Christmas is such an exciting time for many people. Filled with food and celebrations, joy and laughter, love and giving. It’s that time of year for family and friends. The season of goodwill. As much as we want to replicate what we see in films this really isn’t always the case. For those of us who are autistic and have sensory processing difficulties, Christmas can be a tough time. At Christmas, everything changes and that can be difficult for us to navigate. Here is a guide for Christmas shopping for people on the spectrum.
So How Can You Help?
One way to help is to be mindful of presents. My eldest child was diagnosed autistic aged 7 and those earlier years were hard work when it came to Christmas. It’s Christmas Tradition to write a list to Santa of all of the things you want. Now that doesn’t mean you’ll get everything on the list … but thinking from a literal point of view why would you get something that isn’t on the list? It doesn’t make sense. This was an issue in our family for many of those early years. Jamie just couldn’t understand why Santa would bring something that wasn’t on the list!
Too many presents can also be very overwhelming. Set aside the changes that happen over the Christmas period and the masking we have to do, we are often very intricate people. We can become easily obsessed with something we want and therefore anything else is too much.
Following on from this, many of us don’t like surprises or if we do they need to be something that we would want (but may not know we want). This means that wrapping paper can cause anxiety. Just because everyone wraps their gifts doesn’t mean you have to. You can just use gift bags, cellophane wrapping or leave them unwrapped completely!
Now let’s talk wrapping paper! This can cause a variety of issues. The sound of it being ripped open can be difficult for some people with sensory processing difficulties. Wrapping paper also smells differently and can be an issue. The feel of wrapping paper and sellotape can cause major sensory avoidance. On the flip side, some of us may love the smell, the colour and the noise!
We hope this blog for Christmas shopping for people on the spectrum has helped. We know what we like and we know what we don’t like. We also often don’t have any filter and therefore we will quite likely tell you if we don’t like something (so please don’t be offended). It’s not because we want to upset you but it’s just the way we are. Plus wouldn’t you prefer to spend your money on something someone wants?
We have loads more tips to help you through the festive season and a category dedicated to sensory stocking fillers on our website. As always we are on hand to answer any questions via Facebook messenger and if you’re unsure what your sensory identity is you can access our free course and our SPD Knowledge Pack.