Under The Bar: They are NOT Angry Birds! The Holidays

TAGS: special needs, angry birds, holidays, christmas, dave tate

The Holidays

I’m back!


You see what I did here, right? I took a risk and stepped outside my comfort zone and wrote "Under The Bar: They are NOT Angry Birds!" This went over really well and convinced me to press on and make a series out of it. The support, suggestions and advice offered in the comments section of that first article were awesome.

Then, I continued with the series with Parts 2.1 and 2.2. Soon after came Part 3 and You Are the Parent. While great installments, there was one thing missing from them all...me! As noted, these were great installments and I plan on recruiting as many parents, consultants, doctors, educators and adults who have “special needs” as I can to make this a series that has the potential to those looking for answers or at least help them ask different questions.

I saw a chance to pull out and hide and took it. This is not something I’m afraid to admit. This topic does make me uncomfortable because I personally lived it and am now living it again as a parent. As I sit here and write this, all I can think about is, what will he think when he grows up and reads this? How can I offer this advice, but not open up too much of my own personal life, history and present situations? If I do speak the truth on what I've seen and dealt with, will it negatively effect my son’s education? Do I really want to expose the mistakes I made as a parent and husband? Do I really need to do any of this? Will it even matter?

My simple answer when I get stuck in uncomfortable situations or having to do something I don’t want to do is…

Do it anyway!


In the gym there are many days I just don’t want to be there, but I go anyhow.

In business there are certain things I do not want to do, but I do them anyways.

There are risks in life I didn’t want to take, but did so anyhow.

The days I went to the gym when I didn’t want to, were those days I felt drained, beat up, stressed and had other things to do. The odds of injury were MUCH higher, but I still went and pushed with all I had.

In business, I’m driven to pursue the vision of the company no matter what it takes. There are many decisions and situations where the company has to come before my own personal wants or needs. At any time, it could all be blown away. I build it anyway.

I have dreams that seem SO far off, but have dreamed them for so long they aren’t going anywhere.

I’m constantly told how bad the economy is and that our future is going to be a giant mess. I don’t watch, read or listen to the news, so I press forward regardless.

Things rarely work out the way I want, the work always takes longer and is harder than I imagined, there always seems to be “something” that is creating uncertainty, but I keep pressing forward anyhow.

I can put myself into this article and have it forgotten by the end of the week but as you see, I’m writing it anyhow.

Every time you get close to the edge and look down, your stomach turns BUT the hole doesn’t look so deep the next time around.


For the Kids


I’m doing this for the kids. Look, I completely understand I’m not an expert when it comes to special needs and have much to learn. I will never claim to say I'm an expert and I’m sure you'll get sick of reading me write this. I also understand all kids are different – even those without special needs. One child with Autism may respond completely different to another who is also on the spectrum. One child with Asperger Syndrome will be completely different than another with the same syndrome. Just like the child down the street isn’t the same as your own. Those who say we are all the same and respond to stimulus the same are full of crap. If life was only that simple – how easy (and boring) it would be.

As I mentioned in the first article, what I can offer are tips and suggestions that worked for my family and keep the comments open for others to share tips and suggestions of their own.

Holiday Tips


Merry Christmas!

Christmas is a great time of the year for everyone. It is also a time of the year when children flip their lid, are excited and for the most part their routines are majorly impacted. School is out, there are numerous social gatherings, baby sitters or day care. Their entire life is flipped upside down and...they LOVE IT! Think back to how cool it was to be on Christmas break. Oh I forgot, they also spend most of their waking hours telling you different things they'd like to add to their “list.”

Below are some tips we’ve found helpful.


Daily Agenda

Let them know ahead of time what will be going on for that day, or better yet, the night before as well as that morning. Reinforce where you'll be going, who will be there, if it'll be loud (if you child uses headphones remember to take them),  and what there will be to eat. If they're on a special diet, remind them that you'll be packing their food. Actually, it’s a good back up plan to pack their food in case they don’t like what is being served. If there could be something there that could set them off, let them know ahead of time so they are prepared (and you need to be prepared with a back up plan). You need to be honest, don’t down play anything. Don’t take them to a concert and tell them it won’t be “that” loud. You KNOW it will be loud, so tell them and bring your noise reduction headphones and be prepared to leave if you have to. If you decided to bring your child to an event that you KNOW has triggers that might set them off, then be prepared to leave if you have to. I don’t care how bad YOU want to see the show. If this is about your enjoyment and you really want to see the show, then find a sitter. When you decide to bring your child, you made it a family event and families stick together. Lastly, if you get upset because you did have to leave, I suggest you take a long look in the mirror and ask who really has the problem in this situation.

Back Up Plan

I mentioned this a couple times already, but you need to have a back up plan in place. As noted, every child is different, so one back up plan may be different than another. For many of these children, they will need private space to regroup as well as something to do. This could be a spare bedroom with their favorite toy. This needs to be a space where other kids know to stay out of. The actual plan doesn’t matter, you know what they need and what works, just make sure to have a plan in place.

The Car and Travel

OMG! Anytime you have more than one child in the car and have to travel more than 30 minutes, it can become a total nightmare. The solution – Xanax. Okay, just kidding, that the last thing you want when you need to drive a long distance. I’m not sure there's a real solution to this one, except to learn how to tune them out the best you can. Movies, handheld games, books, or anything else than can make a dent should be used to their full advantage. All the basic things like 20 questions, I spy, and making a couple pit stops can also help.

It will also help if you let them know how long it will take and speak in terms they will understand. If the children are young and still don’t understand the concept of time, you can tell them it will take as long as one TV show, as long as one movie, two movies, you get the point.

A side note to this, we learned to try and keep them awake all the way home. If they fall asleep, there's a really good chance when you get home and want to relax that they will be well-rested and ready to tear the house apart. Keep them awake so when you get home they will go to bed and pass out.

Reinforce Behavior

Discuss what you feel is appropriate behavior and what you expect from them at any holiday event. You don’t need to provide them with a long list of what is right and wrong, but you do need to tackle what you feel is the most important. Kids are great because they say and do the funniest things at the most inappropriate times, but manners still matter. They should be reminded…

  • To thank others for any gifts they receive.
  • To not get upset if they get a gift they do not like.
  • That you do not give and expect to receive. You give because you want to and should never expect anything in return.
  • To be patient and take turns.
  • To remember there are many others less fortunate than they are and be grateful for the things and family they do have.
  • Use good table manners.
  • You will have lots of hugs and kisses and we know these drive you nuts – but deal with it. There are many kids who won’t have either on Christmas day.
  • Today we are celebrating a birthday and this is what this is all about.

I guess when I go back and read much of this article, it really isn’t about children with special needs is it?

Merry Christmas!


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