Saturday, 30 November 2013

Strategies to cope with Christmas

With December here tomorrow, Christmas is just around the corner and at the moment if I am honest, I am thinking ‘roll on January’, as the heightened levels of anxiety in our household are soaring through the roof.  It’s such a shame as I have always found Christmas to be a magical time of year, but unfortunately for children on the spectrum, it can be a stressful time as normal routines are thrown out the window and they are confronted with sensory overload.  To try and make things run smoother for our ASD children we have adopted the following strategies:

  • Countdown chart to show how many days until it is Christmas Day.
  • Put our Christmas tree up once the children have packed up from school.  This seems to help with them understanding that now school has finished, it is time to celebrate Christmas at home.  If we put up our tree this weekend, it would be very hard for our youngest son to understand that it is not Christmas for another 24 days, as he has very little awareness of the concept of time.  He expects things to happen in the here and now.  It also reduces the stress of having to move furniture around in our living room for too long to accommodate the Christmas tree.  Our youngest son has been known to knock over our 6ft Christmas tree when he has gone into a meltdown.
  • Last year we let our youngest son decorate the Christmas tree, as we thought he would be more accepting of it and he chose to put his soft toys on it.  Although it is not what we would have chosen, it did mean that the tree stayed up for a week without being toppled over.  This week we have read a book called ‘Aliens Love Panta Claus’ about aliens that help Father Christmas deliver his presents and they decorate Christmas trees with underpants.  I’m hoping this idea does not stick in our youngest son’s mind for too long, as otherwise we could have a very unusual tree this year!!
  • We keep Christmas Day and Boxing Day just for us at home and then see family before and after Christmas, so that presents and guests are not all received at the same time.  If we visit family or they come to us, we have a quiet area, so that our ASD children can spend some time away from everything if it becomes too much for them.
  • As mentioned in an earlier blog, our youngest son does not like his presents wrapped up, so his are left unwrapped under the tree and in his stocking.  He also requests that his stocking is kept downstairs and not in his room, as he doesn’t want Father Christmas to go into his bedroom.

We don’t expect to have a tantrum free Christmas, but fingers crossed each year it will get easier and maybe one year we will have a tree decorated with tinsel, baubles and decorations, rather than Mickey Mouse and the Gruffalo!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joanne! Great post! I was just wondering if you would be able to answer my quick question I have about your blog! I'm Heather and if you could email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com that would be great!