Christmas and Autism means a whole mixed bag of emotions and feelings for our family that most others take for granted.
While most readers of this blog are busy spending December decorating their houses with beautiful decorations, we have to keep them minimal as this causes Theo to get anxious and highly strung. Where most people are taking their children to see Santa, we’re trying to teach Theo that this jolly happy person isn’t someone that is supposed to terrify him. While other people are taking their children to deliver presents and cards to friends and family we’re trying to get Theo to accept a change to his normal routine to be able to do this. While other people are taking their children to Christmas parties we’re trying to get him settled because he’s came into contact with too many people that have given him a sensory overload. While other people are putting Christmas presents below the tree and watching their children getting really excited to see them grow in piles and guessing what’s underneath the wrapping we’re locking the presents away because anything with wrapping paper around it makes Theo nervous because he doesn’t understand that it’s something that’s to be saved for a specific day and he can’t have it til then!
Theo absolutely loves Christmas Day however, Christmas day to us is like most other families, getting up at silly o’clock to see the kids opening their presents however that’s probably where the similarities end to most families,
Theo tears through his paper, carefully making sure that every scrap goes into the rubbish bag, neatly organising his new things into their specific piles, clothes in one pile, toys into a box, books in a colour specific order, money into the money jar and so on … If one of his brothers are making a mess he’ll stop opening his presents to make sure that their mess is tidied up then return to his when he’s satisfied.
At dinner time we’re at his Grandma Julies, with many other members of the family, which in hand makes him anxious and will melt down until he can start eating dinner, he’ll do things that he knows that he’s not allowed to do, keep pulling at either his Dad’s face or my face to get our attention focused onto him again. When dinner is served he’ll settle again and we’re sorted out, as long as there is nothing green on his plate! After dinner we’re back to the Mum and Dad attention seeking until the buffet is put out for when the rest of the family arrive. When he’s eating again he’s all happy, however Theo has no understanding of what feeling full or being hungry is, so he’d pretty much eat until he is sick.
When we return home he wants straight to bed, the day has been far too much for him and he just wants to be in a dark room with his familiar surroundings.
On Boxing Day he takes a bit more interest in his new things, he’ll take them into his room and self adapt to them being there, if there’s anything that he doesn’t like he will not accept it being in his room until he’s gotten used to the item. We spend the day encouraging him to interact with his new toys, sometimes he’ll cooperate! Mostly he wont however because they’re a change in his routine.
Autism makes our Christmas a very interesting time! I wouldn’t change it for the world tho!!