Many people complain “Why should we make THEM comfortable?” The “them” in this case being a person with neuroatypicalities. There is a pervasive and ableist misconception and belief that a NA person can “make themselves act normal” or is just “acting out” or can be ignored, forced to fit a mold… And so on. If you are going to host a NA person or a family with a NA child not just for the holidays but any event, be it a family get-together or a ritual, circle, or holiday, it is important to recognize ableist beliefs and practices most of us have been raised with, and recognize they are harmful and reductive. If you are not willing to acknowledge there will be needs that must be met, that it is not according “special privileges,” and it is not “allowing bad behavior”, then you need to admit that you are not going to welcome this person (and probably their families and friends) into your home. Better to make it known you are ableist before the fact.
Things to know when having a person with neuroatypicalities in your home:
Stimming happens. Deal with it. It is not meant to annoy you or “get attention”. It is a fact of life for many NA people, especially those with Autism. It is not a slight against you or a joke.
Sensory needs can differ greatly from a neurotypical person’s needs. Some NA people may be sensitive to sound, taste, texture, visual input… And some may seek it out. Most people with these needs have family who are aware, or, if they are old enough, are aware themselves, about how to meet the needs in a safe way. They will most likely bring supplies or something to meet the needs with them in the case of oral motor input and sometimes texture/touch, but if not, ask if there is anything you can do to help or if there is something that will aide in meeting the needs you have on hand.
Some people who are NA have “volume issues.” Many people from ‘outside’ think the person is attention seeking or hyper or poorly disciplined. The fact is, sometimes there’s no volume control. Loud speech, verbal stims (chirping, squeaking, shouting, singing), things like scripting (reciting memorized lines or scenes from movies, commercials, t.v. shows, conversations…) offer the NA person an outlet for feelings, communication and are basically a way to convey what they are feeling. “Shushing” them or rolling your eyes or asking if they can “keep it down” or “stop it” are not helpful nor conducive to healthy experiences.
This may sound horrible to a lot of people but it’s frankly just a situation. Not all NA people have these issues, not all of these issues are on the “severe” end of the spectrum, but those that are… just are.
The only tip you really need for playing host to a neuroatypical person for any reason is: don’t be a jerk. Accept they are different and you will not be able to force them or beg them to “be normal” for a situation and if you feel you cannot handle having this person at your event, no matter what it is, be open about that and know that you are being ableist (“but it’ll ruin the ritual! dinner! drum circle!” sounds acceptable to most people when talking about someone with a NA issue but try substituting any other problem or adjective and see how that sounds: “They have blond hair! They’ll ruin the dinner! They’re Jewish! They’ll ruin drum circle! They’re Buddhist! The ritual will be ruined!”).