Christmas and Autism

Christmas... The most wonderful time of the year right? That's not always the case for some autism families, it can be the most difficult. In the past Christmas has been a struggle for us, but we now have a sure-fire routine that fits us and our family and makes Christmas as enjoyable as possible for us. We all had a blast this Christmas, no meltdowns, everyone was happy and we saw most of our loved ones.
The Tree
It HAS to go up on December 1st, that's when the kiddies get their calendars. I was always 12 days before and 12 days after until the kids came along. For them if they are having a Christmas count down then the tree has to be up, so now it is. It is only up for 25 days, our tree comes down on Boxing day evening. Once the family leave on Boxing day Christmas is over and the kids like a routine to return to normal. This enables them to get through the period on lax routine and know that there is an end coming.
The Presents
It can be really tricky buying presents for kids on the spectrum as they have some very unusual tastes! I have had requests for DS games only available in America, character toys for TV programmes that finished decades ago and even a foot long gummy bear!! The rule when it comes to presents is if they ask for it they get it if it's possible to make it happen. The kids were kind to us this year and all requests were manageable. Spud threw a last-minute one on us a week or so before Christmas for a piano!! Thank you for Amazon prime he was able to get one, he was adamant it was on his list, I know it wasn't as I am list buyer. Luckily for us none of the kids are believers, so we don't have to figure out what Father Christmas brings and whats off us, its all from us, no confusion.
Christmas Eve
Our Christmas eve start with the kids Christmas eve hamper, they have a joint one. Every year their Aunt always gets them an assortment of goodies for the box. This year was pop tarts, popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows. We added their Christmas eve PJs and some choccies, it's very minimal. I have nothing against people who go all out and pack a box but Christmas is expensive enough and they love what they get. This year we opted for a Chinese for dinner, minimal washing up and everyone can have what they want. We then eat the contents of the Christmas eve box and watch a film together. Once the 3 younger kids are in bed we set about sorting the gifts into piles. L is allowed to open his gifts alone in his room on Christmas eve when the kids are asleep. He doesn't cope well with the madness of Christmas morning and he prefers to stay out of the way. Once he's done and in bed, we sit and open our gifts as we don't get a second Christmas morning.
Christmas Day
You can 100% guarantee it's me awake first waiting for everyone else and this year was no different! They were all up by 7.30am and ripping into their gifts. It's all a bit crazy with 2 over-stimulated ASD kids. As soon as they are done I like to move all their stuff to their rooms so they can arrange them as they like. This gives them time to go away, destress, realign and calm for the rest of the day. We don't actually get dressed on Christmas day, its a PJ day so we can all chill, play with toys, eat lots and enjoy. Its a very laid back affair, my Mum and some of my siblings are usually at our house for dinner. My lovely Mum cooks and she exceeded herself again this year. This years evening entertainment was all about Gavin and Stacey and it was soooo worth the 10 year wait!!
Boxing Day
Our favourite day of the festive period, its when my whole family head to my house. It's an open-door policy and everyone is welcome (well family) The kids love it and so do I, I do a huge buffet, play Christmas music, get to see my Nieces and Nephew it's just amazing! For years this was held at my Dads house, but as the kids came along it just made sense to hold it at my house. It usually ends with me playing hunt the remote!! My brother has a great joy in hiding the remote before he leaves! Last year he went on Facebook live from the car on his drive back to Yorkshire and played hot or cold with me..... he's a comedian!! He only does it as he knows my most hated thing is not being able to find the bloody remote! Beat him to it this year though and hid it before he arrived!! We all had a go of Dj's new PlayStation VR this year and it was loads of fun. I managed not to over cater this year and didn't have masses of leftovers. Once family have left and the kids are in bed we start to take down the decorations!
Return Of Routine
The day after boxing day is like Christmas never even happened and that's just what works for our family. We fall straight back into a half-term routine. It helps the kids keep calm and grounded and for them once they have had their presents and seen their family its all over and done with! We don't celebrate New Years, I have always found it a bit depressing, not sure why, but you can guarantee me and Dave will be in bed well before midnight! We had such a fab Christmas period and already looking forward to this year's celebration.
Thanks For Reading
Mandy
xxx

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