Memorial Day, Fun Traditions for All!
By Tonia Ferguson
Director, Autism NOW Center
Every Memorial Day, families and communities across the nation take time to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. It was originally known as “Decoration Day” as graves were often decorated. Today, the tradition continues by having parades, concerts, displaying a flag, or visiting the National Memorials. But, for some Memorial Day may be a day set aside for picnics and outdoor activities.
No matter what your family’s tradition is, it should be a fun occasion for all, including, your loved one with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Often times, as families we think we cannot participate in holiday activities because of what we view as limitations. We hear families say they cannot attend parades or concerts because their child cannot deal with crowds or that the event is over stimulating. Or we hear a sibling saying, “My family cannot attend a concert because the large crowd is too overwhelming for my brother.” Recently, we heard from a mom who said she could not attend a friend’s cook-out because her daughter has celiac disease and only eats gluten-free, casein-free foods.
In order to help encourage the inclusion and participation of people with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities, it’s important to consider what accommodations that person on the spectrum may have when participating in an event or activity. For instance, did you know that you have the option of calling ahead of time when attending a parade or concert to ask for special accommodations, including special seating arrangements? If you visit www.autismnow.org, we have resources that can provide a comprehensive picture on understanding common supports needed for individuals on the autism spectrum and other developmental disabilities. Sometimes for an individual with a disability, a common support at an event may be a “sibling”; and we have an inspiring article from that unique perceptive on what it means to support and grow-up with an individual on the autism spectrum.
For this Memorial Day, what could be better than a picnic? Don’t deprive your family from grilling out or attending a picnic in the park if your special way of celebrating involves a gluten-free, casein-free or other special diet. Check-out the article from our Co-Director, Amy Goodman, for tips for guests and hosts of picnics and cookouts and how to create a perfect gluten free menu in celebration of the holiday.
Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer, so take time to remember, reflect and have fun during the long weekend.