Christmas with an autistic child can be many things, straightforward generally isn’t one of them. For many young auties sensory overload, change to routine, new people, food, decorations can cause unbeatable strain. My daughter however just lets everything drift by her.
Last year (I’ll admit she was only 19 months) Christmas may as well of not happened for her. The tree went up along with lots of pretty decorations which she barely glanced at. On Christmas morning she freaked out because she wanted to watch her programme first thing (it was 40 minutes minimum and was her “routine.”) Presents were handed to her and instantly tossed aside without even turning her eyes to them. This happens with everything she isn’t interested in still to this day. Toys are not enjoyed in fact they are almost feared until she adjusts to them. This can take an hour or a week, sometimes never. Christmas dinner was a waste of time for her really. I thought it was scrum my, my first ever Christmas dinner bought, prepared and cooked after having my son on the 21st! I was doing the traditional approach which now seems ridiculous considering my daughter is far from traditional.
Well a year on and I’ve learned a fair few tricks. Christmas started early in our house, well the prep did anyway. Toys and books playing carols and Christmas songs become a firm favourite. Every visitor cracked up at the relentlessness of the little penguin singing ‘have yourself a merry little Christmas’ on repeat as my girl played it over and over again watching intently as he dances from side to side. For me watching her smile as he sings his little song means she is appreciating and taking part in Christmas and stuff everyone else.
My children rarely eat sweets or chocolate (apart from in the advent calendar hehe) and I don’t want that to change too much at Christmas leaving me with two sugar addled toddlers climbing the walls then crashing dramatically or worse…throwing it all up.
We have been testing out Christmas recipes for a while now and here is a selection of the best for both the big day and party ideas.
Sweetcorn Fritters:These are great and so simple, a tin of sweetcorn drained, dried and mixed in a batter then shallow fried. You can add a touch of paprika to the batter, a handful of spring onions to the sweetcorn or anything else that takes your fancy. Great starter with sweet chilli dip or for a party snack.
Turkey Kebabs: Simply seal cubed turkey in a pan, skewer, roll in a lightly beaten egg yolk and then in breadcrumbs and Parmesan mix spray them with oil and grill rotating so all sides crisp up. These are my childrens Christmas protein served with cranberry dip (strained cranberry sauce!)
Parsnip Purée and honey Parsnips: We like parsnips! For both peel and slice your parsnips up into chips then boil in salted water until soft. Split into two pots:
Puree pot: This puree is beautifully sweet and smooth and a perfect way to fool your kiddies into eating a vegetable they might otherwise avoid. Make sure they are drained fully then add to a food processor with a couple of roasted garlic cloves and a blend. Keep adding double cream and tasting until smooth and creamy. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.
Sticky, crunchy parsnip pot: These honey coated (cooked) parsnips are grilled to caramelise and crisp up and are truly delicious “ahem” chips. Dry off your cooked parsnips drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt and stick under the grill turning as necessary until lovely and crisp.
Creamy orange mash: Boil your potatoes (secret handful of carrots and even suede if you really want to amp up the veggies, all in the one pot) drain and mash with a dollop of butter and a splash of cream if you fancy, this yummy mash always goes down well.
Chocolate orange and raisin lollipops will finish the meal and are great at a party! Melt your chocolate and grate in some orange zest and add raisins nuts etc then simply smear it on some grease-proof paper with a lollipop stick and leave to cool. Easy peasy.
Another great option is jelly! Use a sugar free and mix with juice of your choice and leave to set. You can also add tinned fruit if you’re feeling adventurous or sweeties even. On the other hand you could add a big old slug of vodka and keep it faaaar away from the kiddies!
The biggest change since last year is my attitude, if she doesn’t want to open presents then fair enough, if she wants to sit and watch the first three minutes of the Peppa Pig Christmas episode over and over and over again well then everyone needs to let her be. At least it’s a Christmassy episode. It’s her Christmas too.