It starts to creep up on me as October begins…I feel it rising as store shelves become overstocked with candy and all things pumpkin related, and spooky costumes adorn clothing racks….

As Halloween approaches, and the Holiday season lurks right around the corner, my stress level kicks into high gear. 

It all originates as I begin debating with myself as to whether we should trick-or-treat or just stay home. 

My thirteen year old son no longer cares to dress up and roam the town in search of sweets.  He’s like me – sitting home in his PJs and watching scary movies is his idea of a gratifying Halloween experience. 

My six year old daughter has multiple disabilities…she is in a wheelchair and it’s impossible to get up steps…she’s unable to eat candy or ask for treats when strangers open their doors to trick-or-treaters. 

Above all else, she has begun having severe panic episodes around crowds of people and in unfamiliar environments. 

This would not bode well for a pleasant Halloween evening out for her.

Society bombards us daily with ideals of what families with kids “should do.”  We see Facebook photos of families out happily celebrating Halloween activities.  We used to be like those families. 

When people ask me “What will Ryleigh dress up as this year?”, the pressure wells up in me.  I don’t want her to miss out on a typical childhood tradition, yet I don’t want to cause her discomfort either. 

This year, after much deliberation, we decided to simply stay home.  We chose to skip it; forgoing visits to strangers’ homes, the cold night air, itchy costumes; the frenzy and hysteria of it all. 

As her own panic/anxiety is at its absolute worst lately, we chose to not force her into participation this year. 

Being in unknown places that she’s not accustomed to causes her so much fear; it’s agonizing.  There is no joy in that. 

She’s happiest at home, just as her brother is, so that’s where we enjoyed our cozy Halloween.  We spent our evening warm, making our own treats and avoiding everything that could cause her to feel distressed.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, the stress continues to mount. 

I am digging deep to find some holiday cheer, but right now, I’m feeling only more holiday stress. 

Aside from my daughter’s anxiety, where there are multitudes of people, there is also plethora of germs.  Common colds are anything but common for our girl.

There’s always the worry of hurting feelings over having to decline invitations. 

Hopefully, we’ll have a few small, intimate get-togethers to celebrate with our loved ones, and maybe her panic/anxiety will ease a little by then. 

When you have a child with special needs, the stress of the holidays can be insurmountable. 

For us, it doesn’t stem from finding the perfect gifts or longing to have the prettiest décor. 

We want our kids to be happy and healthy….those are the components that make for a cheerful and bright holiday season for us.

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