*This post is based on our personal experiences of Christmas and is not to be generalised. Everyone’s experiences at Christmas can be different from each other.
Christmas is a difficult time of year for my son. There are so many changes, and for my son, keeping to a routine helps him function day-to-day.
One example of change that confused my son was a non-uniform day. He had to bring in a small donation (a box of chocolates) for the Christmas Fair in exchange to wear non-uniform. The box of chocolates was an exception to the rules, as usual, he would have to bring in £1.
Another example of a change to his routine is, for school lunch, he queues up to ask for his food. Though for Christmas Dinner, his food gets served to him at the table. There are also many changes in the school routine due to seasonal events like a carol service.
Outside of school, everywhere is getting more hectic even earlier it seems. Overcrowded places frustrate my son as he finds it difficult to cope. Sometimes when outdoor locations are busy, people accidentally bump into you. Along with having sensory processing disorder where he can struggle in busy places, my son cannot distinguish the difference between an accident and on purpose. We do try to avoid overcrowded places at Christmas time.
I create a visual planner during this season. We use a weekly planner as a whole month is overwhelming. We focus on what is happening day by day so that he can process the information. (Especially when the day is out if routine)
The planning and preparation that I do to help my son during Christmas time reduce the chances of a meltdown from happening. Regardless, the lead up to Christmas is still a struggle for him.
My motto at this time of year is what we have got, we have got, and what we haven’t got, we haven’t got. It just takes the pressure off of Christmas and focuses on enjoying this time with family.
My son sees both myself and his dad on Christmas day. We share the day equally. Seeing both of his parents on Christmas has always been part of the routine for years. As long as he is aware of who else he is seeing, ahead of time, then this plan usually goes smoothly.
We do enjoy binge-watching Christmas movies in December.
My son does not have any problem with opening presents. He is very particular with what he wants and will be vocal if he does not like something.
Christmas decorations do not bother him as he is involved with making and choosing them. He knows our display and what we put up, as we use the same decorations as in previous years, including our homemade baubles.
We do a lot of Christmas arts and crafts, which is an activity that he thoroughly enjoys.
Another tradition for my son and I is to visit my nan’s grave. We visit this time of year, as well as throughout the year. When my nan was alive, she was very much present in my son’s childhood life, and he does mention her a lot. What we do is my son chooses the Christmas flowers, and we take them down to her grave. My son gets the water for the flowers at the graveyard and then says a little prayer.
As my son gets older, of course, there are slight changes. Last year we visited a Christmas grotto at Bletchley Park. However, this year, he decided not to visit any grotto.
We will be including some Italian traditions as he has requested to have an Italian style Christmas.
My son now loves the Christmas lights and illuminations, but he does not like overcrowded places. (It is difficult knowing what to do). Are we better off going to see an illumination show after Christmas Day? Will it be less crowded? I am still trying to figure this one out.
I see no point in taking my son out Christmas shopping for presents or food. I want him to enjoy the Christmas experience and don’t want to put him through unnecessary stress. We do look online and get my son’s input this way. I do my shopping both online and instore. I save going out Christmas shopping with my partner and when my son is at his dad’s home.
Whatever my son is comfortable with doing at Christmas time is what we go with.