I think people probably hear about children with autism being resistant to change, and, in our case, it’s true.
One morning this week, in order to get as much done at once before the children left for school, I decided to try to brush Frances’s hair while she ate breakfast.
She had an immediate meltdown: crying, screaming, and complaining to Pink Cup Dad that I’d interrupted her breakfast.
That was completely my fault: I hadn’t thought about the fact that brushing her hair during breakfast was something we’d never done before.
She notices even the tiniest changes in an environment — whether it be her piano teacher’s studio, her school classroom, or home — and her reaction ranges from complete distraction to meltdown.
With Christmas approaching, I will have to put up decorations slowly, and there is a meltdown every year when I have to take them down.
When the presents are under the tree, it is just too stressful for her for there to be “objects everywhere”.
On Christmas morning, we stagger gift opening, and we try to clean as we go along to minimize the visual stress for her. We do our best not to have guests on that day.
I think that Christmas brings just so much change for Frances — including the stress of anticipation — that, if I could, for her sake I would avoid it altogether.
She may enjoy Christmas without stress one day, but, at eight years old, Christmas (and the change that it entails) is difficult.