Christmas is a time for families to come together, with everyone having their own traditions and busy schedules. However, having an autistic member of the family does make things tricky and challenging at times, but also calls for a unique experience with hilarious moments.
One of the challenges of having a sister who cannot talk is trying to work out what she might actually want for Christmas. Sometimes her favourite present is not the most expensive or luxury item, but simply one that is great fun for the day, even if that is simply the sparkling wrapping paper rather than the present itself (which is often the case!) The most popular items to date have been ‘smiley face punch balloons’ with the elastic cords that have resulted in hours of fun.
The funniest Christmas for us was back in 2009, before I had moved out of the family home. We had a chocolate Labrador who was adored by the whole family, especially my sister. Being a greedy Labrador, one of his favourite pastimes at Christmas was to sniff out anything edible that had kindly been placed under the Christmas tree. Whilst chocolate is known to be pretty bad for dogs, if not poisonous, our dog decided to open an entire pack of special drinking chocolate early on Christmas morning.
He torn open the ‘rocky road’ and proceeded to shake the contents over the entire living room floor. He did not, however, stop there continuing to open the remaining five packs, resulting in a chocolate-snow-flake effect across the entire ground floor of our house. Now most families would be devastated to have such a shock first thing on Christmas morning, and be very worried that their dog would be extremely unwell having eaten the entire contents of 6 packs of hot chocolate! However, when my sister Katharine saw the magical snow-like effect she thought this was the funniest thing that had ever happened. She proceeded to giggle for the entire morning, waving her finger at the Labrador in a ‘you’re a naughty boy’ style, resulting in the whole family laughing out loud right up to lunch.
If we didn’t have my sister Katharine, a wonderful addition to the family, we would not be able to make such fun, joy and happiness even out of the bad things that happen. Sure, it can be challenging living with an autistic sister, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Earlier this year ten of my work colleagues and I climbed the highest peak in northern Africa, Mt. Toubkal, to raise money for Ambitious about Autism as we are ambitious! The work that the charity does and the awareness it raises is priceless, and we look forward to our next fundraising event in the New Year.
Nick works for a global sustainability consultancy called Acre in London, where he focuses on connecting people in sustainability, corporate responsibility and the environment with NGO’s, intergovernmental organisations and high profile charities around the world. Nick holds a degree in Environmental Sustainability for the University of Leeds and is passionate about social justice and environmental issues.