Adults and children on the spectrum alike both struggle with some aspects of Christmas.
Here are 3 tips for helping things go smoothing on the day and in the run up.
Routine change is hard for many autistic people. For this reason Christmas can become an endurance event in managing changes and anxiety.
You may observe from the outside that early changes are coped with and later changes (even if smaller) cause issue.
For me, I have more ability to cope earlier in the season. So this is where we front load any changes to routine.
We decide early what we are going to do and we make a plan. I know which days I am traveling in advance and have time to prepare my own packing.
It may take me much longer but being able to pack myself rather than ‘be packed’ by someone else in a hurry is huge. It keeps the anxiety down by making me feel in control. I can also think positively about what I am taking.
Even things like Christmas decorations can be disruptive. In my flat I have one Christmas decoration (called Mr Tinsel) and he is around all year. I don’t like my home changing so decorations are not desired.
I get spaced out and stressed in big groups. Christmas can be a very difficult period for this reason.
To make this easier I have a quite space arrange for the days leading up to the celebration so I can escape the noise and bustle.
Having the space is half the battle. Reassurance that it’s okay to use it is also important. For me, I might sometimes need prompting too.
Christmas is a time when sensory issues are even greater than normal. I massively enjoy Christmas lights but I have to be careful. It’s not unusual for enjoyable sensory experiences to become overloads.
If possible place the autistic person in control of the sensory experience. Either by providing direct controls (like the buttons for the lights) or by providing sensory defences like ear defenders and sun glasses.
I hope that helps lead to a less anxious more enjoyable Christmas for all.