For a lot of youngsters Christmas is probably the most thrilling time of the yr, however for these with autism – and for the households who take care of them – it may be an awfully difficult interval.
A few of the easiest joys related to Christmas, akin to opening presents or consuming turkey, can develop into potential flashpoints as youngsters who place large significance on their routines discover it onerous to deal with the change to their atmosphere.
So how do households with autistic youngsters make it by the festive season with happiness and concord?
For Kevin Harrison, it’s a time of yr to be dealt with cautiously as his 11-year-old son Daniel struggles with the challenges of Christmas.
“Folks begin visiting, there’s promoting in every single place and he cannot actually perceive or make a variety of sense of it,” Mr Harrison says.
“The lounge appears totally different, the kitchen appears totally different, there are playing cards in every single place, and he undoubtedly begins to behave otherwise character-wise. He likes to lock himself in his room and he does that extra at Christmas. His room is his sanctuary.”
The daddy of two, from Arnold in Nottinghamshire, stated he realized fairly rapidly to not overwhelm Daniel with presents on Christmas Day.
“As his mother and father we wish to give him a variety of presents, plus a lot of folks give him presents as they’ve followed his story.
“We have tried it on Christmas Day – we tried to get him to sit down down and open every little thing and he had a meltdown. He was actually upset. It could possibly take every week to open all of his presents.”
Mr Harrison, who says Daniel finds Santa Claus scary, is not positive if his son comprehends the that means of Christmas.
“He goes to Catholic faculty, the place they educate [about Christmas], however we have got no thought if he understands the thought of Jesus… all we all know is Dan thinks it is [about] presents.”
He says it’s also tough for his son to clarify what he desires for Christmas, which makes them really feel responsible as mother and father as a result of Daniel’s teenage sister Hannah will get what she asks for.
Christmas Dinner is a problem for Daniel too. He has a concern of consuming meals after struggling acid reflux disease as a child and has by no means eaten a Christmas meal.
“This yr he would possibly be capable of have one thing pureed down or chopped down very wonderful… he is by no means eaten something on the Christmas desk,” Mr Harrison says.
“For years he would not even sit close to meals. In order that feels horrible. We’re sat across the desk and our son is upstairs.
“We have form of come to phrases with that now, however hopefully this yr one thing would possibly change a bit bit and he can have a chunk of turkey. But it surely takes him a very long time to eat and he must be supervised or he might choke.
“He is solely been invited to a few events – are you able to think about how that feels to us? I do not assume Daniel’s bothered, however for us it is fairly tough. However the children [in his class] do love him, they give the impression of being after him.”
For Simona Zetu, a Romanian interpreter from Nice Barr in Birmingham, the problem is twofold as each her four-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter have autism.
She says probably the most difficult factor for her son Patrick is meals. He stopped consuming 4 months in the past and can now solely have milk.
He is not going to be sitting with the household to eat Christmas dinner and might be enjoying in one other room.
“We will not power him to eat as a result of he gags,” Ms Zetu says. “It’s in regards to the texture and color of the meals.”
Her daughter Crina used to have an analogous drawback. For 4 years she would solely eat chips and tomato sauce and wouldn’t sit with the household at mealtimes till she was about 10.
Now she is older she is fascinated with meals – Japanese delicacies is her favorite in the mean time – and can sit with the remainder of the household on Christmas Day.
“They each ate usually till they had been 18 months previous. Then they stopped – it occurred in in the future,” Ms Zetu says.
“It seems like I’m citing the identical little one once more.”
She says that though Patrick is joyful to open items on 25 December, he doesn’t perceive Christmas.
“He does not appear to know what’s going on,” she says.
Ms Zetu, who moved to the UK from Romania along with her household three years in the past, says Crina was the identical.
“She didn’t appear to be conscious that Santa was coming. She was in her personal world. After the age of six she began to be extra current and began to acknowledge the that means of issues and would get overexcited.”
Ms Zetu provides that Christmas procuring, with all of the lights and noise, will also be tough.
“With Patrick it’s difficult. After about half an hour he sits down and we can’t be capable of transfer him. I’ve to select him up and depart.”
He doesn’t shout or scream, simply sits.
“With my daughter, it’s simply grabbing every little thing you want in a single or two hours. She likes to spend most of her time in a bookshop.”
Visiting folks and having them over at Christmas time is one thing Ms Zetu avoids the place doable.
“If I’ve visitors, I all the time be sure they [the children] have their room prepared. After 15 minutes, Crina would wish to depart.”
Crina doesn’t get pleasure from informal dialog as, for her, it doesn’t have a objective. She prefers to go to her room to attract, paint or learn.
“I might not change them for the world,” Ms Zetu says. “I’m fortunate to have such beautiful youngsters. They’re very loving. They love hugs and kisses. They’re wonderful.
“It’s heartbreaking for me once I say my youngsters are autistic and other people say ‘I am sorry’. Do not be sorry – they simply assume otherwise. They’ve a cheerful life.”
“Once you see issues about autism, you often see the ugly half. General, we’ve got a pleasant household life. Autism will not be about having tantrums.”