Because it is a special time of year and Mini Me Yoga is for all children, we wanted to share what some of our different thinking Moms and Dads are doing over the holidays. Since we have a Mini Me Yoga Ambassador who has children who are different thinkers, we wanted to share her victories of navigating this very stimulating time of year with her very sensitive children; creating a positive environment that works for her family and is supportive of her children’s neurodiverse needs. Melissa writes:
I first came across the work that Kate Bartram-Brown is doing with kids yoga and mindfulness when I was looking for a way to bring in an income that would fit around my commitments, since I had to give up a typical work schedule, to care for my children who have ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders). I am gladly a Mini Me Yoga Ambassador living in the United Kingdom and I love the Mini Me Yoga 15 minutes to Happy, Healthy Kids as do my children. It fits perfectly with our lifestyle and their need for routine, visual instruction, and sensory experiences.
It is coming up to that time of year when everyone is focusing on the holiday season. The shops are decorated and stuffed full of Christmas gifts. It is all everyone is talking about and many people are excited about the festivities. As soon as the nights start to draw short and the autumn colours fill our streets it is like someone has flicked a switch and my usually calm and gentle children turn into the Grinch. Any mention of the “man in red” and we are risking a full blown melt down. There seems to be no escape from the expectation of Christmas cheer, not even at a place as safe as school. It took me a few years to work out what the problem was- blaming it on the full moon- but I realised when my eldest used to pull the Christmas tree over and all of the decorations off almost as soon as I was finished that he was finding the stimulation too much. All this sparkle, jingle bells and flashing lights was in fact the issue. Once I had started to realise this many other things clicked in my mind. They refused to open gifts, see visitors when they came, and that one time I tried to get their photograph taken with Father Christmas was possibly the worst idea I ever had. We had some hilarious events in church which at the time were so devastatingly embarrassing. There was the time when one of them ate the christingles before they were given out, candles and all. The time when the logical child with no self control decided to tell the whole church that there was no man in the sky unless they meant astronauts in the space station.
Someone suggested I used advent calendars to count them down to the big day which we tried but they either became more stressed or ate the treats when I wasn’t looking! There comes a point where you realise that you are not going to win some battles and the stress and upset it causes the children, your family and yourself is just not worth it.
So now imagine what Christmas looks like in your house for a second. Take down the decorations, lights, take the gifts from under the tree, refuse visitors to your house for two weeks and there you have it- that’s Christmas in our home. We have a tree and a little nativity scene there are no baubels, tinsel or lights. All of the gifts are chosen by the children and if they aren’t gift cards or money the children get to wrap them for themselves. There are no surprises. We don’t see much of them on Christmas Day as they are left to their own devices to ease the anxiety but I always insist that we eat dinner together (Christmas Dinner is a whole other story!).
I used to feel as though I was missing out on something but I have come to realise I have something special. I don’t have to go into those awful Christmas shops and fight over the last action figure. I get to spend this time of year in front of the fire at home with my beautiful quirky family stress free. We keep to our routines as much as possible and we have made our own traditions. On Christmas Eve we watch a Christmas movie wearing our soft new pajamas drinking our favourite hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream. Christmas Day we play board games together after dinner and the rest of the holiday we are preparing for the return to school.
It has been a struggle in the past but with a little more understanding of the needs of my children and the fact that they are maturing has made this time of year a much more pleasurable experience than I had ever expected was possible. So please when you see that parent in the supermarket with the screaming child or the seemingly rude child in church please think about what they may be going through. Remember that not all Christmas’s will be conventional, and please respect the choices people make. Just because we don’t accept your party invitations doesn’t mean we are Scrooges. Have some compassion for those who cannot join in but don’t stop inviting them because things do get easier and one day they may just say yes.
How fortunate we are that our Mini Me Yoga program is received well by children on the Autism Spectrum, and we are so lucky to have Melissa as one of our Ambassadors. We want all parents of different thinkers to know that our work does support their children and we want to hear from you! Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We wish all children and families a wonderful Christmas season, in whatever way works for you and yours.
For more information and to better understand neurodiversity, please check out Dr. Thomas A. Armstrong and his 8 Principles on Neurodiversity.
Meet Melissa Palmer:
Melissa is a mother of 4 who delivers antenatal classes, developmental baby massage and mini me yoga in Staffordshire UK. Before becoming a Mini Me Yoga Ambassador, Melissa worked as a Family Support Worker, Community Nursery Nurse and Community Development Worker in the NHS and Local Government amongst other things. She studied child development and child and adolescent metal health at university.
Melissa also volunteers her time at her local information, advice, and support service to help parents who have children with special educational needs and/or disabilities to access the help and support they need in order to have a successful time in education and she helps to run a small charity which supports other parents and carers of people with an Autistic Spectrum Condition by holding regular support group meetings and facebook support groups. In her spare time, if she lucky to get any, Melissa loves spending time with her children partner and sweetie her dog. Melissa loves to swim, practice yoga, Pilates and meditation. She has recently learned how to give an indian head massage, become a Reiki Master, started to learn bhangra dancing and joined a choir. In the future she plans to continue learning about yoga and how it can support people with ASD.