5 top tips for autistic parents at Christmas

Ah Christmas, that time of year when you’re frantically trying to juggle actual real life with the million other things that the time of year throws your way! Don’t cry over spilt turkey gravy, blow the fuse on your cracker or

1. Plan, plan and plan s’more!

We all know the date that Christmas falls right? Why do so many of us fail to plan for something we know is coming all year long. Planning for your budget throughout the year means the financial constraints on your purse is lighter in December, especially if you are the only earner in the household. More to this add autism in the mix.

Theatre trips, shopping trips and family get togethers at this time of year can all lead to meltdown’s on an epic scale. Make life a little easier by planning. Know where the exits and toilets are. Try and park your car close to exits and use it as a calm space for your child. Ask if some shops and cafe’s have quiet areas. You’d actually be surprised how many retailers offer quiet rooms for children with sensory overload. Take their favourite music, ear muffs or headphones, anything that comforts your child with you. If a meltdown happens, don’t apologise to your company, simply get to the car and sit, or go home to get calm.

2. Don’t feed the creditors

In previous years my children have been just as happy to play with the packaging their toys have arrived in rather than the toy which cost the earth to buy. Make sure you have a reasonable list of what your child wants on the big day, this can be a challenge if they are non verbal but not impossible. Give yourself a realistic affordable budget and stick to it. Don’t carry Christmas into the New Year if you can help it at all

3. Change your tone

It’s so easy to let the frantic essence of people around us affect our tone. Try not to get too anxious and hard as it may seem relax yourself whilst in the throng of the Christmas and don’t fall into the trap of snapping or raising your voice. Keep your communication calm, effective and concise, this will keep the kids calmer and feeling in control. Empower them.

4. Make time for yourself

Even when part of a marriage or lasting relationship this is such a difficult thing to do. Life revolves around our children and when they have added needs we overcompensate with time, and money. As a single parent it’s so easy to completely disregard the I for the We, and your needs take a top shelf and gather dust. It’s vital at this time of year especially to save your own sanity, take some time to yourself, try and talk to friends or even have a night in with a good friend if you can’t find a babysitter. Try and remember who you are, and happier parents of course make a happier child. Treat yourself in small ways. You’re special too.

5. Communicate effectively with others

Many people still don’t understand autism. You may get comments like “can’t you control your child” or on the other side of the coin people who try and give your child things without prompting (kindness of strangers at Christmas!), which happens to upset my boy. Be effective, my child has autism, be kind, “I don’t mean to offend you at all…but…” is a great way of starting a conversation to someone who is heading your way with a candy cane for your child.

Most importantly enjoy the season, and try and remain positive and in control.