“Mum, your christmas presents belong in the trash!”

2 Dec


Days till Christmas

On Christmas morning the children wake you up at the crack of dawn, keen to get going on their marathon of gift unwrapping. Your Child squeals with delight and surprise when they discover what’s been hiding under the tree! 

 But what if they don’t? I mean, what if they say..

 “Thanks but no thanks” 

 How would that make you feel?

 As a mother of a child with Aspergers, I know all to well how that feels, except the words above are a not exactly of his choosing!

 “Yuck, that’s nasty”

 “How much was it?”

 “I don’t like these mum”

 “Have you got the receipt so we can exchange it for something way better”

 All these terms and more have been used by the Little man, you may feel his spoilt or selfish, greedy maybe!

 The reality is Little man don’t do well with surprises, the thought of someone getting him something not of use or something he doesn’t like is a total worry that could literally mess up his whole entire way of thinking. 

With this in mind, it is safe to say that,“No, my son does not believe in Santa Claus” that much is clear to see.

 His choices for gift have always been… Well, lets say a little “absurd” though I’ve noticed that since his been “allowed” to be part of a school community his slowly becoming interested in other things, things that are considered more “Socially accepted” (though I’m pretty sure that nothing will be able to replace his “special interest” in transport) you may think his a bit of an anorak? If he wasn’t my son, would I think the same? 

 Anyhow, regardless of any of that above (to be honest I don’t know why I’m even bringing that into it) because it will always be the same whether he likes buses, Lego or the latest Nerf blaster! The bottom line is, he don’t do well with surprises and unfortunately when them “Surprises” are not to his liking he doesn’t do well on subtlety either and it would seem that Little man isn’t the only one!

 Yes, I created the A boy with Asperger’s (ABWA) Facebook page around a year after this blog as kind of an extension, that I hoped would somehow do well in the world of  “Social media” and to my surprise, it went down a storm, so much so we now have eleven amins and almost 4,500 members. The page has seen myself and many others through some difficult times and for many Christmas seems to be one of those! 

 We are quite lucky in the fact that despite Little man’s present opening can be somewhat disastrous, if not thought through, and the fact he can be quite impulsive especially around lots of people, he still copes far better than some children on the spectrum during Christmas

 After engaging in a group discussion on the Facebook page this week, it came to light that the whole situation surrounding gifts and surprises, was by far one of the biggest issues for our children at Christmas. However there was a lot of discussion around the topic of Christmas dinner, social gatherings which sadly included visits from the extended family.

 I found many parents with the exception of a few, complained that their families failed to fully understand or even accept their child, which made occasions like Christmas even more difficult families.

 I mean… Our children don’t mean to be so blunt, it’s not as easy for them to smile politely and say thank you, when let’s be honest they feel the given gift is best of in the trash than actually taking up space in their bedrooms.

 I remember from such a young age, Little man would so bluntly show his utter disappointment in a gift he had received. This made me dread Christmas and birthdays, I used to try desperately hard to… “BEG” him if you like, to not say anything rude and if he didn’t like something we would sort it out when everybody had left to go home! He would just look at me before coming out with a thousand and one… “But why” questions. Once convinced he knew the drill I’d just about relax and out it would pop… “Nan… what ever made you think I wanted this” I’d go darting over from wherever I was and quite literally gag him.

 This isn’t always the case anymore and most of the family understand this is just his way! My mum learnt her lesson quite early on and began taking him shopping for his own gifts (not usually a great idea is shopping, what with the tendency to quickly convert into meltdown mode, due to the sensory overload of the busy situation) but like myself, my mother has a plan (one that doesn’t always work… it a 50/50 thing) quite periods and the mid relaxation break at a costa branch normally helps! Strange choice for an 11-year-old I know but a decaf with cream seems to somehow make a bad situation a not so bad one.

 While on my Facebook page reading some Crimbo tips from my fellow parents of children on the autism spectrum, I discovered a few I wanted to share!

 Please bear in mind some of these children find the whole occasion that is Christmas far too much to bear and cannot cope with it at all. Many really do not like the whole social situation that comes with Christmas, where little man wants to socialise, he just has difficulties doing so.

 Christmas tips for the family of a child with autism  given by parents from the ABWA facebook page.

 One of our admin on the page… My tip is, don’t do it! Jo has asked for no decorations, to know what presents are, to do very little, to spend it at home with a mince-pie or two just me & him & Dr who! I think the buffet idea is the best tip I’ve heard of, that and allowing aspies plenty of space away from it all if there is a family gathering taking place (L)

Parent from page… Jamie hates surprises and too many presents overwhelm her so Xmas starts tomorrow for us, a present a day for advent and anything she isn’t happy with I will swap for something she wants. Xmas day will be very casual with a couple of presents to open when she’s ready and no Xmas dinner, just a normal day as far as food is concerned!

