We have always tried to make the Christmas season a special one for our son, Angel. Last year, his fascination with Christmas trees and Christmas lights began. However, trees and lights are where his fascination with Christmas ends.
As a parent of an only child who is on the autism spectrum, I have conditioned myself to understand that our celebrations will be different. Christmas is no exception. It is a process.
Every year I am asked by friends and family, “What does Angel want for Christmas?” I always pause when I hear this question. I pause because Angel has never been the child to make a list of what he wants. He has also never said, “This is what I want for Christmas.” This kind of expressive communication is tough for him, even at seven-years old. So I respond after thinking of what he needs and what he has gravitated toward over the past year. Like I said, it is a process.
Honestly, I am not sure if Angel understands what Christmas means. I am referring to the Christian and commercial aspects of this holiday. Abstract concepts have always been tough for him.
So how do we celebrate Christmas? We surround ourselves with family and have a good time. Sometimes it seems like Angel could care less about opening gifts but we try our best and coax him into being a part of everything. We also eat lots of food. Maybe one year, we will brave taking him to church.
Angel has never been into Santa, but every year we drag him to a sensitive Santa event, trying to get that perfect Santa Christmas photo. We haven’t gotten one yet but he always has a great time and that is what matters.
Last year we took Angel to see the Christmas tree at Rockerfeller Center in Manhattan and he loved it. This was in spite of the crowds. We plan to take him to see it at least once before this Christmas season is over.
One thing I know in my heart is that Angel is always surrounded by people who love him unconditionally and in essence this is what Christmas is all about.
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BMWK: How do you celebrate Christmas with your autistic child?