Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘child

Wordless Wednesday 11 Jul 12

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

July 11, 2012 at 5:58 am

Rage Against the Latrine

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Okay, this post is not going to be for the more delicate amongst you.  I will completely absolve you if you skip this one.  I’m talking about potty-training, and truth be told,  I’d like to skip the whole ordeal too, but it seems to be part and parcel of parenting.

And you know this isn’t the first time I’ve sunk so low: try googling “pretzel potty” and see whose blog is the number one hit.  Yes, I make my family so proud!

So, not to be too specific, earlier this week Cubby did something on the potty that he had never done before.  Full disclosure, he did something on the floor near the potty, but it was close enough, and we celebrated, cleaned up, and celebrated some more.

Unlike his big sister, who is queen of positive reinforcement and seemed to potty train herself, Cubby is much more reluctant.  We were therefore delighted to take this next step.  Cubby likes himself some social praise, so I set to telling his teacher, our neighbors, grandparents on Skype etc.  If our paths haven’t crossed in the last week, be glad.  Be very glad.

So yesterday, he tells me he wants to go again.  Yay!  I tell him we have to upstairs to get him on the potty, because <you-know-what> goes in the potty.

No, Mummy, I don’t think that’s right.”

I think my head did that cartoon-swivel thing.  “<You-know-what> goes in the potty, not in your pants,” has been part of our echolaic background brainwashing since before he was born.  Pudding has said it approximately 17 times a day for the last three years.  She lives by that mantra.  He grew up to that soundtrack and adopted it for his own (in word, though not in deed).  It was even one of his first sentences!

There were many ways to handle this, and of course I chose the absolute worst- trying to outsmart him.

Me: Oh yeah, so where does it go then?

Cubby: In the diaper……that’s what they’re for, Mummy.

Wow.  Yes.  Now the big question is, how am I ever going to come up with a strategy for a kid who is already smarter than me?  I need help, if I’m ever to get him from can’t to the can.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 8, 2012 at 11:03 am

Negotiating Sleep

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You know how I recently said that I’m not a warrior mama?  Perhaps I just wasn’t a good one.  I’ve spent the last three years battling a lack of sleep, and losing every time.  Regular readers know that Pudding, like many children with autism and/or ADHD, has trouble sleeping through the night.  Or going to sleep by herself.  Or staying asleep beyond 5am.

I like my sleep.  Some would say that I’m a better person when I get it, but only those who have met me. With sleep I have energy and confidence, patience and determination.  All the things that might make you a good fighter, if that was what you chose to be.  Without it?  Let’s just say every day could be a battle, and nightfall brought no respite.

If there was a method, or tactic, or intervention that claimed to help with sleep, we tried it.  Dietary, sensory, homeopathic, behavioural, pharmaceutical…nothing worked.

Gradually- and this may have come around sooner if I’d had enough sleep to ever think straight- I realized we needed to stop fighting.  For the last few months, we went with a plan that looked a lot like surrender.

When Pudding woke up in the night, she would come in our room, Daddy would vacate the bed, and she would crawl in beside me.  Or one of us would lead her back to her room.  She wouldn’t go back to sleep unless we were also there with her, and when she woke again, she would repeat the same process.  If we didn’t, lets just say we’d be dealing with four people who were awake all night.

It was still a fight though.  A fight to reassure her before her crying and screaming woke up her brother.  A fight to rouse myself before Spectrummy Daddy took another night duty before having to go to work the next day.  A fight to keep going the next day after endless nights of disturbed sleep.  A fight to keep trying to find the magic trick, the cure-all, the answer to our years of insomnia.

A couple of nights ago, I decided to offer a compromise.  I asked Spectrummy Daddy to bring in the mattress from Pudding’s old bed, and we made her a little bed on the floor next to ours.  We’d unsuccessfully tried this before, but this time I explained that if she needed us in the night she could just come and get in the bed next to us.  We wouldn’t make her leave if she didn’t disturb us, or wake up her brother.  A negotiation.

