When I was growing up, Christmas had always been a happy occasion in my family.

So when I fell pregnant, I couldn’t wait to have these experiences with my child. Obviously, the first Christmas I didn't know he had autism and babies don't understand Christmas, so I made more of a big deal than he understood.

Then we got to the second Christmas, and I thought, "Maybe he'll start understanding" but... no. He showed no interest.

My advice for families who don't quite know what to buy their child for Christmas: think of things they are interested in rather than popular toys.

I thought, "OK, maybe he's still young." And by next Christmas, we knew that he could possibly have autism. That's when it started coming with the fingers in his ears because he didn't like the sound of the papers unwrapping. He didn't like surprises, and there was all this stuff wrapped up. He didn't know what was underneath the wrapping, so he'd hide behind his hands while I'd unwrap a present behind his back and then show him what he'd got. 

He was never interested in what he got, ever. He would sit there, look at them and line them up. But I never actually knew what to buy him. And no matter how hard I tried, he was never really interested in it. 

I think this Christmas may be different, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I still have to prepare him. I have to tell him at least a month in advance that Christmas is coming and I have to remind him on a weekly basis. I try to get him involved with decorating, because he doesn't cope well with change. 

My advice for families who don't quite know what to buy their child for Christmas: think of things that they are interested in rather than popular toys. For instance, if they're a sensory person, for a few years I've done a sensory box for my son and it might include things such as spiky fluffy balls, even a feather duster, because he loves to feel a feather duster on his skin.

And this one box, which will cost £10 from the pound store, will bring him so much pleasure because it’s satisfying his sensory needs. 

So, looking to things autism-wise, the advice I would give to families living just the same life as I am is: never give up hope.

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