I never used to feel this way. Though I have spoken freely about my own difficulty with this particular festival, I have always loved the ritual aspects of Passover. From Shabbat HaGadol through Shivi’i Shel Pesach, the structure of the seder, the special reading from Song of Songs, Yizkor — my life is enriched by the carefully selected observances. Like so many Jews, some of my most-cherished childhood memories are of seders from years past. With beloved relatives and friends, now gone, still youthful and full of zest.
No longer. As the mother of a child on the spectrum, this holiday is a nightmare. From start to finish.
Some time ago, PC and I took a class meant to help us better understand Beernut’s behaviours. One of the most lasting take-aways has been the ABCs. Not those ABCs. The ABCs of Behaviour Modification.
In other words, as Beernut-specialists, PC and I ought to be able to help Beernut avoid meltdowns by knowing which antededents will set him off. We took this class before Beernut had a diagnosis that placed him on the spectrum. While some of the methods crossover, the ABC approach presents the following problem: Beernut’s antecedents are inconsistent. A hallmark of Asperger’s, as it turns out. What we have learned is that there are some constants as far as Beernut is concerned. While we are not able to accurately predict all the possible antecedents that will cause a meltdown, we know that the following situations are a sure-thing:
- any change in schedule
- late nights (in Beernut’s case, after 7:30pm)
- clothing (he has sensory integration issues)
- doing anything that will draw attention to himself (which seems incongruous for a kid who has major meltdowns in public)
I feel as though we have set Beernut up for failure by placing so many stumbling blocks before him.
If Beernut had to stay up late for just one seder and not three, dayeinu.
If Beernut had to wear a button-down shirt and not also wear nice pants, dayeinu.
If Beernut had to listen to the seder and not read the Four Questions, dayeinu.
If Beernut had to refrain from bread and not refrain from all leavened products, dayeinu.
See what I mean?
As we have removed the chamtez from the crevices, I pray that You help me remove the resentment that sometimes rises within the recesses of my heart.