If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my 4 year old son, Sam has autism. He doesn’t speak yet, and his sensory needs mean it can be really challenging for him to be out and about. He is prone to aggressive meltdowns when something triggers him.
Last month, we were all really excited about Christmas. On the second Saturday in December, the four of us set off to the Trafford Centre to see what was going on. Usually, this would mean me putting Sam in his special needs pushchair and him being unhappy most of the time. As he’d been doing so well walking from the car to school, I decided to see how we managed without it. 3 hours later, I posted this status on Facebook…
It was, by far our most successful family outing, to date! Sam walked from place to place, holding my hand nicely. He didn’t run off, and followed instructions too. We were so proud of how well Sam did, it made us completely rethink our decision not to take Sam to visit Santa.
Christmas 2014 involved Sam visiting Santa twice. The first time at Center Parcs, where Sam had a huge meltdown and threw a plate of chocolate coins at the man in red – Twice. The second visit was to the Trafford Centre Grotto, and he was really unsettled throughout. Based on these experiences, we had decided not to take Sam this year, and let Sydney (our 3 year old) go with her Daddy, so she could enjoy it fully.
After Sam’s amazing day, we booked all 4 of us in to see Santa on Monday 21st Dec. When we got there early, I was worried Sam would get really grumpy and impatient. He didn’t though. He waited really patiently for over 15 minutes. I kept telling Sam and Syd we were going to see Santa’s workshop and meet him, and Sam seemed to really get excited about this.
The workshop had loads of activities for the children (and grown ups) to enjoy. We walked through a mirror maze, and then Sam put some decorations on the Christmas Tree. He helped to weigh some christmas presents on the giant scales, ran around looking at all the lights and squealing with excitement. There was loads more to do, but Sam was happy enough running around.
When we went to view Santa, Sam wasn’t very happy. He wanted to stay out in the workshop. He sat on my knee though and let Father Christmas do his thing. He wouldn’t take a present, but he did give the man in red a high-5 as we were leaving. I’d definitely call that progress over the previous visits!
The photo wasn’t as good as I’d hoped, but you get the idea. He’s sat on my knee, humouring us and putting his hands in the air like Father Christmas said…! I am so so proud of how far Sam has come, and of everything he’s achieved recently. I took him for a day out on the East Lancs Railway last weekend, but that’s a post for another day…!