Our previous family Christmas’s with Grace have been a little different to what it will be like this year.
The first couple of Christmas’s were typical festive days – opening presents, listening to music and enjoying each other’s company. Grace LOVED Christmas music and the lights on the tree.
On Grace’s first Christmas, she was only 4 months old, so it was easy to keep her busy on such an exciting day – she had new toys, lots of people wanting to see how she’d spent her day and her family around her giving her lots of love. We even took her to see Santa as Westfield London, we were so amazed by it that we decided to make it a tradition and do it every year.
Grace’s second Christmas was more of the same – she actually enjoyed the wrapping paper more than the presents, but most kids do! This year was an exciting one though, as she could have her first Christmas dinner! She was so good with food at this age, and absolutely demolished it, veggies and all! This year, we went along to see Santa at the Grotto again, only this time was not so successful and Grace was not happy to see Santa and his big beard!
By Grace’s 3rd Christmas (last year) a lot had gone on, we’d had lockdown. We suspected Grace was a little different, but due to Covid, hadn’t seen a Health Visitor or GP. As a huge Christmas lover, I just wanted to have the perfect day, but as many parents of children with SEN, it definitely does not always go to plan. Grace did not want to open any presents, nor did she want any Christmas dinner, looking back, she was definitely overwhelmed – I know it sounds terrible, but when you want one day to be perfect and to not have ASD in your life, it can be a little disheartening. We decided not to see Santa this year, the crowds, people in costume and whole excitement of it all may have been too much for Grace to tolerate. Quite honestly, we were still quite early into Grace’s diagnosis and we were still hiding away to avoid looks and judgement from other families (more my decision than Nick’s as I found it really difficult).
Grace’s 4th Christmas was so much different. We had Grace’s ASD diagnosis and knew it would be a little different. We put no pressure on eating certain foods, having a structured day or opening presents, we just let Grace be. We also went to a family gathering that year – I was a nervous wreck! I was really trying to not let it show, but I was terrified it would be too overwhelming for Grace and that she would have a complete meltdown. I think I underestimated her – at first, she was not impressed, she had her tablet & my phone and kept going to an upstairs bedroom just to chill. But after a while she was happily walking around without me and even danced with her little cousin! My family were amazing and really understood that she needed her space.
I vowed this year that this year will be devoted to Grace and her needs, as we’d got to know her triggers a lot better and can sense a meltdown a mile off now. We’ve spent the last year really understanding Autism and what it means in our family. Grace hates fuss, she loves her own space and really has to be in the mood to try new things, which is
This year, things will be slightly different than a typical Christmas, but it will be a day Grace will enjoy and that’s the most important thing.