Christmas with Autism

Rebecca Shayler-Adams by Rebecca Shayler-Adams Additional Needs

Rebecca Shayler-Adams

Rebecca Shayler-Adams

We are just a typical family muddling along our day to day lives. 4 kids, 1 with autism, 1 with an unknown neuromuscular condition

Christmas time, a season which makes my autistic son so uncomfortable.

My son cannot handle the loud songs, he can’t handle the crowds that happen when you go anywhere near a shop.

My son can’t handle the lights and the sparkling displays. Our home at Christmas has to be carefully decorated.

The decorations are all made from material, there are no sparkly tinsel boas in sight, there are fairy lights on the tree however these do not flash, they are just on solidly, and in fact 90% of the time they aren’t even on.

My son can’t handle the fact that the routines change so much at Christmas time.

School is out of routine as he rehearses for the school Christmas play, the classroom is changed to accommodate a Christmas tree.

At home things start to change slowly, the shows on TV start to change to be more festive, the routine starts to change at the weekend as we start to visit Santa grottos, that have been carefully selected, ones where the queues are minimal and we can book a time slot so that the crowds aren’t too much.

Ones where the music is not blaring out as you walk around to see the big man.

Christmas day is hard in itself, Christmas presents given just because it’s Christmas, breakfast is at a slightly different time, the whole family comes round to see us on one day, and dinner isn’t food we eat generally.

The bedtime routine is changed, maybe he will go to bed slightly later, maybe he won’t be able to watch as many bedtime stories as he would usually.

Just the thought of the new toys and trying to find the perfect place for them in his room fills me with dread as this causes real issues.

The emotions around Christmas are hard enough for children without autism to handle. The excitement of the whole day.

Sometimes the disappointment as you realise the present you had your heart set on hasn’t been unwrapped.  So I can only imagine what my son is feeling.

I have been trying to prepare him for Christmas already, we are already discussing what Christmas day will consist of.

We have already started to warn him that the bedtime routine may not be exactly what he wants.

We will of course try to stick to his timetable and routine, however with 3 other children this may not go to plan.

I love Christmas and everything that goes with it, however I know that Christmas isn’t my son's  favourite time of year.

I know that actually my son although is so excited about Christmas deep down he is worried and anxious about all the changes.


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