When Xmas becomes a Nightmare, HFA meltdowns



We think that the entire world love Xmas, but not everyone does. When Xmas becomes a nightmare for neurotypicals, can you imagine how it must be like for an autistic person? My Vulcan is Italian. He was raised into a very stereotypical Italian family who celebrated Xmas very much in the way the video up above shows up. Even if you don’t understand what they say, you can feel that the main character is fed up with getting scarfs as presents, while the kid gets 300 bucks, cannot stand the staggering amounts of food that the family serves, and is annoyed to death with Gestapo questionnaires, Xmas poetry and noisy folks. And yes, the Xmas tree in process of biodegradation is not an exaggeration! [My cousin left hers at the entrance of the house three years ago… Colors have started to fade out. Just saying that… the Xmas tree thing is real!] So, if it can be such a nightmare for us, can you imagine how it might be for an autistic fellow? Living hell!

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So, if the kid in the video asks her Mom if he’s in hell when his aunt is just bringing out endless food out of the kitchen, what can an autistic person feel in the same situation? My Vulcan found out about his autism while being an adult; this means that he had to endure Italian Xmas parties during most of his life. Parties are not only annoying, but they can also become the mother source for a great panic attack or a huge meltdown. Think about how happy people is during these parties: we overreact. Our excitement makes us talk louder, make more gestures, and laugh and giggle more than usual. For an autistic person who has difficulties in decoding what that face might mean, this is living hell. There is no time for the Vulcan to process all the data, so he is constantly trying to decode without success. This makes nerves and stress rise, so the numbers for the Meltdown Lottery end up being staggering!

Not only decoding people’s faces is challenging, but also how you’re supposed to act during Xmas. If you are unable to show up a happy face or to do what others do, they will start complaining about your unnatural behavior, how depressed you might be, or simply might say that you’re the evil one. This also makes a Vulcan extremely stressed up. Welcome to hell. Free tickets are available for Xmas every year at home!

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But if you think my Vulcan’s nightmare lasts just during a day, you’re wrong. Choosing what to give away as a Xmas present is another living hell for him. He has a hard time in choosing presents for people. It doesn’t matter if it’s Xmas or a birthday, the hardships are there. The only thing that changes is that you have to give presents to everyone in the family during Xmas, and that means to become nuts. Since he is a logical being, he tends to choose practical and useful presents. These might include all types of food, machines, and even cables that you might need to plug your computer. As you can see, these are not considered by neurotypicals as customary Xmas presents. [Picture me getting a USB stick as present and having a poker face because of it!]

So, how can you help? How can you make a Xmas party that isn’t a living hell for the person you love? I’ve mentioned it before in this blog talking about presents. The best thing is creating a list and hanging it on a visible place, like the fridge. In my case presents are easy: Funkos and all types of geekery related to my favorite fandoms. As a collector, this comes in handy, because I just need to list what I would like to have, leave it there on the fridge, and erase those things I get as presents. This might sound cold to some people, but it’s very useful for us. Not only I help him to get something for me as a present, but I’m also surprised because I never know what I’ll get from the list.

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But what happens with the rest of the family? Or friends? Consider guiding your Vulcan. Do not leave him alone. He’ll hate the planet, and every single being within just because choosing something not practical, ilogical and not useful goes against his logic. Whatever you advice (it might be as useless as a Funko), argue that the other person will be happy during the rest of the year. So, mission accomplished!

Help your Vulcan through Xmas parties like the one at the top of this post. This means that if you can’t avoid the gathering, you have to help him through it. You’re his wall, so try to make things easy for him. And propose to him to go outside and take a walk, or just go and breath some air alone far away from family when you see that he is starting to not being able to cope up with it.

However, the best solution is to celebrate it alone at home. You either go to the party alone as neurotypical and the day after you do your personal mini party with your Vulcan, or you celebrate it with your Vulcan and then you visit your family.

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Remember: you are happy surrounded by people. HFA folks like my Vulcan are not. They stress out during these type of gatherings. If you want to have a nice Xmas, do something in between so that you and your Vulcan can be happy. It’s easy! Besides, this is the best present you can give to your Vulcan 🙂


Notes:

  • Endless food coming out of the kitchen: this is the worse nightmare we have during Xmas and the New Year party! Not only Italian households need to go into extreme diets from January 1st onwards. And it’s also real, you end up eating Xmas leftovers beyond January 6!
  • Gestapo interrogations: this is also real. For some reason, you always have an uncle or aunt who is only interested in putting you down by asking you all sorts of questions, including your undies size [just because you might be too thin or too fat… whatever you answer it will always be wrong.]
  • Xmas carols loops: this is real all over the world. Blame Starbucks to start the Jingle Bells just after Halloween ends!
  • The Xmas tree from ten years ago that is still looming in your home is also real… in so many households!

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Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com / Memes (C) by their owners.

About pepi

A Geek Girl interested in Geek Anthropology, comic books, books, Superheroes and discovering all about pop culture.

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