Christmas, the COVID-19 Vaccine & Autism

The week leading up to Christmas Day is my favourite time in the entire year.

Yes, it’s hectic with the decorating, shopping, wrapping, and cleaning but the excitement in a house when children are waiting for Santa is magical.

We started our Christmas week in a very unusual way this year but it was truly the best Christmas gift we could have ever received.

Tyson got his COVID-19 vaccine.

For many families, the approval of the vaccine for the 5-11 year old group was cause for celebration.

But the amazing part was not getting the appointment but the fact that this wonderful nurse was able to administer the vaccine.

Every fall both my kids receive their flu vaccine and up until this year, there has never been an issue.

Well …. If I am being honest there are always issues, but nothing we can not handle.  

There was the year we thought going to the very large and crowded Paradise Youth and Community Center to receive the vaccine was a good idea. And there was the year Tyson pulled the needle out before the nurse finished administering the flu shot.

But we got through it and more importantly, Tyson seemed fine. 

Merry & Bright, MUN Botancial Gardens

I’m not sure if the trauma of going to the Janeway Children’s Hospital and needing staples after splitting open his knee this summer has made him super sensitive to any medical person getting within 6 feet of him but when we got Tyson’s annual flu shot in October, things did not go well.

And by not well, I would rather give up junk food for life than have to go through that again.

I am going to spare you the details but it completely traumatized Mark, left me feeling defeated, and who knows what it did to poor Tyson.

For some reason, whenever something goes wrong (with Tyson) I always blame myself! 

Why did I not anticipate that Tyson would react this way?

When we saw that Tyson was getting upset, why did we not just go home?

Why is “what I should do …” only come to me after it’s over?

In hindsight, we should have left the flu clinic before Tyson became completely hysterical in anticipation that he would need to get his COVID-19 vaccine just a couple of months later.

When Mark and I got in the vehicle the first thought that crossed both our minds was, how in the name of god was Tyson ever going to be able to receive his COVID-19 vaccine??

We can’t enter a building and wait in a lineup for hours (who I am kidding, we can’t wait ‘minutes’).

We can’t keep Tyson 6 feet away from those around him while we wait in these lineups. 

And then there was the part of actually administering the shot because all three of us didn’t want to go through what we went through with the flu vaccine.

Lucky the vaccine clinic at Mundy Pond had procedures in place for families like ours which included waiting in our vehicle until the nurse was ready, and a private room to administer the vaccine.

And that was the start of our Christmas week which was a blessing in itself. 

Christmas Eve in Bowring Park

We also took in lots of Christmassy activities like going to Merry & Bright at MUN’s Botanical Gardens and had our annual walk in Bowring Park on Christmas Eve.

And we managed to see the movie Sing 2 in the theatre before everything shut down. (Tyson had been asking to see this movie since mid September.)

The days leading up to Christmas were magical. 

Tyson’s anticipation for Christmas this year was contagious. 

His excitement and joy were like a fog, it just engulfed everyone around him and one could not help feel the Christmas spirit. 

It was especially nice to see Lincoln taking in his brother’s happiness. He would talk to Tyson about Santa and presents and how many more sleeps there were. It was beyond sweet.

Christmas morning

And this was by far Tyson’s best Christmas.

He opened all his presents on Christmas morning which has never happened before and he seemed happy with the gifts he received.

He understood that not all the gifts were for him and didn’t rip open every present in sight, even though his desire to do so was intense. And he willingly handed out family members their presents, even though his presentation was similar to what one would expect from the Tasmanian devil.

Overall, he was happy, enjoying Christmas as any child would.

In the scheme of things though it was a very different Christmas. We only saw immediate family and we did not get together with friends, trying our best to keep our contacts low. 

Then New Year’s Eve came and we broke our own rules of consistent bedtime and let Tyson stay up until the midnight countdown.

And then things kind of went to shit after that (excuse my language).

It took several days to get Tyson sleeping again. One night at 3:30 am he was still awake. Sleep issues are the WORST!

On January 2nd Tyson declared Christmas was over and wanted all the decorations removed. 

Using his communication iPad he said ‘down down Christmas’.

Me, being hopeful and not wanting to let Christmas go quite yet, as the COVID-19 case numbers started to soar in our province, thought maybe we misunderstood his message.

As Mark and I discussed exactly what down down Christmas meant, Tyson then said ‘Christmas over’, directed me to the Christmas tree, hauled off an ornament, and handed it to me.

Tyson telling us ‘Christmas over’

It was official.

Christmas was over – at least in our house. 

And things have sort of been off the rails since.

Tyson was excited to go back to school and this may have been some of the motivation for wanting the Christmas decorations put away. I am guessing he was thinking once Christmas was over, school returns.  

However, school reverted to online learning due to the pandemic just as it did in every other province. Tyson was not excited about online learning.

Online Learning Day 1

With the change in routine came numerous interesting and challenging behaviours, reminding me of Lincoln’s terrible twos stage.

He started doing naughty things to get attention: putting goldfish in Mark’s water, throwing the dog’s toys behind the TV so she could not play with them, taking Lincoln’s hat, and running away with it.

He was also in a foul mood, waking up each morning cranky, screaming and lashing out at all of us throughout the day.

We are now in our 3rd week of January and he still hasn’t settled.

The lack of routine during Christmas, compounded with the changes in school, has had a major effect on him.

Tyson is now back in school but school is not the same as it was before Christmas, as most kids are learning virtually at home.

Tyson doesn’t like change. He likes things to be the same.

The school looks different with so few students and staff, it sounds different and his day to day routine is different.

I don’t know if he misses his classmates or just the routine of seeing them, I am hoping the former.

Building a Fort.

This week is starting out as a better week.

We are taking it day by day.

Every day can’t be magical.

And every day isn’t filled with challenges either.

But we take them all as they come.

Santa Claus Parade in St Bride’s

Breakfast with Santa. Cutting down a Christmas tree. Our first movie as a family since Tyson was a toddler. The Santa Claus Parade in St Bride’s.

These are the kind of lists I love.

Small steps. Progress.

The sum of which equals to a wonderful Christmas.

PS January – I won’t be sad to see you go!

Published by Amanda

My name is Amanda - welcome to my personal blog. I have been married for 15 years to my husband, Mark and together we have two lovely boys - Lincoln and Tyson. This blog is an expression of my thoughts, feelings, and everyday adventures raising a child on the spectrum. It is my hope that it will give others a glimpse into the life of an autism mom.

3 thoughts on “Christmas, the COVID-19 Vaccine & Autism

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