The Nightmare of Holiday Shopping with a Child Who Has Special Needs

Stacy Warden by Stacy Warden Additional Needs

Stacy Warden

Stacy Warden

Author of Noah's Miracle blog. Noah had suffered "global damage" to his brain. As a result the prognosis was grim. They said Noah would mostly like...

Oh no, I have to go Christmas shopping with my child with special needs.

This is where you enter a lot of frustration and you haven’t even left the house.

The anticipation of loading and unloading a wheelchair in a skiff of snow makes your fingers instantly numb.

There’s the fact your child really hates coats and dislikes shoes.

And that the gobs of holiday shoppers will gawk even more than they do on other days out.

Thoughts of long lines makes you sweaty and itchy because you know it means that your child will be on sensory overload is bound to gag and potentially vomit, then cry uncontrollably for doing so because he can’t control it.

You’ll scramble for klennex, or the sleeve of your coat, but not before sanitizing your hands because you touched a grocery cart or something on the shelf last and may introduce a life-threatening germ otherwise.

You’ll purposefully flee to the other side of the store if you so much hear another child coughing.

You know you can’t possibility spring to the isle that has a Hatchimal or NES Nintendo Classic because well you can’t run people down with your child’s wheelchair and know that in the event it was damaged by psychotic shoppers insurance would take years to repair it.

Then you get to the depressed stage – you’ll cruise isles gathering ideas or trying to prompt your non-verbal child to give you a clue as to what they’d love for Christmas.

Just like the year before you spend way too much time in the baby toy section – even though your child should have developmentally outgrown that section many years ago.

And while his mind has, his physical abilities have not.

You egg him on to knock over a toy that he has an interest in off the shelf with his athetoid movements and high extensor tone.

He does only to get a multitude of stare downs from other parents and employees who then quickly look away once they see the wheelchair and assume you simply drove him into a pile of toys carelessly.

The check-out lane.  The finish line.

But wait.  Not really.

The lines are four people deep, each filled with carts to the brim.

The are people behind you and you’ve just started putting your items up for the cashier when the person in front of you demands a price check… and then a recheck… and then has to stand and silently to think about it attempting to make the cashier uncomfortable enough to just say it’s free now please go away.

All the while your child with special needs has started to scream because they are less than thrilled with the behavior of the customer in front of you.

You just want out of the store.

You’re even willing to leave what little treasures you were able to score behind.

You just want to go home.  Retreat for your sanity.

You’re pinned and have nowhere to go other than to stick it out until the end.

You finally get your items rung up and you whip out that debit card faster than you can say, “Happy Holidays.”

And just like that you’re gone with the wind.  A blazing blur out of the store.

You get to the car and think to yourself – I finally understand the true meaning of a Nightmare Before Christmas and vow to finish out the year with online shopping.


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