Christmas is indeed a wonderful time of the year for a multitude of reasons. It is a time when gifts are exchanged between family and friends, along with tasty treats and the nice sights of coloured lights and decorations. It is also a chance to get together and catch up with family and friends too who you may not have seen for a while.
One of my favourite things about Christmas is seeing lights of different colours, not only in your home but when I’m out and about in the streets. This reminds me of the range of abilities of those of us on the autism spectrum along with its signs. It also shows how we are all different and unique, and the many different challenges we face.
I’ve already mentioned that Christmas is a time for socialising, and those of us can experience difficulties when interacting with others. I have already written a post about socialising, based on my experiences. You’re welcome to have a read of it.
The educational side of Christmas
However, one thing we could do is look at Christmas from an educational point of view to aid your child's learning outside school. I have autism, and in case you don’t already know, I experienced language and speech development delays. This led to me having difficulties understanding what I was being asked to do, taking things literally, applying new knowledge and mastering new concepts.
I am fascinated with number operations and especially large numbers. One year, when Christmas Day had just passed, I longed to calculate the number of seconds before next Christmas.
How a child with autism can learn to understand maths.
Once I mastered and developed my understanding of multiplication, I liked to calculate how many days, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds there are to Christmas in the days, weeks, and months before it.
If one is into art, there are a variety of ways to put their skills to good use during the Christmas season. Using coloured paper and cards and white cotton wool, one could make their own Santa Claus.
And if they’re feeling really adventurous, maybe even a sleigh and some boxes resembling presents to go in the sleigh. And lastly, if there is string available, one could draw some reindeer and attach these to the sleigh using the pieces of string. This will represent the reindeer pulling the sleigh.
Another option could be to think up your own ideas for your own Christmas card designs.
I used to like putting up decorations, decorating the tree with baubles, tinsel, and coloured lights. This, I find, can encourage creativity in you. It can also teach you the importance of dividing things out evenly, as I liked to spread out the decorations and lights on the tree, trying to cover as much of it as possible.
I have an interest in foreign languages. If you have, you could try learning some Christmas words and phrases, like how to wish one a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’ve listed a few below to get you started.
Joyeux Noel et bonne année (French)
Frohe Weihnachten und Frohes Neues Jahr (German)
Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo (Italian)
Feliz Navidad y próspero año nuevo (Spanish)
One of my favourite Christmases was in 1987 when I got a telescope, at a time when my interest in astronomy was developing. This inspired my talk in class during my primary school years about telescopes, which turned out to be very good. What stood out about my talk was my powers of retention related to the talk.
Lego can be a good present if one is creative and into building things. It can be educational too, and was important in getting me into reading and writing, and being creative too.
During December and on each of the days leading up to Christmas, one could think up their own treasure hunt, where they have boxes with notes in them leading to other boxes with notes elsewhere in your house, eventually leading to perhaps sweets or chocolate. Christmas can be a time for treats.
Learning to read and write with autism
I quickly became interested in the aerobie flying ring, as it could potentially fly for around a quarter of a mile before landing. I did have one once myself but never asked for one at Christmas. To encourage me more into reading, my mum once made up a short story about me losing it after trying to see the ring’s flying capabilities. However, later in the story, I get it back again against all the odds.
Encouraging a child with autism to read
Other presents in years gone by included a star chart along with a start finder. This helped me to learn and locate stars and star patterns in the night sky, according to the time and date. As time went on, I felt inspired to learn more obscure facts about celestial objects in the night sky.
These are a number of examples of how I see Christmas presents being educational and are not exhaustive. I hope these can inspire ideas of your own.
What I plan to have in my Christmas stocking this year(2021)
The book ‘The Reason I Jump’, by Naoki Higashida. I’ve heard that it gives a wonderful insight into the autistic mind, including how it works. I also plan to get a microphone along with a mic cover and microphone stand for a podcast about my autism, to help educate people about it.
I plan to create a podcast linked to my website about my autism. Another plan includes self-publishing some stories that I’ve already written. More details can be found about them on the projects page of this website.
One of the series will be about animals that can say words which rhyme with their respective sounds. They'll also be able to talk to characters who are good at making the respective animal sounds. The plan is to tell the stories in the form of a podcast.
Another important plan for me is to develop my music, especially my piano playing skills.
As well as being a time for receiving, it is also a time for giving.
I plan to put £50 towards funds for each of my nephews and my niece. There will be two presents, one each for two of them, as one of my nephews is still to be born at the time of writing this post. However, there will be a present from me for each of them next year.
Christmas can, no doubt, be seen as a time of celebration, giving and exchanging, and having fun. However, if one looks and thinks carefully, you can find there are educational aspects to it as well.
It is the annual Christian festival that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. For more information see the link below.
The meaning of Christmas
Let me know in the comments section below about your ideas regarding how you might see Christmas as being educational.