Samantha and Henry, Christmas photo

Next on our Christmas list is Samantha Tomlin, one of our Parent Champions and a model, actress, and mother to 13-year-old Henry, who is autistic.

Samantha discusses the sensory challenges Henry faces at Christmas, and offers advice on avoiding anxiety-inducing situations.  

What is Christmas like at your house?  

Family quiet Christmas.

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

We can now have everything but had to introduce things gradually. I love Christmas and would have 2 trees loads of decorations but it was too much for Henry so we started off simple and now he decorates his own tree with his brother and I have mine (he helps me too).

How do the challenges you may face at Christmas make you/ your family/ your child feel? 

When he was younger he used to have a melt down if someone gave him a present that wasn’t on the list. He couldn’t cope he hadn’t asked for it, even if it was something he’d love. I’d feel so bad for the person that gave it but he just didn’t understand. His anxiety would go through the roof and the build up just made it all magnify.

How do you envision a perfect Christmas?

No tears or meltdowns and we are all happy. It took a while but last year we cracked it :) 

Have you been supported by the National Autistic Society?

Yes, we always turned to the NAS for support and advice. Autism hour is a small thing that will make huge changes in people’s lives. 

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

Christmas is the most sensory challenging time of the year…

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