Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

This year my daughter decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner. We usually don’t have turkey for Thanksgiving in our house because it’s a lot of hoopla and there is always way too many left overs. So we leave the turkey for Christmas and make something else for Thanksgiving. This year my daughter decided to cook steak.

After a lot of debate about what kind of steak to use she settled on a nice New York Strip. She marinated them in a bunch of herbs all day.img_8685 She paired it all up with some sauteed mushrooms with a little garlic salt, and some sauteed asparagus with lemon pepper. Baked potatoes and some breaded shrimp finished out the menu. img_8686

I’m very proud of her for making such a great meal. I’m sad that my husband had to miss it because he was working in the hinter lands of the great north. I am comforted that I haven’t completely failed as a mother and at least she won’t starve when she’s off on her own in the next couple of years.

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Explaining Holidays to an Autistic child

The abstract idea behind holidays is not something that is easy to explain to a ten year old that takes everything literally.   
When trying to explain the complicated concept of Thanksgiving to our Autistic son we resorted to pictures on the market board. 

 We tried to explain about the pilgrims, notice the hat. That went over his head (pardon the pun).

We then worked on the most obvious trait of Thanksgiving, the food. So my husband started drawing things we might see on the table for dinner that day. Our drawings were a little…unique. 

The final effect put all together tells the story of a peacock/grouse hybrid that came through a wormhole and is facing his own demise as a dinner dish while the flying scribbled on toaster (that square thingie that was supposed to be sweet potatoes) flies to the rescue. 

I don’t really know if we got the concept across, but he keeps pointing at it and saying “Thanksgiving” so maybe it worked. 

Autism, Shopping and the GIANT SPIDER

Oh what fun…..not!

I hate shopping. Not because of Autism but because I hate shopping. I have a hard time finding what I want, I never have money, and I don’t deal with people well (I’m an introvert). Add my teenage daughter who loves to shop and wants to look at everything causing many squirrel moments (You know the ones I mean-we’re looking for socks and she sees a fluffy pillow and off she goes.) Now add my Autistic son into the mix.

In Autistic kids over stimulation is always a problem: too many people, too many lights, too many colors, too many things moving by at the speed of commerce and suddenly his ears are turning red and the whites of his eyes are turning pink. Those are a sure sign of an over-stimulated, agitation migraine headed our way. First thing to do is to find a quiet place with little or no decoration and let him get calmed down for a little bit.

Unfortunately the materialistic world we live in is driven by constant stimulation and not even the bathrooms are quiet anymore. There are often times when we will find a quiet corner of the store, like the garden center, and just hang out for a while to try and keep him from boiling over.

Now add in that ultimate fun…Holidays!

That’s right folk, holidays, when all the special crazy stuff comes out, for example, Halloween. Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween. It was always one of my favorite holidays. I love dressing up and even my son loves to play dress up. But Halloween is about scary things and that isn’t always a good thing for us now.

Let’s take the other day as an example. We went to Party America to get some supplies for my daughter’s class for their Homecoming float. Found some great stuff, but my son didn’t enjoy that store very much. To start with right inside the front door was a GIANT INFLATABLE SPIDER! It was goofy looking and stood almost 6 feet tall. It was black and white and had LED lights inside. For a normal person that wouldn’t be a big problem even if you didn’t like spiders. You know that it isn’t real.

My son, however, views the world in more of a literal sense. He was very sure that it was a real spider and that it was not safe to walk past. We almost didn’t get him in the store. Once inside, he was totally freaked by all the scary stuff right inside the door and then as we walked around he kept a sharp eye on the door just to make sure that the spider hadn’t moved or tried anything funny. Poor kid jumped at every sound and kept up a solid narrative that was mostly just the words “Spider, web, climb, giant spider” over and over again.

Some of you are thinking, “Why didn’t you just leave?” Well, life doesn’t work that way. I can’t choose one kid over the other. My daughter and her classmates needed to get the bits for their float and sometimes there isn’t another choice of store. Besides it wouldn’t matter because around the  holidays  everyone has the same type of decorations in their stores.

So once the girls had what they needed for their float it was time to leave. Unfortunately the GIANT SPIDER stood between us and freedom. William didn’t want to go anywhere near the door because the spider was waiting. He was shaking from head to toe, his ears were red and his eyes where pink.  It took a couple of tries, three teenage girls surrounding him while I held his hand in one of mine and wrapped my arm around is shoulders and then finally we got past the spider. As soon as we passed it, William burst away from me and ran out the door- straight into the street. Luckily there was no one coming at that moment, two seconds later would have had him run over but we lucked out.

All day after that he talked about the GIANT SPIDER. The spider was still dominating the conversation all through dinner and the bath. He refused to be alone in the bathroom during his bath because-GIANT SPIDER. Then it was off to bed and a running dialogue of GIANT SPIDER all through story time until he finally fell asleep. However, that wasn’t the end of it. He was up several times overnight asking about the GIANT SPIDER. Finally he got up at 5 AM and I gave up.

I don’t know how long the GIANT SPIDER will keep on keeping on for poor William but I imagine it will be closer to Christmas and then we can go back and start a whole new obsession about GIANT REINDEER!

Needless to say, I hate shopping.