I have never been a fan of celebrations. Whether it be a birthday, an achievement or an annual event such as Christmas it will bring me dread.

Most people I know will look forward to their birthday – a day where all attention is on them. I can’t think of a moment more anxiety triggering than when all eyes are on you as you open a present which you may have to pretend to be grateful for. I will often choose to go for a meal with close family to celebrate my birthday – my parents have learnt to not ask the waiter to bring out a birthday cake whilst the whole restaurant sings a chorus of, ‘happy birthday’ and I sit, smiling awkwardly, wishing the ground would swallow me up. My birthday falls the day after bonfire night. This gives me a, ‘get out of jail free’ card. If I attend a bonfire as my birthday celebration then it takes the attention from me and moves it onto the fireworks. I do find them bright and I do not like the sound of their explosions but, it is the lesser of two evils.

Whilst I enjoy attending birthday parties for other people, the thought of having one of my own isn’t appealing. At my birthday parties’ when I was a child I believe I used to spend the entire party with my best friend Lauren, or my cousins, ignoring others my age who had been invited. This behaviour meant I was rarely invited to other children’s birthday parties. Although, this sometimes made me feel left out – particularly as I got older – it did mean I didn’t have to pretend to be enjoying myself at a party full of screaming children or spend the night at a sleepover in a strange smelling house.

I recently held a party for my 21st birthday. It was organised on my terms. I decided, as I love to dance, I would hold my own party meaning I could play my own music. I was able to enjoy the night dancing in an environment with no flashing lights and music tuned to a comfortable volume. I was able to dance, (hide myself) on the dance floor without others realising I was avoiding socialising; to them, I was purely enjoying myself. It was turned into more of a family get-together with a few of my friends than it was about celebrating my birthday, this removed any pressure and I did enjoy my evening.



I HATE CHRISTMAS! I am a Grinch.

Christmas, to me, is very over-the-top. It is loud, it is bright and there is always far too much of, ‘seeing people’ involved. When I was young, every year in the month of December, I would develop a rash all over my body. Year after year Doctor’s failed to diagnose a cause. After speaking to the Autism specialist who diagnosed my ASD it was suggested the rash was possibly my body reacting to the anxiety which Christmas causes me. As a child I couldn’t handle Christmas and so my body physically reacted by covering me in a rash as if I were allergic. I have not been covered in this rash the past four or five years as I have now learnt my limits and do not feel as pressured to try to fit-in and force myself to enjoy the holiday. I will celebrate, but within my own capabilities. I will spend time with my family but will take myself off for some quiet time or an early night if I feel it is becoming too much. I will not attend any work Christmas parties or other celebratory holiday themed events which I know will cause me grief. If people call me a scrooge I will shrug it off and remind myself that they do not understand how the baubles hurt my eyes and the Christmas songs, my head.



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