Christmas is fast approaching and for both parents and children who are on the spectrum this can be a difficult time of year. Decorations are everywhere you turn while the shops are noisy and crowded, but wait, Christmas is a few weeks away. My youngest son, Tom who is autistic already thinks it is Christmas! It is so confusing for him.
Firstly…deep breaths and do not panic. This time of year can be very unsettling for children on the spectrum and their anxieties can become quite evident. I know with my little boy that he is experiencing anxieties at school and at home due to the whole Christmas build-up, but there are a few things that may help. After all Christmas is a happy time.Here is what helps my son.
1. Christmas countdown calendar – A visual timetable can really help. We have a calendar that shows days at home, days at school and when it is Christmas day. He can clearly see how many days there are until the big day itself.
2. Get presents ready – So this means before you wrap them, take away any fiddly packaging, pop in batteries and make sure that they work, this will save a lot of frustrations on the day itself.
3. Give family gift ideas – Tell your family what presents your child may like, such as any sensory gifts or learning tools. Failing that you can always ask for the money and then choose the gift yourself so as to make life easier for everyone involved.
4. Involve your child in making decorations – We often sit and make decorations at home, my eldest son loves making snowmen and elves from toilet roll holders. We always try and encourage Tom to make decorations as well, but there is no pressure! This gets him ready for the the celebrations and the fact that the house will be decorated and will look different.
5. Do your own thing – Do whatever works for your child and your family and do not listen to what others say you ‘should do’. You know your child best. For example when we will all be tucking in to chicken, roast potatoes and ‘pigs in blankets’ on Christmas Day, Tom will be sat eating chicken nuggets and ‘tubby toast’, but you know what, he’ll be harpy and that is all that matters.
We would love to hear any suggestions that you have, please add your tips below.