Saturday, 24 December 2011
Festive Challenges and Autism Tips
Chrissy aged 9 with her sister, Alex, years before she was diagnosed with autism
Last Christmas was very difficult for Chrissy. The self-injurious outbursts kicked off on Christmas Eve then reached a peak during Christmas Day. She had 8 major outburts in 24 hours - including a hair-raisingly violent one during our 2-hour drive to her aunt's. (Her sister and I arrived in tears). Chrissy fluctuated between full-on screaming, rolling around on the floor and self-injuring, and being out of it. It was, as you can imagine, very disruptive & distressing for Chrissy herself & the 13 other family members around her. Because she was stripping off, we had to keep her hidden from her younger cousins' view - an almost impossible task.
Previous Christmases have been more Jeckyll & Hyde than last year's - outbursts interspersed with lovely times rather than lethargy. The picture above shows Chrissy enjoying herself but on & off throughout that day she had been clawing at her face & around her eyes. At one point, Ian had taken her outside in the cold & sat quietly with her for a while to calm her down & give everyone respite. Not all Christmases have been so difficult. Chrissy's autism fluctuates unpredictably like her moods, and appears to have got more severe with age.
We're hosting Christmas this year, which will make it easier to minimise triggers & manage outbursts. We'll celebrate Christmas around Chrissy & she can choose which parts to join in with. I won't involve her in the present-opening scrum, nor will I invite her to join us for Christmas dinner. Chrissy time is slower than our time. Once she's figured out that there's a feast at her disposal, she'll wolf down her meal in peace long after we've cleared the table. We'll also try some National Autistic Society tips to support The Diva through her festive challenges. Wish us luck! http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/at-home/coping-with-christmas/ten-ideas-for-a-happy-christmas.aspx
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