I want rituals and traditions to be a big part of my life again. I remember Thanksgiving as a kid. We had lots of people sharing dinner, football, and a long nap in the afternoon. I always said I’d help with the dishes, but I don’t remember actually helping.
My life is incredibly different from my childhood days. Our Thanksgiving main course is always gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free. Mason and I make potatoes and dessert, of course, but it’s often just me and my boys, rather than a big crowd, which I love.
So now that I have an autistic son who brightens my life more than any North Star (I’m sure he can share twenty minutes of detailed information pertaining to the North Star, but that’s for later), I absolutely want to celebrate him and the condition we live with each and every moment of each and every day.
I want to celebrate autism. And check it out–there’s already a month and a special day to do just that! April!
I might celebrate with a group event in years to come, but for now, I’ll do one of the following things every April . . . and that makes my heart sing!
Here are 3 ways you can celebrate autism with your family:
Have an Honoring/Affirmation Ceremony
This, by far, is my favorite idea. Who doesn’t love to be seen!?!?! Who doesn’t love to know they’re cherished and valued!?!?! We all want (need?) that!
I have found honoring (highlighting something in their character or personality) and complimenting someone to be some of the most impactful moments in my life.
At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou
We have honoring ceremonies on birthdays and very often during our Question of the Night daily ritual.
HUGE NOTE! These celebrations can be done with any child, partner, friend, family member, coworker, etc, you adore. They will all benefit from being seen and honored for who they are!
Your intention is probably the most important aspect of this ceremony. I recommend this be done with absolutely no expectation of return compliments or honorings unless you set it up that way in advance.
Here are some examples of ways to honor and compliments you can give:
- I love when I get to hug you each morning. It makes my day so much better.
- I want to honor the creativity you work so hard on when you do your ____(whatever they love to do or build or cook or write or paint or . . .).
- I want to honor how hard you work to learn new skills. You accomplish so much because you work hard.
- I love that you are my child and not anyone else’s! It’s such an honor and privilege to get to guide you through your life.
- I love how I’ve grown as a person while raising you. I’ve learned so much and I’m excited for what the future has in store for us.
- I’d like to honor you for how well you solve problems and how diligent you are at continuing to learn new things. I appreciate the approach to life that you have, and I hope it will serve you well throughout.
- You are so beautiful and intelligent!
- The world is so lucky that you are here, and so am I. You make my life better.
- I love how we always snuggle before you go to bed. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.
Hopefully, this will be super easy for you. What does your child love more than anything? Movies? Legos? Science? Cooking? Animals?
Then a date to the movies, Lego store, museum, local cooking class, zoo, playground, park, or even grandma’s house just might be the perfect date!
We had a big playground that my kids loved to play in when they were younger. We spent many a celebration there!
Or they might love to play a certain game for a designated amount of time. This one can be difficult if you really, really don’t like to play the game, but for a few hours you could get a cup of chai and be as present to the moment as you can. (For us, this is Monopoly. Mason loves it but . . . )
The Gift of Letters!
I have a new Starbucks buddy, and he gave me this brilliant idea.
His adult daughter was celebrating her birthday. Everyone in the family wrote a letter to her about one specific year of her life, so she ended up with the same amount of letters as her age! He wrote to her about her second year of life.
- You can write a single letter to your child or loved one.
- You can have every member of the family write a letter to each other.
- You can start this tradition for birthdays, and that can be one of their birthday gifts.
- You can reach out to their friends and ask them for letters to your child.
- You can include photos of each year of their life and write a short letter about each year.
The written word can be so powerful and uplifting and it can be read over and over again, which is a gift that keeps on giving.
I hope you celebrate someone you love with one of the three possibilities. Making time for connections and taking actions of love really do create a kinder, more loving world, one where all children grow up a bit more hopeful and capable.
Always sent with love,