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Experiences don't always happen in the right order...

As parents we have pre- established expectations, whether or not we are aware of it, often before our children are ever born.

It can be thoughts of birthday parties, school events, or family celebrations.

Having a child with additional needs can change these expectations and that is absolutely fine and valid. This change of expectation can come with a tinge of disappointment or even grieving.

The one thing I have learnt over the past 18 1/2 years is that these expectations should not be time limited.

As a child, Pie was unable to engage in many childhood activities. Christmas would be a time of enormous anxiety, overwhelm and depression. Eight years ago any mention of Christmas would be met with “Christmas go away”.

In the past year or two he has learnt the rhythm of Christmas, largely thanks to the two Christmases we were shielding. For these two years there was no expectation that there would be a Christmas event because they couldn’t happen. He found that complete break was the processing time that he needed to begin to accept some of these things.

It isn’t always easy but Pie is now beginning to enjoy childhood in the year he became an adult, and I couldn’t be happier for him. This week his love of steam trains and his new found acceptance of Christmas were fused when he went on the Polar Express with his best friend. He is so proud of his “first gift of Christmas” bell and loves ringing it.

Do I think he missed out as a child? No, his needs were met and accounted for. However, now the time is right, he is embracing things he enjoys.

Just because your child doesn't embrace "childhood traditions" when they're a child, don't assume they won't later in life. Time is not a straight line of experiences when you're the parent of a child with additional needs. It goes up, down, forwards, backwards and quite frankly all over the place.

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