Special Needs

Advice on coping with Christmas

We cannot have much decoration and the tree has to be set out a certain way

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has produced a film featuring families with children and young people affected by autism offering advice on dealing with the Christmas period.

Most children and young people in the UK look forward to the festive season, the family get-togethers, decorations, presents, Christmas dinner and getting away from school, but all of these can cause huge anxiety to people with autism. Changes to routine can be very traumatic and lights and noise can cause sensory overload that can be unbearable. Many have dietary issues that are magnified during this period. The shops are crammed with people, adding to their anxiety and visits from extended family can cause added social pressures.

Accept difference. Not indifference.

So how do parents and carers cope and manage to have a trauma-free Christmas that can be enjoyed by the whole family?

One mother explains: ‘ Decorations can be upsetting for my son. We cannot have much decoration and the tree has to be set out a certain way. He does not like balloons because he knows they pop and he cannot handle the noise. It can be upsetting for other members of the family who would like more decorations but we cannot risk it for the anxiety it might cause’

Christmas is a time of celebration and there is no reason why children and young people with autism should not enjoy the festive season in the same way as other people.

Watch this film to see how others are coping with some of the difficult issues facing parents with Autistic children.

Go to www.autism.org.ukto find out more or to share in the experiences and discussions of some other parents.

Have a safe and happy Christmas.

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