Well, it’s now December and the Christmas songs will be playing on the music channels, the shops will be busier and there is the expectation of the “perfect” Christmas isn’t there?

Those adverts with a large family table brimming with food, the laughter as the crackers are pulled, jokes are told and the proud carving of a turkey for everyone to eat.

This is one of the ways in which we’ll differ in our household as we won’t all be having the same Christmas dinner. Due to T’s sensory issues around food and D’s anxieties if the food doesn’t look like her school Christmas dinner (I try not to get too offended at the latter) it’s likely that they’ll be having chicken nuggets and chips whilst we have a turkey dinner.

Don’t judge me, this is a compromise, a way for us all to sit together, even if the thought of juggling a full roast plus the nuggets and chips always makes me feel a bit panicked come Christmas morning!

Our day will differ to those adverts too. T doesn’t really “do” Christmas and sees it very much for what it is, one day. Whilst D gets totally into the build-up, absolutely loves seeing all the lights and decorations and gets extremely excited trying to spot where Rob The Robin is every day (our take on Elf on the Shelf).

I did try and impose a “no screens” rule for Christmas Day but, as they both rely on them for calming and self-regulation, I’ll settle for the screens (and headphones) being put down whilst presents are unwrapped!

Presents...the charity shops/school fairs have done well out of us over the years, I’d buy a toy because T or D had shown an interest, get them wrapped and then it would be looked at and discarded because “play” is something that doesn’t come easily, to either of them.  More often than not, the box (especially if big enough) and the wrapping paper would generate more interest.

Now we stick to tried and tested - annuals, books, pens, clothes, which may sound boring but at least they’ll be used.

I also make sure that T and D have the same amount of presents, differing wrapping paper and, if possible, that they’re similarly sized, it all makes for a more harmonious unwrapping! 

As much as T sees Christmas as one day, he also sees any school activities as out of routine and a hindrance to what would usually be happening, his lessons. Due to his sensory issues, Christmas jumper day is a Christmas long-sleeved t-shirt, another compromise but one that means he doesn’t stand out as he generally masks outbursts during his school day.

For Hubbie and I, is a case of “if they’re happy, then so are we”, there’s generally something worth watching Christmas evening accompanied by a snuggle on the sofa and a (rare) glass of something with a chocolate orange.

And then it’s all over for another year!  

Read more of Jeannette's Blogs at Autismmumma