Christmas with a Special Needs Child…

Christmas is fast approaching and I’m excited. And nervous. I live with four brilliant children, three of whom are looking forward to Christmas in the usual ways, but I have one who is a little unsure..


Christmas is a difficult concept to get your head around really if you give it some thought. A stranger, creeping in at night whilst you sleep to leave you gifts. We don’t talk to strangers. We certainly don’t accept gifts from people we’ve never met and do not know. The linear thinking of my boy.

Christmas comes with a whole load of other problems too.

Relatives arriving, wanting a hug or at the very least a ‘hello’. You won’t get that in this house. He’ll run away from you and come back to you on his terms. When he’s ready.

He will be reluctant to open his gifts in front of you. If he doesn’t like it or doesn’t want it, he can’t hide his emotions and be polite. He will crumble and shout and cry. Even though he knows it’s not the way to do things, he can’t help it. And he knows that it will make you feel bad. So he would rather open his gifts in private.

He will certainly be eating a big bowl of noodles for his Christmas lunch (although he will still have a plate of Christmas dinner). Don’t say anything, just leave him to it. It’s safe and comforting for him on a day that is so weird.

Don’t try and sing carols with him, although he will sing and dance to the Christmas songs on the radio in the kitchen with Mummy. He’ll probably want the door shut though. You see, if you don’t completely immerse yourself in his world, he can’t be free with you.

He may not want to stay in the same room as you for very long. And that’s ok. It’s nothing personal. He needs his space, some quiet time away from the madness that is Christmas Day. He needs to process his thoughts and the demands of the day. Figure out how much and what he can cope with.  Think about how you feel with the heating on, the TV on, children over excited, the different smells, the noise, the commotion and times it by a million. That’s kind of how it feels for him. Leave him to it and he will return once he’s centred himself again.

Jack may not say ‘thank you’ for his gifts. Thank you is a display of emotion, you are thankful, grateful, pleased. Displaying emotion is a big thing and it’s really scary. So know that even if he doesn’t say thank  you, he is thank full. He will show it to you in a different way at some point when it’s safe for him to do so.

He may want to take his clothes off and hang out with you in just a nappy. It’s not weird or odd or bizarre. It’s fine and if you’re lucky enough to have him come and sit with you, try and get a touch of that baby soft skin!


Christmas is a tricky time for the most capable of us. Please remember that when you come to visit him.

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