Giving thanks: Celebrating Thanksgiving with your Child with Autism
by Amy Kelly, Director of Family & Community Services, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, and to give thanks for the many gifts we experience in our lives.
While it’s a wonderful and meaningful tradition, it can be an emotional obstacle course for families of children and adolescents with special needs. As a mother of three children, including my 15-year-old daughter, Annie, who has severe autism and intellectual disabilities, I know what this feels like.
As a child, Annie wasn’t able to participate and enjoy Thanksgiving in the same way as my other children. But, through the years, we’ve learned to transform the holiday season into something special and exciting for all of us by finding ways to support and include Annie.
Below are a few tips to help enjoy a happy and festive Thanksgiving.
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About Amy Kelly …
Amy Kelly is the mother to Danny, Annie and Ryan. Annie is diagnosed with moderate to severe autism, verbal apraxia, intellectual and developmental disabilities and general anxiety disorder. Amy is the Director of Family/Community Services for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit providers of behavioral healthcare, and serves as a family representative on several special needs boards in the community, locally and nationally. In addition, she participates with other patients and families in efforts supported by the American Board of Pediatrics Foundation and the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network to address children with special needs and the importance of quality care.
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