Christmas in an SN (Special Needs) household is often very similar to any other, although there are a few differences inevitably. What did I wish people knew about surviving Christmas as an SN family? Well…
1. Don’t assume that disabled means that they DON’T understand Christmas – Sam can quickly become overwhelmed, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love seeing all the decorations in the shops or the lights in the town centre… It just means we have to pick our times to visit. Carefully.
2. The grief that life isn’t as we’d expected can be overwhelming. It takes an enormous amount of effort and planning to make Christmas work as an SN family, and sometimes the sadness and loss at what ‘might have been’ takes its toll.
4. Christmas can be incredibly lonely. This isn’t something specific to families like ours, but it is something that certainly hits hard especially when friends children are able to enjoy Christmas parties and games, while my wonderful, brave little boy may not be able to join in so easily. Or at all.
5. We don’t know what to get our kids either – believe me on this one; for parents of children with delays, buying toys that are aimed at children many years younger than our kids year after year can be soul-destroying. But does it really matter if the child or young person in question is happy?! Nope. But we have the same issues as any parents; only the toys and items our kids actually NEED are usually so out of our price range as to be impossible to even contemplate.
Our kids don’t necessarily love this time of year – it is often too loud, too busy, too bright. Sensory overload can turn a usually happy child into a screaming force of nature. Equally, many disabled children are just as capable of loving the festive season like any other, and are equally likely to be excitable, loud and exhausting! More than ever, be kind.
I hope everyone had a very happy Christmas!