Holidays As A Disabled Person:

Happy Holidays to all of my readers! The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. I love decorating the Christmas tree, and picking out gifts for my friends and family. The holidays can also be a challenging time of year for me.

Cerebral palsy makes me much more fatigued than most people. Walking and moving around leads to fatigue rather quickly. During the holidays, this feeling is more intense than usual. I like to do my Christmas shopping in the late fall so that I don’t have to be rushing around the local mall around December. This is also why I do the vast majority of my shopping online these days. I like to be in environments where I know it is already accessible for me. It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing when someone has to carry me up or down the stairs at 22-years-old. This is also why I prefer to visit family rather than stay overnight or in a hotel.

For some disabled people being in an unfamiliar place can be overstimulating. The loud music and holiday decorations can be too much for someone who has autism or an intellectual disability. If a person indicates that they feel overwhelmed, respect them and understand that everybody is different. Some people with autism or other disabilities are uncomfortable with being touched or hugged, so always ask them before hugging them and don’t force them to hug somebody.

For those who have food allergies, textural issues or dietary restrictions the holidays can also prove to be difficult. The holidays often center around food especially family meals and baked goods. If a holiday guest politely declines a food item at your house, don’t assume that they are disrespectful. Mashed potatoes or peanut butter cookies might taste good to you, but for other people, they might trigger an uncomfortable sensation or an allergic reaction. If a guest has a food allergy, try to know this before gathering together. If you are unsure of a guest’s needs, ask them.

Inclusive holiday gatherings are the best kind. All people deserve to enjoy the holidays as much as they can. The holidays are when family and friends gather together. Make sure that everyone has a place at your holiday gathering.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Grace Dow

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