Surviving Christmas with a kid with ADHD

Christmas is always a hard time with kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD and autism.

All the sensory input, the lights, the music, the excitement, how busy everybody gets, it can all get a bit much. Then comes the meltdowns, the anger, the over excitement, the fights, the arguing. Then he is back to laughing and singing and making his christmas lists once more. Repeat this for pretty much the whole of December and this is pretty much our life in the lead up to Christmas.

And yet- Christmas is our favourite time of the year, despite the sensory overload, the lack of routine and the hustle and bustle of Christmas Korey will still tell you he loves Christmas, he just struggles. And when you are able to recognise the signs of him struggling you are able to safety net and reign him in a bit. It’s not always effective, sometimes he just needs to have that meltdown to reset himself and get on with his day, in these instances he just needs to take himself away from it all, blutac in hand, and have five minutes.

So we always put our tree up as quickly as we can, this year we went with November 30th. We like to prepare Korey that Christmas is coming, he likes the tree going up and there is never any meltdowns during this process.

This is the calm before the storm.

Korey always struggles at school during Christmas time. Made worse this year by the fact that he hasnt settled in his new class, his teacher doesnt understand alot to do with ADHD and that’s not her fault, she just needs help to understand Koreys needs.

Unfortunately it did mean she wasnt able to see the warning signs of impending meltdowns. He did well in the first week of December then he really kicked in with those meltdowns. At one point I picked him up from school and he was sat in a corner rocking. I immediately called an emergency senco meeting. I doubled up on the blutac, he got a timeout pass that he can use when he needs a five minute break which enables him to leave the classroom.
These really helped.
We had the school performances and Korey did amazing under the circumstances. He loves to sing so he was really happy. I went to both performances to make sure he was ok.
That was the same week we broke up, it was like all the stress left his body.
He seemed so much happier after that, he didnt have any more meltdowns and stopped shutting his friends out (this is another coping mechanism, he shuts all his friends out)
So now school was out of the way we had to do all the family gatherings which comes with it’s own sets of challenges.
We come from a big family so we stagger family gatherings, we had one to do on a Saturday and another on the Sunday. We took his tablet incase he wanted to just sit and play his game (I really dont care about the judgemental mums out there, I’m picking my battles) he knows to put it down when it’s time to eat and that’s good enough for me, he also had his time out card which he just needed to show an adult of his choice to take him out for some air. My brother took one for the team and was brilliant with him. He went out twice.

But that’s nothing compared to the “playing up” we would have got had he have not had his tablet, or his time out card. Or just family that understood and didnt judge us for the way we choose to deal with Koreys needs.

The next day we had our final family gathering and again, we took the time out card, we left the tablet at home this time because he wouldnt be sitting at a table, it was at my nan’s house and we had spoken previously and she explained if Korey struggled she wouldnt be offended if we left early.
He did manage an hour and a half before he started bouncing off the walls and so we took our leave.

Korey went to his dads for Christmas morning this year (we alternate) and he left us at 5pm Christmas Eve. So we didnt particularly get any meltdowns or hyperactivity, but I remember the year before. He wouldnt sleep, he was so excited that he was literally knocking everything over, jumping around everywhere and just generally all over the place. He still got his Christmas eve box which he opened before he left.

I didnt mention the elf did I? He absolutely loves the Elf On The Shelf and really enjoys seeing what he gets up to, I do feel the elf helps in the build up, and he praises Korey for anything good he sees in the run up.

Korey came back to us at 3pm the next day (Christmas Day) and we just expect alot of noise, alot of excitement and all the rules go out of the window. This can be said for any kid though cant it?
Korey gets alot of sensory toys at Christmas which because they are new and exciting they help to calm him down, eventually.

The tree comes down the day after boxing day to give Korey the normality back and all the hustle and bustle goes away. We level peg again.

I think overall we did well this year surviving Christmas and I just think it’s because we have learnt as we go along, what works and what doesnt work. For Korey.
We can spot the warning signs quickly and know when to take our leave, or when Korey needs to just take himself out of the situation.
It all takes practise and every year we take note and use it again the next year!

Do you have a child with autism or ADHD? What tips do you have?

We hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful New Year