Christmas From An Autistic Perspective

Lights twinkle and bloom through shades of green, shining brightly and flickering on the decorations that envelope them. The Christmas Tree: a symbol of the family centred celebration of Christmas, a commemoration of the birth of Christ which as time progressed became increasingly secularised, with Santa Claus encapsulating the image of Christ. Everyone loves Christmas, be it the Christian element, or the turkey or even the desire for community. However, as an Autistic person, Christmas is not a celebration which I particularly enjoy. As a child, I loved the celebration of Christmas, I enjoyed the theatrics of preparing for a man to enter our house and leave presents. That being said, as a horror fan, I love Krampus much more. However, as I grew older, I became to realise the problem that faced me; I didn’t like lights or noise. Naturally, I want my brothers to grow up loving Christmas, but I must admit it is a holiday that I prefer to ignore. Autism is a curse and a gift, and that curse manifests through my discomfort of lights, social interaction and noise.

I am an introvert, I find much more comfort in a darkened room and left alone to read my book and because of this, Christmas is difficult for me. If it isn’t the bright lights, the loud screams of customers all swirling in chaos with smiles, laughter and rushing to grab that last present or that last ingredient for dinner, it’s the overall stress of the season. It must be said that family is important, but a family must make Christmas enjoyable for the entire family. It is easier to collectively see Christmas as a time of merriment, whilst dismissing the stress of the minority of silent whispers. I grew up with Autism, but I was completely unaware until the age of 21 when I was assessed. Without this diagnosis, I didn’t understand why Christmas stressed me out or left me overwhelmed after walking through a brightly lit street or being looked down upon by the tyranny of a Christmas tree, but thankfully I understand now. In an ideal situation, I would celebrate Christmas in a way Tim Burton would be proud: a black tree and with the lights switched off. I could be dramatic or I could be more comfortable in realising what I am. Overall, Christmas must accommodate everyone so that everyone can share the joy that it brings to us all.