What My Neurodivergent Christmas Looks Like

Christmas. That time of year when twinkling lights appear in every shop window, along with gaudy decorations. People try and out do each other with decorations outside their residences. We are told to buy bigger and better gifts than last year. Carols are blasted from every direction. Parties involve spending time with people you don’t often get time to see. Pressure is made to get everything perfect. And woe betide the person who doesn’t have a Pinterest-perfect family holiday.

But here’s the thing, many of us won’t have that picture perfect holiday. For many people Christmas is a nightmare just waiting to happen. Christmas is an assault on the senses with sights and sounds that hurt, tastes and smells that are unfamiliar, and being told we should be happy for all the chaos that goes on. People look at us in shock if we want to avoid those parties. But those of us on the autistic spectrum often want nothing more than to run and hide from it all.

This Christmas, my sister and I will put up our small white tree, cook a roast dinner and share a few small gifts. There is no huge guilt trip over what to get; we know what the other wants and we’ve agreed not to go overboard. Dinner will be cooked together. We will watch movies and spend the day in our PJs and bathrobes. There will be no unwelcome social interaction to overstimulate. It will be calm and peaceful. Actually the only thing missing is a couple of people we want to join us.

If those two people were with us, our Christmas would be perfect for us. For some, the perfect Christmas is ignoring it entirely; for others it’s extremely low key like ours, or allowing family to go and do the festive things while staying at home and enjoying the quiet. Christmas should be as unique and individual a time as we are as people. So please respect that not everyone wants to join in the more traditional celebrations, and just let us be.

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Getty image by Echo EVG. 

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