Our first holiday with our son on a special diet was Thanksgiving. We celebrated that first major holiday at home, with our own turkey and trimmings. We have learned so much since that first holiday!
Sometimes when you have a child with autism on a special diet, the holidays almost seem to become a battle of survival for a parent. My first impulse was to simply stay home all the time and not go anywhere, but the reality is that it was something that needed to be faced and worked through. We needed to enjoy the holidays, see friends, and ultimately teach our child how to function outside the home in terms of behavior and the diet situation.
Our first holiday away from home was at Eli's grandparent's. We did quite well in terms of diet. Everyone was so understanding and supportive. I think the only deviation from the diet was the accidental Dorito that Eli got his hands on. While that was a pretty big "Oops," noways we have learned to provided substitute chips.
Questions that swarm my brain when it comes to holidays include, "What will be served at this gathering? Will people be understanding of me if I bring my child something different to eat? Will my child be understanding of having something different?" These are things that run through my head for every event at school, every birthday party, and every holiday. I have come to learn to anticipate events and I am generally becoming better prepared for them all the time.
We have found that the key to successful gatherings is lots of the communication with the host, including asking lots of annoying questions! Our hosts do not seem to mind all my probing questions about how they prepare turkey, potatoes, etc. At a recent gathering, our host even set aside potatoes and beans for us before adding the allergens in his recipe. We took some of our favorites to share, and was a great gathering.
Nowdays, we have Eli, Little Bear, and myself on the special diet. Fortunately, we have learned over the years to not only survive Thanksgiving, but also to really enjoy it with our favorite recipes. We took Roast Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Walnuts to our recent gathering, and they were a big hit! Thank you to Kim Wilson for that recipe and also for her Cranberry Relish. The two together are just divine, and I can't imagine us having another Thanksgiving without them. Click on the names of the recipes in this text to view them.