We’re Rockin’ Around the Holiday Season

Fall is here and the “Holiday Season” is quickly approaching. I think its safe to say that with them come a variety of emotions. As families gather for special meals, parties and celebrations, this is the time of the year that many with autism may feel especially anxious, particularly those with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Here at We Rock the Spectrum Glendale we recognize that and have developed a variety of ways to help families cope with all the unpredictable around the holidays.

This month already, the signs of Halloween are everywhere. Throughout the month we will be adding decorations to the gym to celebrate this tricky holiday. Kids can come in for Open Play and slowly get used to the surrounding changes. We have costumes for sale, which we also feature in our dress up section so kids can get used to trying them on ahead of time. Parents like myself may have already started scouring stores for healthy sweet alternatives, without dyes, or preservatives. I try as hard as I can to stick to organic and non-GMO candies. We must identify within the alluring packaging what has gluten, dairy, nuts or other highly allergic ingredients. We know there is always way too much sugar this time of the year, so at the gym we have only non-edible treats to hand out and strive to help parents avoid having to deal with hyperactivity, sleepless nights, and the inevitable irritability after the sugar crash! We will be celebrating all Halloween weekend and have an after-hours party for teenagers Saturday, October 29th 6-9pm.

For Thanksgiving, we will be closed the day of as we show gratitude with our friends and family. Like many of you, I pray my son has the impulse control to wait for everyone to say what he or she is thankful for before digging in. We will open the gym an hour early on Friday, November 25th and close an hour late to accommodate all the parents who want to shop ‘til they drop at the Americana, Glendale Galleria, or Glendale Ave shopping plaza. With a We Rock Care reservation you can let your kids play in the gym for 2-4 hours while you look for the best bargains. We will also be having a holiday sale in our Rock Shop, so while Christmas carols begin to echo everywhere, you can try and avoid the crowds with your sensitive kid and get some stress free shopping while they play in the gym. On Saturday, December 10th we will have a holiday party with our one of a kind Rockin’ Roll Santa!

During the next few months, as parents of SPD kids, we often will learn how to gracefully turn down parties which may present a huge challenge with scheduling, predictability, consistency, and special diets. When school is out for the holiday season, I wonder daily how I will get through to the New Year and I struggle to fill my son’s days with things that he loves in hopes to avoid a foreseeable meltdown. We Rock the Spectrum – Glendale will be open with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s day, and we will have special programs to keep your kids healthy, active and happy.

I can relate to those who try hard to come up with gifts for our non-verbal kids that don’t play with toys. Trust me a gift of playing in our gym for a couple of hours for some kids is far more valuable than any tangible toy. You may want to think about getting or giving gift certificates to our gym as an option this year. I listen to my friends talk about the trip they are planning to visit out of town relatives and like some of you, I struggle with where might be a good place to take a sensory overloaded, oppositional defiant, obsessive compulsive, high anxiety kid for relaxation! I too share the experience with parents who smile through their fear of what the New Year will bring. I make resolutions that I will be able to juggle more balls than last year, learn something new, stress less and find a better balance.

But at last, when the kids go back to school, and the new year is underway and the dust has settled from the whirlwind we call “The Holiday Season”, we will all have some time to ponder. Parents everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief that we made it through the precarious landscape. I try to reflect and give myself credit for having been prepared and even when not, for having navigated the unexpected. I know I when I have time I will think about all I have received this year and in the years past. I am most grateful for the support, guidance and patience of neighbors, family, friends and our We Rock Community! I am proud to say that I have gained strength over the years to forge new ground and always keep raising the bar for my son and all our special children.

I hope we can take pause over the next few months to contemplate the laughter, the joy and the surprises when our sons or daughters with autism, sit longer than we expect, wear a special outfit, try a new food, or make eye contact for the first time with a family member. I welcome you to join me in knowing that however imperfect we may feel as parents, we have been given a unique perspective through our special children’s eyes. We are here to receive their love and radiate it right back out to the world!