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"Our Christmas doesn't look like yours..." (of glass houses and being SEEN)

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

How do you begin to try to explain? 

They mean well. Honestly, they really do.

They want to wish you a happy Christmas and they want your child to enjoy the wonder and magic of it all

…just like in the movies and on the billboards, and to some degree…like the Christmas they will actually have with their children.


This is one of the hardest parts of navigating what it means to parent a child with ANY level of neurodevelopmental, anxiety, emotional, learning, or physical challenge:   the longing to be truly SEEN.


But you see, they won’t be able to “see” what your world is really like or know how to be the support that you would love to be there for you because of the very simple fact that they just haven’t “walked in your shoes.”


They won’t know how hard it is to prepare your child for the day at school when the schedule is turned upside down because of the Christmas play or the special assembly. 

They won’t know that when the decorations go up, that can be enough to unsettle your child’s world for weeks. 

They won’t know what it’s like trying to explain why your child won’t eat any of their Christmas dinner to your mother who worked so hard to make the perfect turkey.


They won’t know why a Christmas sweater choice, or the “wrong” gift becomes a meltdown. 

Or even why it seems your anxious, hyperactive, or distracted child dials up 10 notches until the final days of their school holiday when they finally begin to unwind.

If you know…you know.

They won’t know why this “magical” change of season has a whole set of problems that families who don’t have these challenges will never face and will never know.


So, what do you do? 

Wish it on them? 

Isolate yourself? 

Let resentment and jealousy begin to grow like a terrible seed in your life?

Of course not.  This is not our story. 

Parents with these children, we have another “magic.”  


We have the opportunity and gift of what it means to try to “see” our child.  

In as much as we don’t feel seen as parents in this season…our children need US to “see” THEM.  

One of the memories when I was a young mother that brought me the greatest ache was a moment near Christmas. 

It was right at the point of raising my two treasured children who were presenting with a myriad of difficulties that were overshadowing what should have been a carefree childhood, but that instead (particularly at that moment) felt like a childhood full of trips to the doctor and therapy and forms to fill out, teachers who didn’t understand and explanations to be made…and it was Christmas.

A well-meaning parent had just stopped me while I was trying to get groceries and children out of the car and up a flight of stairs into our flat, to give me a mini-lecture on how I should be raising my children.


I left that conversation full of what I can only describe as rage-filled-exasperation and ran to my two, scooped them up, held back burning tears, hugged them as closely as I could and determined to SEE them as deeply and fully as I could with my only human eyes. 

I was brave in that moment.

But that night, when my husband came home, the dam broke. Of course it was more than just the children and the events of that day. It was ALL the stress that was going on in our lives at that time, but I sobbed my way through the story of the day to him and then exclaimed in a way that has stayed as a lasting memory of that era, “I want a glass house! Please please make us a glass house so everyone can see! So everyone will know what our children are facing and what we are facing and how much harder it is than they know.” 

And I’ve never forgotten that feeling or that night or the longing for a glass house

…the longing to be truly seen.  

This Christmas your friends and family, will likely not be able to “see” you or fully understand the road you and your child are walking. 


But, there are those of us who have walked a similar road.

If you can, find those people who understand what it feels like to want to live in a “glass house” and who know the value of seeing others in their situation and in being "seen."


There are support groups online, in churches, and in community groups that will likely welcome you with open arms if you are feeling unseen this Christmas.

I eventually found other people who DID understand and who DID see me, and I found that they were the parents of other children who were struggling with similar challenges.  If you haven’t found these people, may this be an encouragement to you to reach out to find them. 

They need you too. 


Map & Compass was established for children and parents who deserve to be seen and understood. 

As a gift to you this Christmas and New Year, I am offering 20% off initial consultations from now until the 14th of January as a way of inviting you to consider  INPP (neurodevelopmental/reflex integration therapy) and Johansen Individualised Auditory Stimulation (sound therapy).  


Just enter the code  Gift20  at the checkout when you book an Initial Consultation with Map & Compass.


If you’ve got questions or want to find out more, please feel free to book in for a Free 30-minute enquiry call or submit our Children’s Screening Questionnaire to see if the programmes of treatment offered at Map & Compass are the right fit for your child. 


May you and your family be met with HOPE this Christmas season...

and may you feel so very "seen,"


Tori Sheppard


Neurodevelopmental Therapist

Map & Compass

December 2023



Specialist in identifying and treating physical factors underlying specific learning difficulties, achievement and emotional/behavioural concerns that present

in neuro-developmental issues such as Dyslexia,

Dyspraxia/DCD, Autism, ADHD, Auditory Processing,

Speech and Language, and Sensory challenges.

Setting a course towards HOPE


113 views1 comment

1 Comment

Unknown member
Dec 13, 2023

So helpful! And to those waiting to be seen... Map and Compass is the way!

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