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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

The Purim Nightmare: The Most ^&^#% Time of the Year for Kids with SN (and their parents)

Conquering Purim one party and costume-day at a time.
I do get a little better each year.
These kids have no problems with Purim.
In fact, they look forward to it.

It's almost over. I'm holding my breath for next week when the confetti settles and we can all put on regular clothes and maintain a regular schedule again (until all school are closed down for Corona!).

Let me paint a picture of one segment of the population: Communication issues, sensory processing challenges, anxiety, behavioral foibles, ADD/ADHD, panic attacks, apraxia/dispraxia, autism, Down syndrome, the list goes on.

Stack that list next to the adjectives of Purim: Loud music, itchy costumes, dress-up days at school, different schedules at school, days off from school, noisemakers, costumes, parties and gatherings, CANDY and lots of it, the list goes on.

This is a cocktail of disaster for children with challenges.

Purim is a time in Israel that is sometimes compared to Halloween because we dress up in costumes and get candy. But the comparison ends there.

Halloween is a one-day affair. Purim, on the contrary, has taken on a week-long aura of utter madness, and even involves, in great Jewish tradition, drinking and making merriment even until till one falls on his or her face in a drunken stupor, if need be!

The child-friendly version doesn't involve alcohol, but instead there are many "happenings" which are essentially parties with loud music. And to exacerbate the entire season, the main Purim prop is called a noisemaker.

We also have a weekly schedule of weird ways to dress for school such as hat day (as if I ever put anything on my head); pajama day (contrary to what I've learned that we change from pajamas to clothes otherwise I should not be going to school), backwards clothes day (never in my pedantic book should that be allowed, not to mention having a shirt tag itching my throat), and, ultimately, all of these are merely appetizers leading up to the main affair: costume day.

Unfortunately for our school, costume day was postponed due to coronavirus so we still have that ahead of us.

We also give and receive gifts, traditionally comprised of sugar-filled, food-dyed candies and other such items. This brings to utter ruin any ounce of stable brain function and placid behavior that was left.

The increase of sugar, plus the silliness of the week creates a party atmosphere which disrupts our normal schedule.  I am a mess if not on a schedule. Look, I already find it hard to function on "normal" let alone throw some madness into the mix.

All around the world of special needs there are meltdowns, anxiety attacks and bouts of stimming. On a Facebook page for parents of special needs, the repeated cries are: "Purim sucks," "Purim is a disaster,""I hate Purim!"

Many SN parents strategize Purim months in advance. Some solutions include: Dressing their kids in character T-shirts instead of an actual costume; wearing costumes all year round to ease Purim day; refusing invitations to certain/most events, dinners and friends' houses knowing an inevitable meltdown will cause the entire family to flee in the middle of an event; and lastly, investing in some good earplugs.

These parents are drinking alcohol just to sober up, not to "make merry."

This year, the seasonal drink of choice for Purim is:

 Happy holidays!

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