Sunday, 24 November 2013

Countdown to Christmas

Now that our eldest son has celebrated his birthday this week and the anxiety that our 2 ASD children associate with this has disappeared, we can concentrate our energies onto the countdown to Christmas.

Once I became a parent I couldn't wait to share my childhood traditions. We were excited to see the faces of our oldest two children when they were toddlers coming downstairs to find the footprints of Father Christmas across the floor from our fireplace to the Christmas tree. We had the video camera at the ready to film the magical moment. Our son was ecstatic at the sight, whereas our daughter kept shouting about the mess on the floor and wouldn't open any presents until it had been hoovered up. This was years before she was diagnosed with ASD, so at the time we didn't think anything other than it was a bit odd but she was only three and so tantrums were normal at this age.  Now looking back we can see it was the change in the normal layout of the living room that had caused her to be upset and the fact that we had not prepared her for this happening.

Our youngest son has the biggest anxiety over Christmas though. Until last year he has never been interested in his presents. On Christmas Day 2011 he left his presents unopened under the tree all day and spent the day in a rage. Our oldest son ended up opening up our younger son's presents on Boxing Day and this still didn't spark any level of interest in him wanting to play with his new toys.
Last year I attended a visual aids course and one of the speakers was a mum of twin autistic boys. She made a suggestion that as ASD children do not like the unknown, a way to cope with presents is to either not wrap them up or to take a photo of what is inside the gift and use that as the gift tag. A simple idea that we had never thought of, but we had nothing to lose so decided not to wrap up our youngest son's presents last Christmas. We were amazed with the transformation as he actually played with a couple of new toys. Since then he has asked for his presents not to be wrapped up for his birthday this year and we have already written to Father Christmas to ask that he does not wrap his presents up. It does have a knock on effect in our house though as our daughter does not understand why Father Christmas will make the exception of not wrapping up her brother's presents as presents should be wrapped up in her 'black and white' world.  However, if it means he is less anxious then it's worth doing it as he will be happier on the day and as he gets older we may be able to progress to wrapping presents up, but having a gift tag with a picture of what's inside the present.  Although it may seem different to what most households do at Christmas and not what I had planned on doing for my children, it does save lots of time on wrapping up presents, so I'm not complaining!!

No comments:

Post a Comment