Advent, Autism and a grey hair

It seems that once Halloween and Bonfire night are finished that Christmas starts. When I was little it started at advent, not the first week in November. School routine changed, carols were being practiced, decorations up in the shops along with the Christmas music that I’m now fed up of listening too. Oliver did not cope well. He’s excited but doesn’t know how to channel it so we’ve had some regression and some behaviour issues. Hitting out at me and his TA and even the teacher when he tried to get involved without using the strategies. Sleep disappeared pretty much altogether, no concentration and needing lots of rough and tumble play.

Of course all children get excited around Christmas, Popples behaviour has changed and she’s got very loud. We can mainly channel her or get her to talk but Oliver threw his emotion cards at me and burst into tears. So we’ve been very calm, cut right back on learning and therapy so there’s no pressure on him. He’s used the nurture room and library at school to have some Christmas free space. We put the tree up on the first and he seemed to settle a bit having a focal point. No flashing lights, no tinsel (it itches). He tried to open all his windows in his calendar (no chance, sunshine) we know he knows how it works. He did at one point open my number 24 then pointed to his and said “24. Open. Yes” showing me that as mine was opened it was only fair his was opened too. I shouldn’t have got playmobil calendars.

He’s collected all the interesting tags off presents from under the tree so I suspect that may cause some chaos on Christmas morning. He’s done his list “owlette teddy yes please” which he’s been asking for since mid November. Santa came to school with a reindeer and the little ones went to see him together and had a cute photo done. My boys have never been scared of Santa. Max used to laugh and stroke his beard. Oliver goes straight to his knee and gazes like he’s his hero. Popples has never been keen. Last year she said “I don’t want him in my house. Ask him to knock on the door and give presents to daddy”. Really freaked out at the thought of him coming in. We watched a programme today where someone left Santa some milk. Her comment was “milk! He’s not a baby. Where’s the sherry?” We are not alcoholics, by the way, but we always left sherry for Santa.

Over this advent we’ve had to take turns going to church as Olly just can’t handle it. It’s a shame because it’s always nice in church at advent. I did Christingle service with Popples. Olly has broken things, decorated to ceiling a bit more with various food items, scissors are now hidden, emptied toy boxes, ripped up papers and we lost two baubles. He also found the eggs. We’ve tried hiding them because we know he’s a cracker, but he always seems to find them. Hubby walked into the kitchen and “can you clean the floor whilst I do the wall and door?” He’d done it again. Only 2 this time and helpfully put the shells in the bin. I was kneeling on the floor scooping up egg when I felt a drop on my head. Yep. Egg. He’d thrown it at the ceiling and I should have looked up first. I know better than to go to the floor without checking above! I’m not a rookie. I blame tiredness. So egg mopped up and went to sponge the egg out of my hair until I got five mins to wash it. And I found my first grey hair. I’ve been going redder as I age which happened to my dad too, so thought I’d get away for another few years before the grey. Sadly not. Oliver has succeeded in ageing me. Well played, Olly, well played.

At least with a family like ours there’s no pressure to have a perfect Hollywood Christmas. We’ve tidied, bought the boys favourite foods and made their rooms suitable for quiet times complete with sequin swipe cushions that they love using and actually seem to calm them. Oliver is having Bolognese for his Christmas lunch, Max may have fish and waffles if he doesn’t want chicken, Oliver took 3 days to open gifts last year, Popples will be up and down all night Christmas Eve and me and their dad will smile through it all, play the games, and hopefully watch three children celebrate Christmas their way and be happy. It may not be Hollywood perfect but you know what? We think it’s perfect. It’s a hard time of year and very testing but dad is trying so hard. He’s stayed calm. There’s been no shouting. There’s been lots of guidance given and accepted. Oliver doesn’t automatically turn to me for help or comfort now. He will go to dad. Small steps but they give me hope.

Anyway however you all do Christmas I hope it’s as perfect as ours will be. Have a very blessed Christmas.

Xx

The Nativity Play

Our school still do a nativity in the EYFS. It’s not the traditional story as such, last year it was a wiggly nativity, this year it was about how they got the swaddling for Baby Jesus. All the traditional elements are there, though, and I really look forward to it. Oliver was lead donkey when he was there, Popples was an angel last year and this year she got chosen to be a narrator. My really shy daughter would have to speak in front of all these parents. I was a tad concerned.

We practiced her lines and she picked them up well. We explained how she would have to say them in front of lots of people but that her teachers would be there to help. I thought she’d bottle it, she doesn’t like people looking at her, so how would she cope with 100 people looking at her?

She was amazing. She didn’t need prompting. She was loud and clear and not an ounce of shyness. Have to admit I got a lump in my throat. So proud of her.

The star that was supposed to show the wise men where to go refused to go on stage. One of the lambs couldn’t see his mummy so leapt into the arms of a staff member crying. A soldier got on stage saw his mummy and changed his line to “I want to go home now”. 2 angels were swapping headbands (halo’s) throughout. It was brilliant! These kids are 3-5 so for them to do as well as they do, remembering lines and all the songs is astounding!

The rest of the school do a carol concert/Christmas story at church which we missed due to a SLT appointment ☹️ but we got the nativity which made it feel like Christmas. And I won the raffle!!

Xx

Christmas fair

So Oliver has not been coping very well with the changes and excitement of the festive period. He knows that it’s nearly present time and after doing his list, well one item, he had a wobbler because as far as he was concerned he’d asked and waiting was not part of his deal. He knows the advent calendar counts down and then he gets a present so was just trying it on. Popples isn’t sleeping as there’s a million questions to be answered about Jesus, Father Christmas, angels, Mary/Gabriel/Joseph triangle, playmobil, puppies and star versus fairy for the tree top, to name a few topics we’ve been dealing with.

The last few weeks we’ve had to take bits in for the Christmas fair. We never actually go to it. It’s so busy and loud that Olly just can’t deal with it. This year as Emily is on maternity I asked if she’d come collect him while I took Popples to the fair. I went to inform the office staff but then the conversation took an unexpected turn. One of the teachers had heard and said “why not come earlier? Before school finishes so you can at least do some stalls”. Then the Senco popped into the office and they decided that they would offer kids like mine the chance to be collected 15 minutes earlier so they didn’t have to deal with the crowds and could take part.

I went early to pick them up and they met me in the hall. They’d seen it all being set up all day. Popples was a bit reserved as it was something totally new to her but Olly came in with a massive smile and bouncing with excitement. They adopted a teddy each, paying the money over and choosing their new soft toy with no pressure, no crowds, no loud noises. He signed thank you. They went on the chocolate tombola where Popples won a tub of Quality Street, the rainbow draw, find Rudolph and then they perused the cake stall. He had the opportunity to choose, pay and use his manners. Everyone was so patient and kind. It was lovely to do something with both my kids that everyone else gets to do. They were absolutely made up. She told her dad all about it, and Olly showed him his adopted Ubercorn.

I have to admit I felt a bit cheeky being allowed in without having to queue and hustle, but school said “don’t be daft”. They felt bad for not thinking of it before. Our kids don’t go to the discos (too loud), after school clubs (change of routine) and don’t get invited to many parties (still a mystery as to why) so at least they could help us to experience this. Six families got the chance to enjoy the Christmas fair this year who usually wouldn’t. We loved it. We felt part of a school event. We got to do it together. Popples and Oliver got to be like other kids for half an hour, choosing, playing games and paying their money. It doesn’t sound like much but to me it was a really big deal. I don’t think anyone realises how little tweaks can make such a difference and bring so much happiness to families like mine. Popples misses out on some things but when everyone talked about the fair, THIS year she got to join in!

Xx