Only four sleeps to go until Christmas day and so we are turning our attention to some of our North East Autism Society staff.


With schools, employment services, toddler groups, parent support workshops, short breaks, central services and residential accommodation for children and adults, one thing is clear – not everyone will be having a complete rest at Christmas.


One such person is Julie Dunlop – one of the managers from our children’s residential homes.


While she will have time with her own family at home, Julie and her team will also be ensuring that the children in their care will have an amazing festive time in their ‘home from home.’


Julie – what’s your kind of Christmas? Any favourite memories?


“My best ever Christmas was  the first time my first born understood what Christmas is all about. I also love following my mam’s tradition which not being allowed downstairs ‘til mam and dad had checked if Santa had been.


“We would sit excitedly at the top of stairs for to go into the living room to check, then come to the bottom of the stairs and say, " I THINK SANTA HAS BEEN - COME AND SEE!”

 “I still do it now with my daughters at the age of 15 and 21. You’ve got to love family tradition!”


Do you have any Christmas memories that stand out, related to your work with the North East Autism Society?


“The one that springs to mind right away was the first time I offered to do the entire Christmas shop for the family of a young person I worked with.


“I was his key worker and I knew it would relieve some of the pressure on the family. I did it all – the whole shop and fully wrapped everything. It took all the pressure away from the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings. They were so grateful. I actually did this for the next few years. This is what I love about making a difference - not just to our young people but to the families who are just as important.”


Julie in your experience what can help make Christmas happier, healthier and easier for an autistic person?


“Putting in place – doing whatever you can - whatever that may be  - so that each person and their family can have the quality time together that they all can cope with.  No matter faith or distance – if you think creatively there is always a solution.”