The Holidays Are Longer Now. Is That a Good Thing?
The holidays are for more than just the stuff that gets you out of your house and into a cold park after a long winter.
It is the time of year when people get together as a family, share their lives and their traditions, and even have an extended circle of friends, all while enjoying the company of good food and great presents.
There is a great sense of camaraderie among friends and family. The holiday season is, perhaps, the most important one for most of us, and this is especially true for people with chronic illness.
As well as the emotional and sensory joy of the holiday season, for many people who are chronically ill, the holiday is a time to focus on life and the people who care for them. Having a partner, a family member, or even a close caregiver to care for them can be a great resource for self-care and self-management.
For some people with chronic illness, the holidays can be a difficult time. There is the issue of having to share their time and energy with friends and family, and the physical challenges of the holidays, such as walking distance from a large group of people and the social demands of a crowded home, can be difficult for people with long-term conditions who are less mobile than some people who are healthy. In addition, many people who are seriously mentally ill, including people who are on the autism spectrum, suffer from social anxiety.
However, some people find that during this time of year it can be extremely challenging also to care for themselves.
In fact, just as people with long-term conditions are often faced with the dual burdens of managing physical and mental health, so too are people on the autism spectrum managing the emotional and social challenges of caring for their loved ones.
Autism is not a disease, but, rather, a complex set of characteristics that include social and communication difficulties, difficulty developing or maintaining close relationships, and a lack of interest in people and the world around them.
Over the years, there has been a great deal of debate, disagreement, and confusion about whether one’s life or that of a loved one with autism should be excluded from the holidays.
The debate has raged for decades.
“It’s something we’ve been facing, and it’s a huge challenge for people who live with autism,” explains Sue Gons