Christmas with a special needs child Christmas can be a particularly tough time of the year for many families, with stress levels reaching an all time high. Worrying about money, because Christmas can be very expensive. Worrying about time, sometimes it feels as if there aren't enough hours in the day! Worrying about the organisation, decorating, cooking, wrapping presents, and so on... Add a child with special needs into the mix and it all becomes a LOT harder, more stressful and pretty physically and mentally draining to say the very least. Taking my son shopping has always been a bit of a struggle. Juggling him, his wheelchair, iPad, usual nappy bag things, and medications and feeding pump, I don't have any spare hands or energy to even contemplate a lone shopping trip, so a basic rule is to always have a spare pair of hands. Shopping around Christmas time is a whole different ball game. The crowds get bigger, this makes it harder to navigate his wheelchair through shops without running over people's toes (oops!). With bigger crowds comes more noise - something my son hates. This will undoubtedly trigger a meltdown, making it impossible to even stay inside the shop. Meltdowns attract stares, stares make you feel uncomfortable, stressed, overwhelmed. And so on, and so on... Is it even worth it? Is it worth the stress and strain of even trying to leave the house sometimes?! I've definitely come to the conclusion that Christmas shopping is much better done online! Buying presents for a child with additional needs can also be tricky. What do you buy a child who has no real interest in traditional, regular mainstream toys? The only real answer is 'sensory' toys, lights, and special needs equipment to help with Physio etc. But as soon as you find the perfect present, the light you know he'll love, or the walker or chair you know would help him progress so much. You see the price, and you'll soon realise, no matter where you look, that every single piece of equipment or specialist toys that are labelled 'sensory' or 'special needs' seem to automatically triple in price. Then all those happy thoughts and dreams stay exactly that. A thought that will niggle at you until you've managed to save up just enough to buy it. Shopping aside - now how do you go about decorating the house? Changing the whole look of the inside of your home can be pretty hard hitting to a child who doesn't like change. In our house, decorations are put up slowly, piece by piece, hoping he doesn't get upset. You want so much for him to enjoy Christmas like a 'regular' child, you spend your nights wishing he'd get excited for Santa to come, or even understand that Christmas Day was any different to any other. And then you start to wonder, are we doing enough? Could I be doing more to stimulate him? Could I do anything else or try any harder to save for specialist toys? Am I doing enough to make sure this year special? Last month my son had a huge seizure that very, very nearly took him away from us. Since then, I've learnt I need to make every single day count, don't get me wrong. I've always tried to make everyday fun, taking pictures and making memories etc. But that was just a cruel reminder of how precious life is, and how quickly things can change. Is it going to be special enough? Seriously, what do I need to do to help him enjoy Christmas? I'm planning lots of sensory play, with tinsel and lights and we've booked a trip to LaplandUK (but shh, he doesn't know yet ;)). We've booked one of their 'superstar' days, which are exclusive to families with a special needs child. I'm so excited but a little nervous to see how he reacts whilst we're there, I'm hoping so much that he'll love it, the snow, the huskies, the elves and Santa. But at the same time I'm worried it'll be a complete flop and he'll be so overwhelmed and hate it. But as I always say, you've just got to roll with it and take one day at a time. Despite the extra stress and worries around Christmas with a special needs child, I'm excited and strangely I'm looking forward to juggling making dinner around Meds and pump feeds in our crazy household. Because although I feel guilty for saying/thinking it, it'll all soon be over and we'll soon be taking down the decorations and getting back into our regular routine. I hope everyone, whether you’re going 'all out' decorating your homes and are planning on visiting Santa or whether your having to 'tone it down' and have a more relaxed day for the sake of your special needs child (and maybe your sanity!) has an enjoyable day. My only advice is to only do what you feel you can. Don't feel pressured into making Christmas a big thing. Do what works for your family to ensure a stress free (I know, I know, I can wish right?!) day! And don't forget, take lots of pictures and make plenty of lovely memories that can be treasured forever. Emmy blogs for Firefly Garden, where you can read more about her adventures with AJ.