older kids shoving toddlers out of the way and parents interfering so their darling could get the most eggs. No. Thanks. 

My Bear can barely make it through a quiet board game without freaking out if the other players don't play their turns the way he scripted in his head.  I'd rather not see how he'd handle being pushed aside while he was sighting the next egg with binoculars and triple counting how many steps it takes to reach it.

The solution? We had Easter brunch at Grandma's house and they very thoughtfully hid a few eggs around the living room.  He got the egg hunt experience in a safe place at his own pace. He got to do things like count and recount the eggs in his basket. And we got pictures like this.

The grandparents both eat hard boiled eggs, so when the hunt was done the eggs were quietly returned to the fridge and Bear happily went home with a small packet of organic jelly beans.

Easter Baskets
Not. Gonna. Happen.

Insert inappropriate zombie carpenter joke here.
I don't want my kids to associate any holiday with boatloads of cheap candy. (For Halloween we pick a few favorite pieces and the Halloween Witch visits in the night to trade the rest for a small gift.)  Besides, my OCD can't stand the messy plastic grass or bunny themed tchotckes that are worse than McToys.

Plus, I can't afford the vet bills if my cat ate the plastic grass (a guarantee) or my dog got sick from eating all the candy (so common that vets call it Easter Basket Syndrome).

Did I mention I lovingly baked sugar cookies from scratch? And then let my child loose with big bowls of colored icing?  I was scraping icing drips off the counter for two days. I think that's more than enough sugar for one holiday.

Easter Bunny
At our house the Easter Bunny is a cheap, lazy version of Santa. He brings one modest gift (under $20) and leaves it - unwrapped - on the coffee table.  There's no unnecessary drama involving the perfect technique for unwrapping a gift, no meltdown when we won't let him open other people's gifts, no extra cleanup. Just happy kids. 

And really? If carefully limiting how we participate means we navigate the minefield of another overstimulating, overcommercialized, sugar laden, peer pressurized holiday and wind up with happy (regulated!) kids? That's all I can ask for.

More Effective Than a Blue Light Bulb

Friday, April 6, 2012

This morning Bear was moaning, twitching, flailing and crying before he even opened his eyes - I don't think I've ever seen him wake up already in a full meltdown. It took all I had to restrain him so he didn't accidentally hurt the baby, who was sound asleep next to us.

He finally woke up enough to stop thrashing, but was nonverbal for a good hour after that.  All I could think about was the fact we were supposed to pick up his glasses today and how on earth was THAT going to happen now?

Eventually he calmed down and I decided we might as well go for it.

The fitting was quick and easy.  I was relieved. We were turning to go when she noticed there was a small balance due to discrepancy with insurance.  So, we got in line to pay.

I could tell right away he wasn't going to make it.  After chasing a random customer trying to leave so he could explain that his glasses had a special chemical that made them dark, he started vocal stimming and touching all their (fragile) Easter decorations.  Then he started doing chin ups on the reception desk (a favorite sensory seeking stim for him in boring doctor's waiting rooms). 

He wasn't even close to being in a place where verbal prompts were going to reach him, but he was starting to get That Look from several people in the lobby and I needed to look like I was trying.

Thankfully, the receptionist noted my dilemma and made short work of my small transaction just as he was really starting to ramp things up.

I picked him up, cheerfully announced to those staring at us "It's Autism Awareness Month! Look! Now you're aware of Autism!" and got the hell out.