New Year is always a strange time. In one way everything is finished; things build up to Christmas and New Year, and when it`s done we start over from the beginning again. But on the other hand everything just carries on. We are only part way through the academic year, for example, and people still have to go in to work as normal. It is very strange that just because we change the calendars over, we celebrate. Nothing is actually over, and nothing is actually beginning. Even sports seasons don’t begin or end at this time of year. So, we have a massive change which doesn’t make much logical sense, and traditionally requires a lot of social interaction. It is no wonder that people with autism can struggle with New Year.
When I was younger I never celebrated New Year. I just saw it as a good excuse to stay up late, watching films and eating. I still do. I have never been out drinking or partying at New Year – I don’t enjoy those things anyway. I have never even been bothered singing Auld-Lang-Syne or saying `Happy New Year`. It’s not that I have anything against these things – I just don’t do them. There is no thought process behind this, or any conscious effort to avoid it – just as I would imagine if a neuro-typical person did say ‘Happy New Year` or `A Merry Christmas` it isn’t something they would think to do, it would just come naturally. It is not a case of being miserable. I am just quite happy sitting around watching films, and not doing much else, as I would be on any other night.
I suppose that for some people with autism pretending New Year`s Eve doesn’t exist might be helpful. Others might fully embrace it, and have fun going out and partying. It is really not important what you choose to do. The most important things are; number one, not to give in to pressure from friends and family to do something you don’t want to do – even if this is something as seemingly simple as holding hands, and singing. And number two, to be aware that going in to a new year is a big change, and of all the pressures this can bring.
If you are struggling with the change look at it this way – what really changes? Just one digit in a number. It is the half-way point of most sporting seasons, the mid-way point for colleges, universities and schools, and nothing really for people who work. It is just another way of measuring-off a bit of time. If you want to use that unit of time to say `by the time it is this date again I will have done this, this, and this` then that is good. But really you might as well use your birthday, or Easter as a way of marking the passage of time. Putting pressure on yourself to achieve certain things, or do certain things because it is a new year is pointless, and overly stressful. But maybe this is just my logical, autistic way of looking at New Year?