Christmas time can be stressful for everyone. From buying last minute presents to untangling what feels like 100 different sets of Christmas lights, everyone has their stressful moments. For someone with autism it can be just as stressful to them as to anyone else. I have found that Dian’s stressful moments are different to mine. So, I’ve decided to give you just a few tips of how you could make Christmas less stressful for someone with autism.
- Don’t feel sad because they pushed your present away – I know when you’re buying a gift for someone with autism you want it to be perfect for them so when you give it to them and they put it down or walk away from it don’t feel like you failed, sometimes new toys can be overwhelming for a child with autism, I’ve seen Dian play with Christmas toys for the first time in the middle of March and not letting go of it for a whole month. They just need time and space to get around to everything they receive at Christmas.
- They’re not being rude if they don’t want to come out of their room and see you – At Christmas it’s normal to have family visit to your home and for you to do the same but this can upset a routine in someone with autism’s home. They might find it comforting to go to their room or another place in the house where no one else would be, it would help keep them calm and feel like there’s still a routine in place. If they want to come out to see you, they will do in their own time but it’s important not to intrude in the meantime.
- If they don’t talk about Christmas it doesn’t mean they don’t like it – Everyone sees Christmas in a different way. Some may feel that putting the tree up is when Christmas starts while others feel Christmas starts on Christmas Eve when all the kids are excited for Santa to come, it’s the same for someone with autism. If they don’t talk about it or get excited when you ask is Santa coming, it doesn’t mean they don’t like Christmas time, they might think that Christmas only lasts on the 25th and the day before and after has nothing to do with Christmas.
- Don’t ask too many questions about Christmas – I know when it’s Christmas time you get excited just asking children what Santa is getting them but try to keep calm and questions short when talking to someone with autism. Christmas isn’t something that’s in their everyday routine so throwing lots of questions in their directions isn’t a good idea. Instead of asking “Is Santa coming?” ask “What do you want for Christmas?” or “What do you want from Santa?” but make sure they fully understand who Santa is not everyone child with autism does. Instead of asking “Do you have the Christmas tree up yet?” ask “Do you have a Christmas tree?” It’s easier for them to respond with straight forward questions that have a yes/no answer. I know you may feel worried about what to ask or do for someone with autism at Christmas time but please don’t leave them out because it’s easier, try your best and even consult with their parent or guardian before you talk to them if you’re really worried.
I hope you have found these tips helpful for Christmas and if you’d like any further information don’t hesitate to contact me.