Peace on earth and goodwill to all men….
Not always true at Christmas! Close proximity to relatives, too much food and over-excited children can be a recipe for disaster in any family. Then you add into the mix a child with special educational needs, and BOOM!
But, this year Hubby and I are quietly congratulating ourselves on getting it right.
In the run-up to Christmas my Facebook and Twitter feeds were full of other SEND parents dealing with anxious or autistic children finding it hard to deal with the change in routine. Most children love the release from lessons for nativity plays, Christmas crafts and so on, but for some it is an incredibly difficult time. Thankfully, this is not an issue for us – all the excitement just passes Pudding by. When other adults ask ‘Is he looking forward to Christmas?’ the simple answer is – he doesn’t have a clue. I recently wrote about him being cognitively around the level of a two year old. But how many two year olds don’t understand about Santa and presents?
I’m glad that we could still enjoy all the Christmas preparations with T (any reservations he had about Santa’s existence disappeared when December came!), but this year I let go of the need to include Pudding. It’s not fair to ask him to help put out mince pies for Santa when he’ll just want to eat them himself.
It’s not worth buying him lots of presents when he still hasn’t played with many that he got last year.
There’s no point wrapping presents when he doesn’t want to open any. (Endearingly, he looked so happy when given a wrapped parcel, and did wave it around happily showing everyone, but then wandered off.) I just put his things in one big gift bag that he then tried to stuff Hubby’s slippers into as well.
On Christmas Day itself, he woke up a bit later than usual so T’s stocking was already open and I was free to get Pudding’s breakfast – definitely more important than presents in his view! Later he did his usual thorough job of pulling all the books off the shelf while we opened our presents. We had a lovely walk in the woods with Sister and family, where he could chase around with his brother and cousins. Then he pretty much watched films on his tablet for the rest of the day while we relaxed*, chatted, played games and drank.
So we might not have given him the perfect picture-book Christmas, but we gave him the perfect Christmas Day for him. And to top it all, at dinner we discovered that he loves roast parsnip – what a day!
(* Special shout-out to Sister and her partner for sterling work in the kitchen to allow this. I made the vegan main, and the Christmas cake but that was about it.)