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Christmas - Autism Chapter 14

Thursday, 20 October 2016  | 

Christmas There is nothing I love more than Christmas.

It is without any doubt my favourite time of the whole year. I love everything about it; the decorations, the giving of presents, having the whole family round to visit, the excitement on the faces of the children. As a child my Christmases were always magical. It was one thing that I can honestly say my mum could not possibly have made any better. She somehow kept the magic alive well past our childhood, and even in our early twenties our excitement about the following day would make sleeping the night before difficult. For Child Number One the time is somewhat more challenging; not helped by a pathological fear of the man in the red suit. No amount of bribery and corruption will entice her to visit him, and even the thought that he is likely to be around if we go out for the day causes her a great deal of stress. Apparently if she could be assured he was ‘the real one’ he would be tolerable (still scary but more understandable); the fake ones (which she deems all those in England to be – after all the real one she reasons is too busy packing his sleigh) however she has decided are too creepy for words.

Unfortunately Father Christmas isn’t the only cause of her stress at this time of year. She loves to buy presents for others, but hates how busy and noisy the shops are. Writing her Christmas list is a peculiar kind of agony. Mostly because unlike most children, she can never think of anything she wants. She enjoys to read and to draw, but ultimately there are only so many crayons and books any child needs. She finds receiving presents difficult, especially if they are large in size. New things change the look of her room, and that for her is the worst thing of all. At school there are carol concerts and shows (both things she loves), which change the order of her day, the lessons and who is teaching them (something she definitely loves less). Then there is the day itself. A peculiar mix of anxiety and excitement means she rarely sleeps well beforehand. Then the family (who she adores) descend upon us. On mass (which is harder). She opens presents with excitement yet meticulously. Every piece of rubbish is carefully disposed off. The one element of chaos she can make sure is controlled. At lunch she loves to pull crackers and tell the predictable and scripted Christmas jokes but eats little, with anxiety her appetite decreases. Then comes meltdown. The excitement of the new presents overwhelmed by the anxiety of where they will live. Sometimes I wish she was messy, though I’m all too aware that my own mum must have wished the opposite. Tidiness never has been really my foray. Sometimes even the magical comes with challenges. The best days can also be the hardest. Those are the days I wish life was different; that I could give her a childhood more like my own.