Sunday, 15 December 2013

"Hiding" the Presents

I was rather intrigued by the Blogging Challenge which appeared in today's Twitter Feed.
"Where do you hide your Christmas Presents?" 
Indeed. But what if the key word in that sentence were "Hide" rather than "Where" ? I could answer the "Where" part pretty succinctly. In the loft, now that I have one! I wrote recently about the ridiculous level of excitement I felt at FINALLY having some storage space, and now there is a "place for everything and everything in its place" so to speak, there is ample hiding room.

But what if the hiding was the main issue? 

I have a son with Autism who feels pretty out of control at Christmas. Christmas presents huge challenges for anyone with an Autistic Spectrum Condition. That horrible, churned up, out-of-control feeling is usually pretty common around this time of year - and I'm not talking about the stressed parents trying to juggle family, extended family, work and Christmas!

For someone who dislikes excitement, change and overwhelming complexity, the unpredictable lurching from day to day in the run up to Christmas can be just too much to cope with.

We've learned the hard way over the years and even his younger siblings prefer a degree of certainty whilst waiting for Christmas. Eradicating some of the unknowns and reducing the anticipation is essential in this house, and a little less secrecy the only way to survive. I do hide a few presents, but he knows what almost all of them are.

We write a list together in November time (and sometimes much earlier!) and plan which items he could have for Christmas and which might wait until his birthday a month later. This way he feels in control of the whole process and we are less likely to see angry outbursts and meltdowns. (Key word there being LESS likely" ... it's an exercise in damage limitation!) And as the photos  show, you can still have a great time opening your gifts that you have waited for so impatiently!!

What I DO take great pains to hide though is the gifts his siblings are getting. Luckily H may know what he is getting but usually isn't remotely concerned what anyone else has asked for. And if he was, I wouldn't tell him - as like most people on the spectrum he can't keep secrets.

We've adopted this approach to a lesser extent with the other children and it has definitely brought more calm to the Thompson household at Christmas. Clearly surprises are not our cup of tea!

In addition to a surprise free Christmas we have the complication of strict exclusion diets.... so Christmas also needs to be Diary, Soya, Wheat and Gluten free too. This is getting increasingly easy to achieve though if I'm honest, and last year the twins were Genius "Christmas Stars" winning a whole hamper of Free From goodies which saw us well into the New Year!

So for us Christmas is to be navigated through as simply and calmly as possible. You make it work for you and your family and this is far more important than conforming to anyone else's idea of how things should be. I'm not a Christmas fan to be honest, it's an absolute minefield to tiptoe carefully through and emerge as unscathed as possible. But keeping things simple definitely helps and any other coping measures should be embraced wholeheartedly!!


“This post is an entry into the Hudl Christmas cheer competition”


  1. Thank you for linking to the Britmums special needs roundup, I'm so pleased to have found your blog. this post just goes to show that with a little extra (well, OK a lot of extra) planning, stresses at busy family times can be alleviated. Hayley


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