With the chaos of Christmas over, I thought I would share our top 5 tips that we use to survive the Christmas and New Years period with little Mr.
As many will testify, the big changes, the chaos, that happen to the routine and environment over Christmas can be quite overwhelming for children, and adults, who have a diagnosis of ASD.
Then you have changes such as decorations being put up all around them, in the town, houses around them as well as, potentially, in their house too.Changes in routine, school and work holidays.
So, over the past few years - these are 5 things we have learned that help us all through the Christmas and New Years period.
We've learned over time that putting up the decorations when little Mr is awake is an issue for him. So, our first tip/thing we have learned is to put up most of the Christmas decorations on the evening when he is asleep. We also set up the tree ready to be decorated. Then, the only thing that is left is for our daughter to help put the decorations on the tree. This allows her to get involved, but for little Mr, the change has already happened so he doesn't get worried about all the changes happening before his eyes.
Little Mrs routine now involves going to his school 5 days a week. Christmas holiday, end of term means 2 weeks of break from that routine. To change a strict routine can be quite a change. So, we try to get out daily when we can. Get out, do things, make sure that he (both our kids) are doing things daily.
So another big thing can be all the change, where houses suddenly have bright and flashing lights all over them. Again, can be a bit of a change - as well as quite a stimulating one.
Personally, we tackle this head-on by getting out in the car and making a big thing of the lights. We point them out, make it fun and hope that this big visual change doesn't overstimulate him. These lights all over can make the places you and they know look completely different, so it can be quite scary too.
So, Christmas day, the entire routine changes. First thing in the morning the kids come down and there is a pile of presents. This means that the lounge, the place that is one of the safe places, is different. Then you have our daughter ripping off the wrapping paper, hading presents to little Mr. and try to get him to open his.
It's quite overwhelming. So, we handle this by letting him choose to open presents. We don't force him. We get his sister to open the first couple with him and go from there. Some of the bigger presents we often don't wrap - we give them to him. Remove the whole change and process. It makes it less of a Christmas feel maybe - but then, at the same time, means that he can see what is coming.
Not so little Miss loves the decorations up, and as we go through the Christmas period, little Mr get used to seeing them up. This could potentially cause an issue when taking them down as the norm now, is, with them up.
So, when it comes time to take them down, we do so gradually. We take it easy so that the change is not something rapid. The last thing to go down is the tree (probably the biggest thing).
We find that this works for him. No big changes that suddenly happen.
There are other little things that we do, really to try and ease him into this time. You have to remember that Christmas is full of noise, lights, changes. Something many kids enjoy BUT, can also cause sensory issues, fear of changes.
The things I have mentioned for above, work for us on these bigger changes. We still have meltdowns. We still find fear and issues. These do happen.
I hope this gives a little insight into our time over the holiday period. I hope it gives a little thought and insight into what we think and do AND I hope it inspires you with ideas if you need them.