 Parent from page… Eli is obsessed with his nintendo dsi and zones out when playing games so we take it with us when we go for family holidays and he has as much down time as he needs. We don’t force him to sit with us or socialise…. He seems to visit when he wants and the dsi gives us all some peace.

 Parent from page… All my family are very aware of Liams need to get away so they always tell him which room he can hide out in when he wants and we bring his ds and he is happy. No one is allowed into his chill out room, as for presents he gives me a list of what he wants including stocking fillers… I get what I can and pass the rest on to the others then we move onto a ratio, vouchers so many previous Christmas ruined because we bought what we thought he might like …..big mistake

 Parent from page… For kyles bedtime routine (kyle is just 5) we have made a picture board using photos we took of him doing various things, they look so nice and also I think it makes it more personal for his understanding when he sees himself doing it in his room etc. I am hoping to get something to attach the pictures with at the moment so its like his “diary” he has at school. I am now trying to get some of the other things we do like taking a bus trip out etc🙂 hope this helps x

 Parent on page… My 7-year-old son knows every present he’s getting! Last year he went on and on and on and on and on and on for a month before xmas, I learnt this year and he helped me choose everything so no surprises but he doesn’t care lol. x

 Parent on page… Limit the amount of time friends and family spend visiting you – everyone has this big thing about spending the whole festive period together but for my son this is like torture. So we have family over on the xmas day bit and have a limit on the amount of time they can spend with us , and this helps my son to stay focused and calm as he knows there is an end in sight and he knows when the time is coming where he can chill and just be himself. I will say that my son has a thing about being fully dressed, and eating in front of people, so for him it is good to know that he only has so long left till he can strip and stuff his face with xmas goodies!

 Parent from page… For those, like my son, who hate opening presents if they don’t know what it is, ask the giver to write the label ‘To Jake, a toy tractor with love from Auntie Julie xx’. It takes the stress out of the moment. Of course,if they don’t want the tractor that could be interesting too!!. X

 Parent on page… It doesn’t matter if you don’t open the presents all in one go, we do ours over the whole day and sometimes keep hold of some for the next day too. It seems too overwhelming for my lot and I wouldn’t say they’re spoiled either!

All the comments above have been left on the ABWA facebook page and permission has been obtained for their use within this post. Please remember these are personal comments from parents of children on the autism spectrum and the comments will be protected by the copyright that protects this blog

4 Responses to ““Mum, your christmas presents belong in the trash!””

  1. mia December 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    As a 49 yr old mother with 2 teenagers whom I am the Aspie girl Christmas for many years was very difficult. Especially as a child – none of it made sense, Santa, virgin birth, tree in the house, presents you dont want or like, gross food, smelly relatives you dont really know who talk about you. It doesn’t make sense to us the Aspie’s at all. I commend you parents for trying.

    Just be as honest with us as possible, keep your discussions without emotion ( we are not very good at social cues so we get frustrated) As an adult with social situations that are difficult I arrive late, leave early, take hiding breaks when needed all making sure I am not being rude. I dislike presents 99% of the time they are incorrect. But the 1 time I do receive that perfect gift does not make up for the others and the drama. We dont understand how we are told to be honest yet Christmas to us is one lie after another. Oh, and when you say I must pretend to like something to make Nana happy we wonder why Nana doesn’t try to make us happy. For an Aspie Christmas can be filled with nausea, and sadness. As an adult I can control my life, as a child they cannot. I am very,very social but it is always to my choosing. As an adult I have learned to enjoy being an Aspie girl. I am part of a club, a group of people whom only they fully understand.

    Good luck and merry christmas

    Also it does not always have to be about us just include us in decision making when possible. Cook your Christmas dinner just let us eat dinner our way with you. If we accept you we dont understand why you as in others accept us. In our world you all are the strange, different, funny like that people.

  2. Lou Strachan (@Bobbity666) December 3, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Good tips there and as usual people are too quick to think children are being rude when to be honest they are just speaking the thoughts in their minds (Some adults should take a note out of their books!) not everyone thinks inside the box and if they did life would be boring x

    Lou x

  3. Mum in Meltdown December 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    When a child is affected this way you have to make it easy on them no matter what. Family should hopefully understand. We are all different and have to vcope with things in our own way so if this sort of thing makes it enjoyable for your son and therefore the rest of the family, then everyone enjoys the day🙂 x

  4. Lizbeth December 2, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    Such great tips from other parents. Having come off of Thanksgiving with extended family in the house I was never so glad to see them leave. That sounds awful but my poor son was so out of sorts.

    We are having a quite Christmas with NO family and all presents will have been pre-approved. It should be quiet and uneventful. Just the way he likes it.

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