This year Christmas has crept up on me. To be honest Christmas has not really ‘crept’ up at all, it has suddenly ‘plonked’ itself in my life out of the blue as I have been preoccupied with my beautiful son.
I am not complaining as Oliver is the most wonderful gift I could ever imagine. 

This evening I was reminded that we are missing a Christmas tree at home. We have a rather modern structure that resembles a tree but nothing traditional. Oliver loves the sensory experience of looking at the ‘tree’ as I make futile efforts to change his nappy whilst attempting to avoid flying liquids.

Joe showed me with pride the Christmas tree at his house a few days ago via Facetime. This evening I had the pleasure of seeing it first hand. Joe introduced me to the tree from a distance of around five metres. In fact the closest Joe got to the tree is seen in this photo below.
  

You could be forgiven for thinking that Joe is allergic to Christmas trees. In part you would be correct. Joe is utterly terrified of Christmas trees. He requires a lot of encouragement to even touch the tree. 

I found out about Joe’s fear of Christmas trees a number of years ago as I attempted to bundle him into the car next to a Norway Spruce. Anybody watching this scene from across Asda car park might have thought I was attempting to cause Joe serious harm. Eventually we managed to get Joe in the car. However he had to sit in the back alongside my wife and his mum. The Norway Spruce got pride of place in the front seat. 

I am not sure if Joe has been assaulted by a Christmas tree in the past or if he just does not like the feel of them. I suppose we all have fears. 

I hate clowns. In truth it is not only clowns, it is anything dressed up in a sinister manner. There is no logic behind my fear. It would be hypocritical of me to force Joe next to a Christmas tree unless I would be willing to share a coffee with a clown. 

That is not going to happen. 

The National Autistic Trust suggest that a sensory overload can ’cause stress, anxiety, and possibly physical pain. This can result in withdrawal, challenging behaviour or meltdown’. Anxiety certainly describes Joe in the presence of a Christmas tree. 

On my drive home I was thinking about the sensory differences of different people. I still remember a group I went to where the leader found it utterly hilarious that a boy did not like balloons being popped. The leader thoroughly enjoyed pointing out to the whole group that this boy was a ‘wimp’. 

Some fifteen years later I learnt that boy was autistic. 

I do wonder if Joe will be quite as afraid of the tree if all his Christmas presents are placed under it. Perhaps not. As long as my presents are not delivered by a clown…

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