Purple Ella outside, alongside Christmas quote graphic

 

As part of our Christmas campaign, we caught up with content creator, and autistic woman, Purple Ella, who talks about the challenges of juggling Christmas fun, and what processes she puts in place at home to ensure the whole family get to enjoy Christmas without being overwhelmed.

I once spent a Christmas season working as a balloon modelling elf, entertaining a queue for Father Christmas. I was regularly told I made a very convincing elf, which I take as a huge compliment!

What is Christmas like at your house?

The build up to Christmas is exciting but can also be stressful if we don’t get the balance of activity and down time right. We plan some specific activities to get into the mood, but bear in mind Christmas chores, and end of term stuff for the children, so that we don’t end up overloaded.

Do you have to make changes to a ‘traditional’ Christmas?

We have lots of decorations, I really enjoy the sensory experience of all the sparkly lights and pretty things. I love the smell of the Christmas tree! Luckily my children’s favourite meal is a roast dinner, so we basically just have a roast with a few optional extras for Christmas dinner.

We probably don’t do as much socialising around Christmas as many people do, as I find it stressful and overwhelming socialising outside of my closest friendships, and in large groups. I find it hard to relax with others in my house because I feel I have to be on form socially and that takes effort which causes me to burn out, or become anxious if I have to do it a lot.

Christmas shopping is another problem for me. I really can’t stand crowded Christmas shops and the pressure to buy something that another person will enjoy. I try to be organised, and buy in advance or online, but this year I’m planning to make some of my gifts. Receiving presents is also tricky, because I’m not great with surprises, especially if the focus is on me unwrapping and having to react to my gift. Sometimes it takes me time to process something new entering my life, and even longer to accept it as part of my universe! I’m more likely to give you a genuine thank you several days later when I’ve figured out that I love it.

How do challenges you may face over Christmas make you and your family feel?

It’s never easy when I feel I can’t cope with things the way I perceive others are coping. In the past I used to feel faulty and incapable. Now though I try to embrace my autism, and see the positives as well as the challenges. I may not be able to handle a crowded supermarket on Christmas Eve, or cope with loud music or Christmas parties but there’s still lots that I can enjoy about Christmas.

How do you envision a perfect Christmas?

A perfect Christmas is with my husband, our children, my dog and my cat in our home. After lunch we all spend time either playing a board game, or building any Lego sets we have been gifted. I love to sing, so some Christmas karaoke in the afternoon, I do love to belt out a Mariah Carey Christmas song. Finished off with a buffet tea including all of our favourite foods. Then of course settling in for Dr Who in the evening.

Have you been supported by the National Autistic Society?

I regularly use the National Autistic Society’s website to find information. I also find the Twitter and Facebook feed informative and entertaining.

There is a song, “the most wonderful time of the year”. What would you say Christmas is to you?

Christmas is the most sparkly time of the year...

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