So we all know the real Father Christmas only comes on Christmas Eve but we had a ‘sort of’ Father Christmas and his helper come to our school in Wingrave on the last day of term. The ‘sort of’ Father Christmas and his helper were suitably dressed in red and white suits (of course) with fur hats and black boots. Well they wanted to look the part at least.
The room was prepared with appropriate props and music and looked every inch the grotto you would expect.
Some of our wonderful students absolutely adore the Christmas festivities but for others it can be a difficult time. The shops look, feel and sound different. Normal routines are disrupted. People dress differently. In fact the whole world can seem a very different place at Christmas time.
We prepared the students as appropriate, some needed a social story to explain that of course the true and real Father Christmas would not be in school, it would in fact be Brad and Kate dressed up! For others, if they didn’t feel able to go into the room, Brad and Kate could go to them. If the music was too loud it could be turned down or off, if it was too quiet it could be turned up! There were no ‘rules’ on the ‘sort of’ Father Christmas event. We could sit down, we could stand up, we could dance about, we could do whatever the students liked (within reason of course)!
So Brad and Kate dressed up and waited in the hall, not quite sure what to expect. Jess was on hand with the camera. Classes were scheduled to come in at particular times to avoid overcrowding, over stimulation and too much waiting.
How wonderful the morning was! Jake came in and exclaimed ‘It’s Brad and Kate!’ and promptly offered hugs all round. A lovely tactile moment on the sofa for us all. Jake’s gift was a lego set, he put his arms up in the air with delight and wanted to show everyone his lovely gift.
Joshua came to the door but couldn’t quite make it over the threshold. He sat down in the doorway with the door propped open. Kate sat on the floor with him, they had a lovely intensive interaction and then Joshua was given his gift of his favourite chocolates.
Abigail came in and absolutely shrieked with delight and practically sat on Brad’s lap with excitement. She wanted to stroke the nylon beard and touch the plastic belt, a lovely sensory experience.
Jonathan came running in, stopped still in his tracks and promptly sat on the floor, Brad of course sat on the floor with him.
Tamara came in and paced around, Kate paced around with her.
James didn’t want to come into the ‘grotto’ and didn’t much like the outfits, so the hats and beards came off and Brad and Kate gave him his gift (a sensory toy) in his classroom.
I think you see where this is going… When it was necessary we stood back, we sat with, we stood with, we hugged with, we were quiet with, we were noisy and dancing with…. whatever it took we were WITH the students. Every single student in our school received a gift from the ‘sort of’ Santa and it was given in a person centred, individualised way in order that every student could engage in the experience.
Santa comes to school!
It was a fantastic morning and ALL of us, staff and students had a really enjoyable time together. We took turns, we waited, we had a different routine, we had different and unusual sensory experiences, we laughed, we danced but most important of all, we all felt safe and happy.
Class 5 Teacher
Senior Learning Support Assistant/Intensive Interaction Mentor
MacIntyre School Wingrave