Celebrating Christmas

21st December 2022 - by Catherine Nicholls

‘Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock,
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring’
– Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

‘Time for parties, and celebration
people dancin’, all night long
– Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin’ Stevens

These are some Christmas songs we hear each year, that bring excitement, anticipation and joy to many people. But for the neurodiverse community, especially autistic people and those with sensory processing differences, they highlight all the things that are tricky;

  • Lots of noises and bright flashing lights everywhere. From shops to school productions to parties, background noise intensifies in the run-up to Christmas and feels ubiquitous.
  • The pressure to socialise more and have a good time. Work parties can be tough – are you at work and following those behaviour rules, or at a party where different rules can apply? And getting a peaceful break to recharge batteries can be especially difficult.
  • Presents – the unknown under the tree which is intended to show love and thoughtfulness can instead bring dread and anxiety. Will I like it? How do I say thank you for something I don’t really like? Isn’t that lying which I’ve been told I mustn’t do?

Maybe all those things are why a quiet softly lit room can be a haven at this time of year (possibly with a sleepy cat or dog!). And there is definitely a place for the quieter Christmas songs to gently bring us into the festive period. Right now, ‘Silent night, holy night. Sleep in heavenly peace!’ is really appealing.

However you like to celebrate, with lots of noise and people or more quietly, have a wonderful Christmas celebrating it your way.