Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It’s not too early, is it? I have had my tree up since 30th November and I think that should be allowed considering the year we have had.

As we look back over 2020 it was one turbulent ride but with light at the end of the tunnel, I hope we can soon start to look forward and begin to start planning again.

As you will all be aware 2020 has taken its toll on our services and how we can interact and support you. In March we had to close all of our Support groups across the country and were unable to open these after the first lockdown as we were unable o make them truly secure for you and your family. We are now working towards getting these back up and running for March ’21 depending on how things go but we can’t wait to to see you all again.

Although this year has certainly been difficult it has made us work differently and look for new opportunities none of which were as big as our online Autism Information Day which was accessed by over 1800 people before the 4th December. it was great to see so many people involved from speakers to stallholders and the attendees themselves. Lot’s of great discussions going on during the Zoom sessions and plenty more questions and answers afterwards. This worked so well this year that we are considering making this an annual online event. What do you think?

With Christmas on the horizon, I hope you have managed to find time to get those presents from your highstreets or the Amazon deliveries have made it on time, but the big changes in routine and te expectations can be the ultimate challenge for someone with Autism and Neurodiversity. I headed over to our Social Media Profiles to get some ideas from you about how to make Christmas a much more bearable experience fro you and your families. Here are a few I have picked out for you:

Don’t give all presents at once. Steady them out throughout the day to allow time to process and regulate

Gemm (Facebook)

I would say try to tone down the hype around Santa coming on Christmas Eve, too much excitement and lack of sleep teamed with the massive build-up can quickly cause sensory overload on Christmas morning

Lauren (Facebook)

I fully agree with spacing out presents, over several days if necessary.

If you have relatives who want to swamp them with presents and then watch them open them all, you could explain in advance that they find it too much in one go, but that doesn’t mean you don’t all appreciate the effort/thought/sentiment etc.

Oh and if someone’s Christmas dinner is chicken breast, mashed potato, raw carrot and absolutely no gravy, that’s ok😀

Sandra (Facebook)

My tips are to keep the decorations to one area of the house making it easier to escape if people become overwhelmed or frustrated and don’t try to reach other peoples expectations. You have a day that you and your family can enjoy and that’s all that matters.

More tips and advice about Christmas can be found on the National Autistic Societies website here

Do you have any tips for a stress-free Christmas (if there is such a thing) share them with us on our Facebook / Twitter or leave them in the comment section below?

As we look forward to the New Year, have you ever wanted to take on a new challenge and try something new??

What about becoming a member of our Board of Trustees ?

It might sound like a lot of work and stress but we meet 4 times a year to discuss the charity makes plans for the next few months and ensure we are doing everything we can to support those with Autism and their Families.

Think you up to the challenge? Take a look at the role and apply by clicking here

To finish off we are having an extended break over the Christmas after this year I think we all deserve it. So we will be closed from Wednesday 23rd December until 5th January 2021

All that is left for me to do is wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year and for those who do not celebrate Christmas. I hope you have an enjoyable and well-deserved break, but a bigger good wish to all those key workers, NHS staff, Emergency services and retail staff that will keep us going over the festivities.

Lee Gibbons
Operations Manager
ASD Helping Hands