I’ve probably been fairly up-front with the fact that I’m not a huge fan of Christmas – at least insofar as how it seems that we’re all being smothered by it once we get to Halloween, and worse as we go through November and December. (I’ll admit also that I’ve actually permanently banned, in my car, the two radio stations that switch to Christmas-only after Thanksgiving. Do we really need a solid month-plus of holiday tunes?) To me, the bigger problem is trying to make sure, with a son on the spectrum, that he understands about Hanukkah.
The first part is the harder one – since he’s inclined to repeat things he hears in his environment (because the Monster has echolalia), it’s very easy to ‘plant’ the prevalent culture on him and not be able to dislodge it. That’s the nice way to say that, since one of the Elmo’s World songs is to the tune of Jingle Bells, that we’ve caught him singing that very song in the house. And yes, we even went through the risk of taking him to Sesame Place with the knowledge that it too was all Christmas’d out, knowing that it could easily cement more such things on him.
The second is… well, not so much harder as just more complicated. Let’s be honest – the reason that there is so much Christmas and not so much Hanukkah is because there’s just not a lot of us here in the States. There just really aren’t a lot of good resources online that I’ve found yet for trying to teach a child with Autism about Hanukkah.
Yesterday, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (@JTANews on Twitter) passed out a link to Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, a site that specializes in special-needs Jewish education. One of the features on the site are cards from the Boardmaker app that the Monster has used in his PECS board, but also social stories for the basic issue that is the ‘biggest’ concern to us at the moment – Hanukkah candles. He loves candles, especially on cakes… and doesn’t get yet not to blow them out. I’m hoping to use the story to get him to understand that we don’t blow out the candles in the menorah…
A different version of the social story can be found here (not as fond of this one), but I still don’t see a lot of resources online for the holiday… maybe it’s incentive for me to make some up myself, if I can find the time.
If I find more resources, I’ll post them here.