Our Autism Friendly Christmas Festivities

Ugly sweater Christmas cookie

Each year, just after decorating our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving, I start thinking about what holiday activities our daughter, Bethany might enjoy and be able to tolerate.

For those who may not know it, Bethany has autism.

She’s also a brain tumor survivor and has developmental disabilities and seizures.

Even though she’s 20 years old now, she still usually enjoys little kid stuff!

Though sometimes she does surprise us by enjoying more age appropriate activities.

So, it’s not always easy to come up with activities she might enjoy doing.

We usually figure it all out by trial and error!!

When Bethany was younger she loved visiting Santa, so we took her every year.

But last year, whenever we drove past Santa’s igloo and asked her if she wanted to go see him she said no every single time.

This year, however, when we drove past that old familiar Igloo and saw Santa walking down the sidewalk, she got super excited and wanted to go see him.

Luckily, he was heading straight toward his igloo!!

She had a blast visiting him and in fact, the very next day she asked her aide take her to see him again!!

For those that may live near Norwich, NY,  in my opinion, this Santa is the best one to take kids with disabilities and little kids to.

There is almost never a line and Mr. and Mrs. Santa were super sweet and accommodating!

autistic girl sitting on Santa'a lap

For many years, Bethany also enjoyed riding the Christmas Carousel in Johnson City, NY.

This is just a fun night time ride with Santa.

They turn off the overhead lights during the ride so everyone can enjoy the Christmas lights better!

But two years ago, when they turned off the lights, Bethany flipped out and changed her mind.

She refused to ride and actually let it ruin her whole night.

Because it’s so far away and Bethany still hates having the lights turned off, we’ve decided not to try again for awhile

No sense in chancing making her miserable again.

Happy to be on her way to the party!

But one Christmas activity we can always count on Bethany enjoying is our annual ugly Christmas sweater cookie decorating party with her sister Rebekah and brother-in-law, William!

This year was no exception!

She was so thrilled to give Rebekah and William the presents she had made for them.

She enjoyed eating her 5 pieces of pizza and feeding Sophia the hamster some treats!

She especially loved checking out Rebekah’s manger scene and little Christmas village.

After watching, The Christmas Chronicles, on Netflix, she and William had a little dance party, then we all settled down to decorate our cookies and gingerbread house!

Keeping the gingerbread house from falling apart proved to be a bit frustrating, but brother, Jeremiah solved that problem by duct taping the insides of the walls together!!

All too soon, the party was over and it was time for us to say our goodbyes.

But we’ll all see each other again on Christmas Day for dinner at brother, Josiah and sister-in-law, Katy’s house along with a whole bunch of other people Bethany loves!

Do you have any holiday traditions you enjoy doing each year?


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Thanks so much for stopping by!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks in advance if you should decide to purchase an item through one of our links at no extra cost to you. 100% of all commissions earned from sales go directly toward providing a better quality of life for our daughter, Bethany, a brave brain tumor survivor and special girl!

If you have a minute, please check out our Amazon Store where I have put together a list of my favorite books and resources and Bethany’s favorite games and products and our Etsy Shop where you can instantly download vintage book illustrations and prints of Bethany’s paintings!

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