Wow is it really almost Christmas again!
I've always loved Christmas. It feels and smells like magic. And having children has given me the excuse to really let my inner child run wild.
Building our traditions, watching the excitement grow.

Having a disabled son means our Christmas is a little different to other families. Over the year's we've adapted it, pruning it here, tweaking it there, letting that bit go and if I'm honest the odd bit of sadness on having to miss certain traditions as they didn't work for us.

We tried for many years to visit friends or family on Christmas day, but each time we fought to hide our stresses away so as not to ruin other people's day.
My son's severe autism doesn't just stop and give him a day off because it's Christmas!  In fact it seems to quite like working overtime on the festive period.

You see where children's excitement builds up on the Christmas countdown, my non-verbal son flutters between excitement for something he doesn't really understand (but it must be big because his brothers can hardly contain themselves) to complete sensory overload and change of routine frenzy.
By the time his eyes open Christmas morning he's balancing on the edge of a very high cliff and the slightest thing could push him off.

Then there's presents everywhere, wrapping paper, boxes, ripping noises, squeals of delight, the phone ringing,  a strong smell of Turkey, half eaten carrots and mince pies and a Christmas movie on the TV.

Then of course its dinner time and it’s all too much by then.
My husband or I would be following him around, our dinners getting cold and feelings of guilt towards everyone around the table.
My son's stimming would hit peak. He would be opening and closing doors getting rhythm from the bang , stomping, screeching, unable to even consider sitting down to eat a meal.
Then let's throw in party poppers and crackers.
The pressure of trying to fit into the traditions of others was taking away our Christmas pleasure.
It had to change.

Now Christmas day is our day, our way.
We stay home just us five, letting our son have a Christmas that's right for him.
We still have traditions, our traditions.
I still lay the table with turkey, roast potatoes, stuffing, pig's in blankets and not forgetting the sprouts.
But now if our beautiful lad needs the time to pace or spin, if he shouts loudly while clapping his hands, if he has the same two minutes of Mr Tumble playing on his iPad then that's OK with us. After all it’s his Christmas too.
He now even joins us at the table sometimes and wants to pull a cracker or even five like last year and that's fine with us too.

Christmas isn't just one size.
No rules are written on how it should be.

We are not characters from a Christmas movie sitting round a table, chinking glasses of sherry while the children sing ‘Silent Night’.

We are a different family. A real family having a traditional Christmas dinner our way, with autism joining in the party.

 Read more about Nichola and her son in her blog, Autsim and Duanes Syndrome Awareness