Elliot is 24 years old, has autism and has been supported by KIDS through various services for over 15 years. Elliot's dad Lindsay, who is also a KIDS Trustee Board member, why predictable presents are important to Elliot and recalls a Christmas involving a metal detector!

The joy of surprises is a key part of most people’s Christmas. However, my 24 year old son Elliot has autism. He likes predictability he likes to be kept busy, he likes the Chuckle Brothers and he does not like surprises. He likes presents – well he likes getting things he wants but not things he did not expect. He does not share the delight other people have in just giving and receiving. He produces a list to make sure and, in case we make a tragic mistake, it comes with Argos catalogue numbers, or now Amazon codes.

The Christmas with the metal detector 

Being autistic does not mean he cannot be devious. When he was five or so we had to lock the kitchen door because he got up at 5am and wandered around taking knives out of drawers etc. At first, we put the key above the door but he learnt to climb up, so we hid it in our bedroom.  The next Christmas we were surprised and bemused when on his list appeared a metal detector. We found him on Christmas day scanning our bedroom until he found the key!

So much of what we do as parents at this festive time of the year is to meet our children’s inflated expectations (if we can) .So having one child like that and yet his twin with so few expectations can appear a relief. But with this comes some real worries from someone who desperately wants Christmas to be like any other day – just his routine.

While parenting is always a challenge, and with a disabled child a further life shaping challenge, this is not a story of endless despair. Elliot is a joy as well as a challenge. Elliot feels he is a success.

The gift of success and achievement 

With the support of people at KIDS over the last 15 years, at first in their Adventure Playground and more recently at their Youth Club, he has developed, gained confidence and life skills. By his own choice he is loving the struggle studying Maths GCSE at college. He has a permanent part time job in the kitchen at Premier Inn. His colleagues and management are fantastic. So being a little obsessive about cleanliness and order can be a real advantage. He probably won’t be a great chef or the managing director one day but just the best washer up in the world - that suits him fine.

So many more autistic young people can be, not just a focus of sympathy at Christmas, but the source of the wonder of achievement. KIDS helps that happen – a real present not just for Elliot and not just for Christmas but all year round.