How many times have you heard it said that autistic children struggle in social settings, struggle with relationships, even struggle with family…

While that’s most certainly the case for some of us – as it is for any person - today’s video shows it’s by no means black and white.

On day four of #myKINDofchristmas we asked some children and young people what Christmas means to them – and you’ll be touched by their replies.

Sifting through the comments we received for Day Four – and from the video you will see today – it was clear that enormous amount of value is placed on family and time together.

What’s even more interesting is that for some families, who’ve often struggled to know how to support their loved ones at Christmas, it wasn’t clear that their young or grown up children felt this way.

Hiding behind what is traditionally known as ‘challenging behaviour’, while rooted in a myriad of possible reasons, could actually be a child so overwhelmed by happiness and joy that their bodies and emotional responses go into overdrive.

It’s also important to note that not all the children we know and work with are verbal – or able to communicate to a wider audience in a way that would be understood easily in a short video clip (often it takes really getting to an individual person well, to understand their personal form of communication), so this is just a sample of our amazingly diverse community.

In each of our North East Autism Society schools, in our college and in our day services for adults, we see a wide range of different forms of communication. All valid and all worth listening to.

Which is why we are so passionate about pioneering even more youth groups across the region. Giving young autistic people an environment where they can express themselves, have their voices heard and their unique perspectives validated is crucially important for confidence, self-esteem and to make our wider world a happier, healthier, kinder place.

We also wanted to take a moment today to celebrate parents, carers, supporters, family members and friends of those of us who are autistic.

Look at how happy you make your children!

Even in this crazy, possession-filled landscape of Christmas, without fail, our children wanted to let you know they wanted nothing more than time with family around meals and relaxation.

So if you are worrying about what kind of Christmas you have ahead, we hope these tools and tips will help as the month goes on, but for today – take a moment to rest in the fact the greatest gift you can give your families this Christmas is YOU.