I have been trying to get Joshua into the Christmas spirit since last Friday, by sending him to school each day in a Christmas jumper. He has so many now that he would not get the wear out of them if he saved them for parties – he doesn’t go to many! – and Christmas day. I started last friday, on the day that our towns’ Christmas lights were switched on. I took him into school and his festive knitwear made lots of people smile, so mission accomplished! He has five Christmas jumpers that we can rotate, to mix it up a bit and so that he can always wear a clean one.
But I see that next Friday is actually an official Christmas jumper day at school and so he is well ahead of that game. But on that day he will be able to donate to charity in order to continue wearing his Santa jumper. That is convenient as that is the day that he goes to his respite provision, the last one for 2018, and they ask that he also wears a Christmas jumper as they will be planning festivities there all weekend.
I have heard Joshua utter the word ‘Santa’ but beyond that, I am not sure that he is very interested in the celebration. Joshua is bored by opening gifts – he would much prefer,as he did the other weekend, to discover a hidden guitar, and begin to play it, without any of the hassle of wrapping paper , which is not easy to remove with just one working hand! It can often take us until New Year for Joshua to open his presents as we have to do it in stages to maintain his interest, which will be alien to many families where the children have torn the wrapping off on Christmas morning before it is even light.
He enjoyed last friday’s Switch On night for the spectacle and the sociability of the evening but not because it got him into the mood for Christmas. In the same way, he will enjoy the family gatherings that are planned, but will not join in with any festive crafts or playing of board games. I have bought some fun table games to try to engage him – pass the brussel sprout parcel and a game where you try to loop a ring over some inflatable antlers worn by a child, which might interest him. Joshua loves a cracker and has tended to monopolise pulling them : he enjoys the pull and the bang, but has no interest in who wins the contents and no paper hats are allowed to be worn by anyone within his reach.
Joshua’s experience of Christmas is different to that of most children but I will continue to try to engage him and he can opt out of whatever does not interest him. Often Christmas is a key time for epilepsy to strike as the key triggers are usually there in abundance : excitement, lack of sleep, unusual mealtimes coupled with some end of term cold germs, so there is a need to be extra vigilant.