We had our very last NAS branch meeting this week in Derby. A change of venue which turned out ok as we were lucky to have the use of a community room at the local fire station. I kind of expected more people really, only because when we mentioned where our next meeting was there were a few raised eyebrows from some of our female members, I think at the prospect of seeing a man in uniform. Me? I just felt safe.
I hear enough from Fireman Sam every day so the prospect of being at a fire station only makes me think I cannot tell my son otherwise he would have had to tag along, not a bad thing as I think he could tell the firemen more fire tips then they know already. It seemed quiet with the watch on this night and we managed to chat over mince pies and a brew without adding any fire hazards to their shift.
We did discuss some very interesting topics with regard to Autism and Christmas. Our main discussion was about presents and what to buy. I know with our past experience we tended to feel the need to buy a lot of unnecessary things that our son didn't feel the need to have. He was only interested in about half a dozen items and that was it. I felt guilty because there is almost this weird thing with Christmas that we have to have a stack load of presents to open. Its nice of course but what I found with my son and Autism was that he felt overloaded with too many presents and some things would never get used.
So now we encourage him to make a list and then we stick to it, we don't add any stocking fillers on or if we do want to add something on we do it in voucher form then he can save the voucher for when there is something else he needs. This makes complete sense to me because why would you want extra things that you haven't asked for? Yes socks and smelly soapy stuff is useful but how many of us get the odd item that we pass on or donate to a raffle. No of course that would be naughty wouldn't it? Bet you have though.
I think as far as pressies go just go with what the kids like at the moment, stick to special interests if they are apparent and don't overwhelm them with stuff they just don't want or need, after all you save a small fortune too. My son is seventeen now but will always request at least one Thomas and Friends engine, and a train set to go with it, he has some dvd's which includes a box set of Spongebob, a couple of activity books (Thomas again) and a couple more lightsabers for when we go out walk I imagine. He'll be happy and for some of the time he doesn't quite understand the fuss now. He likes an advent calendar and still insists on putting something out for Santa and the reindeer on Christmas Eve because they are the routines we have always had but I think he just loves a break from early mornings at college.
It is a funny time of the year as there is a different atmosphere and a change of routines, some cope better than others. The TV guide becomes a little more exciting in our house, my son will have now memorised all the Disney films on over the festive period with just one look at the Christmas Special 'What's on TV'. He absorbs it at a similar rate to the way I am absorbing all the chocolates in the Celebrations box. he could also tell you when the last time the film was shown, as long as it's a Disney one.
We will all get together again in the new year as a branch of the National Autistic Society to talk about the ups and downs of this holiday, what worked, what didn't. I would like to thank everyone for their support and wish you all a very Merry Christmas. If you have any top tips of how to survive over Christmas and want to share your experiences then feel free to leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading today, please pass by again tomorrow for Pass the Remote Sunday but for now......
Every Saturday I will be talking about Autism and will review any useful information which may have been highlighted at any support groups in the week.