Day 20. Christmas with Neurodiversity
How can you have a Neuroinclusive Christmas?
While many of us head out to Christmas markets, finish off our Christmas shopping and enjoy the Christmas parties, we may not have considered how these experiences differ for those with Neurodiversity.
The term ‘Neurodiversity’ is used to describe differences in the way people’s brains work and process the world around them. Neurodevelopmental conditions include ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, Tourette’s syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), dyslexia, and dyspraxia.
The National Autistic Society have produced a video that helps understand Neurodivergent experiences of things such as shopping, and crowded places:
The festive season can be overwhelming for all of us. Busy town centres, bustling streets and frantic last minute shoppers can make for a very triggering environment, particularly if you struggle with any of the above conditions – as highlighted in the video.
For ‘Neurominorities‘ the overwhelming feeling a lot of us get at Christmas is often psychologically amplified with sensory overloads, added anxieties, lack of routines, and amplified focus on perfection.
Having a Neuroinclusive Christmas
Re-framing Autism have provided a ‘Neuroinclusive Christmas Planner for Kids’ which can be downloaded here: A Neuroinclusive Christmas Planner for Kids – Reframing Autism. The planner is framed as a letter to Santa for Children to advise what foods, safe spaces, clothing and anything else would help make their Christmas comfortable.
- Make it OK to have quiet time, away from the group activity – have a designated quiet place if necessary.
- Create a relaxed environment around gift opening.
- Avoid rules or expectations around food
- Allow people to bring their own food
- Have ‘stim toys‘ around – and allow the use of them at any time
- Do not impose physical contact
- Respect if someone wants to pass on a gathering
Whatever you can do to make your Christmas inclusive for all, will go a long way in the lives of those who may struggle at Christmas.
A Christmas Gift That Changes Lives
This Christmas, give a gift that will change a life by supporting the Autism Assistance Dog Programme, run by the Autism Dogs Charity. Autism Assistance Dogs are highly skilled working dogs that help to transform the lives of Autistic people and their families. Each dog is trained to perform a number of tasks to help their handler to cope with challenges, manage their anxiety, grow in confidence, interact with others and maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle. They are devoted companions that provide reassurance, security and friendship. Find out more about their dog’s special skills, and the benefits on their website.
It takes an average of £22,000 to fully train a family and their bespoke Autism Assistance Dog. Autism Dogs Charity are striving to eliminate the cost families contribute towards this life changing programme. Everyone who needs it deserves love and support of highly-trained Autism Assistance Dogs. To make this a reality, there are three main ways you can help:
- Fostering – could you foster a dog that could help?
- Volunteering – learn new skills while supporting
- Financial support – help to change lives
If you or someone you know could benefit from an Autism Assistance Dog, the waiting list for a limited number of enrolments is now open: Applications open! | Autism Dogs CIC
Autism Plus – Supporting adults and young people with autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions and complex needs
WHISH – Support and guidance to families affected by hidden impairments in Whitby and the surrounding areas
Hoarding UK – the only UK-wide charity dedicated to supporting people affected by hoarding behaviours.
Dyslexia Network Plus – a local association in North Yorkshire to support people with dyslexia, dyslexic type difficulties and other specific difficulties with literacy and numeracy.
National Autistic Society – here to help the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families.
British Dyslexia Association – a membership organisation working to achieve a dyslexia-friendly society for all.
The ADHD Foundation Neurodiversity Charity – an integrated health and education service
Have a Neuroinclusive Christmas! For more information on Neurodiversity, see CALM’s website here.