The build up to Christmas with Joe is always quite stressful - he finds the anticipation of it all overwhelming and by Christmas Eve it's just too much!
He gets very anxious, rather than excited, about not going to sleep. He will talk about this constantly up to Christmas and spends half the time worrying about this ... it's as if he knows if he doesn't go to sleep Father Christmas won't bring his presents!
Christmas Eve is full of rituals such as putting out the mince pies, milk, carrots and the reindeer food, and it doesn't seem as if it's a fun thing for Joe ... it's like things that have to be ticked off the list so that he can go to bed and he can go to sleep. It’s a very stressful time for him and sometimes it's quite painful to watch. We just have to try and jolly him through it as much as we can with lots of cuddles and laughter where we can fit it in!
Christmas Day he gets up and rather than tearing through all his presents like most children, he will open the first one (generally a book because Joe is obsessed with books) and he will sit and read it. His dad and I are sat there like two impatient children waiting for him to open the next one - it's ridiculous!
He would then like to be left alone with his presents (his new books!) for the rest of the day but we have to see the rest of the family! Sitting down for food is not one of Joe's favourite things, food is never a motivating factor, so Christmas dinner he will just eat a little bit and then we just let him get down because there is no point keeping him at the table because he will just get more and more stressed and cross. The whole family understand it's much better for all for him to go and read a book. He will join in games afterwards but just needs his reading breaks to get through spending all day with lots of people.
All in all, we try to make Joe happy during the family Christmas, as we would any child, but we know that sometimes he needs breaks from it all and softer handling. We also know that he absolutely loves getting his new books and perhaps a new Lego set for Christmas but that he would very much like to get back into his normal routine as quickly as possible.
To watch Joe Salt star in our 'when will we learn?' campaign video, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbGKMtObayI