Monday 23 December 2019

The Joys of silly season! December 2019

The demands of Christmas are sometimes completely overwhelming.  Buying the right
stuff, in the right shops at the right time for the right people. But the difficulties go beyond that.
Many autistic people are able to feel the weight of social expectation. For me it feels like a
suffocating pressure squeezing me into the neurotypical world. A world where I know I will
struggle, where I have struggled and where I have more recently spent much less time.
The pressure to engage in traditions that mean nothing to me. I don’t believe in Christmas
in the biblical sense of the word but I don’t inflict my opinions on others and am not
planning to start today because not even that is the most important thing to me.
The absolute most important thing to me is doing Christmas in our way. Doing what I can
to avoid the fuss and keep our version of normality at the forefront of everything we do.
Just because its Christmas doesn’t mean that outside influences should be forced upon
us. Christmas is an event created by people who don’t fit into our normal and who quite
frankly would probably hate it and that's ok.

Despite being an adult and being able to make choices for myself I still feel that overwhelming weight of expectation. It stops me from sleeping well, from focussing on the things that are important to me, it disrupts everyone's routine.

And for our children these expectations are greater still so it is our job as parents no
matter what our issues are to make sure that these expectations don’t become coercion or
guilt trips for our children. It is very easy for others to think it is ok to "encourage" our
children to join in with, do or say something that makes them feel uncomfortable. We have
to stay vigilant.

For years and years I conformed to social expectations around this time of year.
Repeating the process year after year did not make Christmas easier for me, in fact as
each year went by it became harder and harder. Yet, it is only since I began my journey
towards empowering H that I have learned to empower myself.

So now I say no, I want to shout it from the rooftops, no, no, no, no more. I am putting an end to complying to traditions that mean nothing to me and by being brave enough to say no I hope I can empower H and other autistic people to be brave enough to put themselves first and keep themselves and their mental health safe.

Why would we spent so much time empowering H to have a voice only to have someone
coerce/guilt her into something that is purely based on the social expectations of others?
From today I am saying no more.

Rachel Tenacious

A little bit about me, I am a late
diagnosed autistic parent with three
children aged between 31 and 17. H is
my youngest child she was diagnosed
with autism at age 9 and selective
mutism at 15.
We removed H from the education
system in 2015 after she had what we
now know as an autistic burn-out.
The school system didn’t suit H at all
but home ed has been amazing.
Since my diagnosis I have begun to
share some of our experiences at
support groups and am hoping to
expand this out to schools, colleges
and anywhere people will listen