Christmas is such fun! Navigating Christmas with sensory processing disorder.
There is a huge run up and media hype for Christmas each year. Lets face it, shops put their decorations up in September now, and I’m pretty sure last week I saw Easter eggs in the supermarket!
School starts to build the excitement when they begin learning songs for the nativity/carol services and rehearsing their plays.
But when you are trying to navigate everyday life with difficulty how do you cope with so much going on?
In our household Christmas is NUTS!
There is a tree and lights in the living room, a reef on the door and usually some sort of lights outside. (I say usually as I haven’t done it this year due to illness).
That means the kids toys being moved out from the family room. Most distributed back into their bedroom (some recycled). Furniture gets moved, the “nice table cloth” goes on the table and the house is filled with cardboard and paper! For Finn and his sensory processing disorder it means that everything is an overload. Its too cold, its too hot, its too bright or too dark. Things have moved which is not good for his autistic self either! Christmas for my boys is a nightmare!
I love watching the kids open their presents, I really do. I don’t, however, like to watch them struggle. We realised that last year Finn really struggled with present opening. He was overwhelmed. He sat on the living room floor, amongst reams of discarded paper and just let out a huge sigh! Then he zoned out and spent the next hour staring into oblivion.
Visits to see Santa are also very “fun” for us.
The hours spent standing around I would say the worst part. He becomes increasingly over stimulated by the lights and the noise, sometimes just by the colours on the walls or the floors. The numbers of people also affect him. He bounces off the walls and looks like we haven’t ever parented him! Don’t get me wrong, I know that sometimes my kids can be arseholes! That’s how they are, all kids are really!
Our Christmas usually looks like this:
1am Christmas morning we are still wrapping presents, by now I’ve finished santa’s cider and my own ….. Also by wrapping I mean watching the wife wrap while I interject about how tired I am and urge her to hurry up.
When she’s finished we get the kids stockings from the fire place (now about 3 am) and fill them and hang them, then I try not to fall down the stairs with the presents which are stuffed in bags for life and hidden in our room. (By the way, you have to walk past EVERY childs bedroom before you get to ours so its really hard not to die getting these things out!)
Then when I make it down the stairs we realise that a number of the presents aren’t labelled. Usually that’s fine because the wife paper codes the presents. For example Finn has Baymax on his paper, or Dylan has Cinderella etc.
3.30/4am ish we go to bed. Finally!
5AM the kids are up and jumping on my to get up because “He’s been”.
Then for the next 2 hours we sit in a zombie state as the kids unwrap their presents and hand them to us like some sort of backwards production line.
We spend the morning picking up small bits of torn off paper. Also bring to keep the sets together so not to lose a piece.
We head over to my parents, the earlier the better, usually around 1pm.
Trish helps mum with the dinner. I get stuck with the men, Usually that’s my dad, his twin brother Paul and whatever old lonely male relative decided he’s inviting himself to stay with my parents.
We then head to my aunts after dinner to see the rest of the family. If for any reason we don’t make it Christmas day, we usually get over there on boxing day.
What does your Christmas look like?