Excuse me everyone! Never ever prejudge the Pickle!
Well I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, but the Pickle did good this Christmas! When I look back to the weeks leading up to the big day, the anxiety I was feeling after last year’s disaster was huge. It made me a little crazy throughout December, but yet again, the Pickle has shown me not to make assumptions about what he can’t or won’t do.
On Christmas eve, we went down to the Village Green with our puppy and the Pickle to sing carols. We had both toddler and puppy on a lead! Probably the puppy was the easier to hold on to, but Pickle loved it. He became a bit over excited at ‘Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer’ and after that the stimming, spinning and trying to lie on the muddy grass became a little too difficult for us to handle, but instead of feeling frustrated and wishing things were different, I just felt pleased he had enjoyed 4 carols and he obviously really likes that particular one. My husband and I realised, and accepted that it was probably a good time to head back!
Before the Pickle went to bed, we showed him his empty stocking and hung it up on the fireplace. Then we took it down, and showed him again. Then we encouraged him to do it. When it went up for the third time, we clapped and cheered. On Christmas morning, when we showed the Pickle his stocking filled with chocolate and toys, he was delighted! We all sat in bed together whilst he had a look through. He ate chocolate for breakfast and really liked a squidgy stress ball that was inside.
I bought the Pickle an elf costume again this year. If you read my other post about Christmas you’ll see I did this for his first one when I was full of ‘new mum’ hope and I had no idea that he was ASD. I thought hey, lets do it again. And he was very pleased! Especially with the button on the front that played Jingle Bells over and over and over. Still, any parent of an ASD child is totally immune to repetitive, annoying noise! 😉
We opened some presents as a family, and the Pickle opened three! Granted, they weren’t all HIS presents, he stole some of daddies, but he opened one for him with a backpack from us. Here he is sporting his new backpack in his elf costume:
He did lose interest, and there’s still a little pile for him under the Christmas tree, but that’s ok. He can open them when he’s ready. Maybe they can be New Years Eve presents!
When we visited family, it was the usual hustle, bustle and busyness. Last year, I had been so desperate to keep everyone happy by forcing the Pickle to open their many presents and look happy at what he’d received, I needed him to stay focused, and eat his Christmas dinner and perform like a child should. This year was different. I wanted to make sure that the Pickle was happy and ok, and if that meant he wanted time out, or he needed the iPad rather than presents, or if he didn’t want to be with everyone, then so be it. The phrase ‘short bursts’ kept going around in my head. It’s so overwhelming for a child with ASD to have your routine changed, be surrounded by lots people doing lots of different things, have lots of different noises, and more than one person talking at the same time. And there were a few times that he switched off from everyone, and I sat him down with the iPad, and just let him be. I also asked others to leave him alone as well if I felt it was necessary.
He was so tired by the end of the day, I know this because he sat down and watched the Snowman from beginning to end, without trying to rewind the opening credits over and over!! And that in itself was lovely because I got to cuddle him and watch it with him.
It was a really, really lovely day. And I am so proud of the Pickle and how far he has come since last Christmas. He coped so well and he will never ever stop amazing me and showing me that he is always capable of learning and progressing and coping with this crazy world around him!
I believe that another very important change this year, came from myself. This year was different to previous years. We have a diagnosis and I am better educated about ASD, sensory issues and the difficulties that our ASD children face. It’s incredible how easy things actually became when I changed my expectations, thought process and my attitude. When I stopped wanting the Pickle to conform to what I wanted, to what others expected, when I stopped wishing things were different and letting go of the set ideals I had in my mind about how Christmas should be. I tried really hard this year to see the world through his eyes, and kept repeating the mantra that “It is what it is”. We are all very blessed to have each other.
Well done Pickle! Keep showing us what life is all about! You will always be my life teacher and I forever your student 😀