I have had some truly awful Christmases, ones where I just got it wrong through not understanding my son’s needs or where others influence or behaviour or demands clashed with the needs of my son. Even when Christmases went well I had the feeling I had missed out at times because of taking care of my sons needs. That is not the way I feel now, I love our pared down Christmas and hopefully it will go without a hitch but there are no guarantees.
Christmas can be a stressful time for anyone, not least for those on the autistic spectrum and their family but if you or your child melts down on Christmas Day, if a family member offends you with an ignorant remark, of you have to cancel plans because it all gets too much, you burn the dinner or it all turns to chaos here are somethings to remember:
- It’s only a day – And much like any other day and if it was a bad day then remember tomorrow is a different day,
- If you feel sad you can’t have a big family Christmas remember many people don’t have any family to share Christmas with – if you have family and friends to miss at Christmas then you are fortunate, many don’t, perhaps make some time to see them individually or while your child is elsewhere at another time or do a video call.
- Things change – next year your child may be older or anxieties lower, don’t believe it will always be this way, nothing ever stays the same and things can and do get better.
- At any point over Christmas you can decide not to plough on – you have choices, you can say enough is enough and return home, take time out or change plans, it’s ok, the world will not end.
- Neurotypical people/families have rubbish Christmas’s too – many people almost expect it. It is not the end of the world, there is always next year.
- No matter how bad things are remember the fact it is Christmas will always make it feel worse – it will seem less important/bad in a day or two.
- The people you love are far more important than any day – even if you can’t celebrate traditionally, focus on what counts.
- It’s not your fault or your child’s fault. It is what it is a high pressure time, once it passes anxieties will reduce and things will calm down.
- Remember not to focus on just the negatives – celebrate any small wins or things that went well. It’s easy to write the whole thing off because of one bad incident or meltdown.
- Be grateful for what you have – you may not have a the same bright and busy Christmas as many or it might not go to plan but don’t forget your good fortune at having a home and food or a child/children to love, many around the world can only dream of this, it’s all about perspective and how you choose to look at things.
- What went wrong will help you get it right next time – it’s a learning curve!
All this said I hope you have/have had a peaceful and autism friendly Christmas and of not there is always next year. X
If none of this is helping do please call the Samaritans UK who are open all over Christmas. You don’t need to be suicidal to ring them and they are open to anyone who needs to talk, is feeling worried, emotionally overwhelmed or lonely. There national number is 116 123.