And it works!  I found her there this morning, and I hadn’t heard her come in during the night.  Sure, one day, I’d like her to be able to sleep in her own bed, but right now she is too anxious, and she can’t conquer that enemy by herself yet.  After years of fighting a losing battle, this negotiation feels like a win.  And for once there are no casualties.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

The Next Chapter

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After our first trip to Pudding’s new school, we looked through the book her teacher had made, and talked about them a little.  We were going to return on Monday, so this time I learned from my mistakes.  I was more specific about what would happen.  Instead of going to see the new school, teachers, playground and friends, I told her we would be going back to play on the playground at the new school with the new friends, and her teachers would be there too.

I don’t think it was just the choice of words, but at least she knew what was expected of her this time.  While everything is still new, it wasn’t so overwhelming this time.  Instead of parking in the huge car park and walking through the rest of the campus, I parked around the back, so we only had to walk around the elementary part of the school.

Pudding showed none of her reticence this time.  She skipped up to her teacher when she saw her, and took her hand to accompany her to meet some of the children in the classroom.  Cubby, recovering from illness, had come along too, so he and I busied ourselves on the playground.

It was some time before they returned.  Pudding had been playing.  She’d immediately taken up with another little girl in pink, and told her that they matched!  She ran out with a few other children and they all piled on to the playground.

I caught her teacher’s eye, who smiled back.  After the other children left, Pudding moved on to drawing, then we went for a look around her new classroom.  Pudding discovered another place to draw, and in no time at all had made herself quite at home.  I wasn’t sure she was going to want to leave.

She’s going to be fine,” said her teacher, and I honestly think that she will.

I think we all will.  She belongs here, with teachers who see a child’s strengths as well as weaknesses.  And who know that calming a parent goes a long way to easing anxiety in children.  We’ll be coming again next week for a final familiarization session.  This time we’re both looking forward to it, and the start of the next chapter in Pudding’s education.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 24, 2012 at 11:26 am

Wordless Wednesday 16 May 12

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We’re over the biggest hurdle- actually getting her on the balance bike!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

The Empathy Strikes Back (at Hopeful Parents)

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This post was published today here at Hopeful Parents, but the site is taking so long to load that I’m posting it here as well.

I spend a lot of time teaching Pudding skills that I hope will prove useful to her in the future.  Sometimes I teach her things that are also useful to me right now.  Earlier this year she learned how to make her own bed.  It is great that my girl at 5 is managing something my mother couldn’t get me to do at 15, and most days I take more than a little pride in her achievements.

There is a downside, of course, waiting to bite.  Some days we’re running late, but Pudding insists on making her bed before leaving the house.  As I wait with the utmost impatience, I’m reminded of the old adage, be careful what you wish for.

Now the solution would be to organize ourselves better so that the bed-making was taken care of long before we need to set off.  But being organized isn’t my strong suit.  I blame my mother- she didn’t even teach me to make my own bed until my late teens, my lack of organizational skills is entirely her fault!  Just kidding (Mum!) and in truth, who cares about being a few minutes late for school when such essential learning is taking place right at home.  Not just domestic chores, but time-management and planning.

Then there are other things that I haven’t taught Pudding.  Some things I’m not sure how to teach, or I’m not sure if they should be taught.  I walk a line between deciding if something is a necessary skill, or if it would be trying to force neurotypical ways on an autistic brain.  I read accounts by Autistic adults, but my ultimate gauge is my relationship with Pudding.  I imagine having conversations with her in a decade or two, in which I justify my actions.

I have no qualms about teaching her to make a bed.  She’ll thank me one day (thank you, Mum).  But what if my efforts were to go too far?  What if she felt forced into acting in a way that isn’t her, and doesn’t make sense to her?  Some things aren’t black and white skills, but a whole murky grey area.  A sense of what is appropriate may differ vastly from person to person.

For a long time, if I was sick, in pain, or crying with sadness, Pudding did not seem to show empathy.  I’m not saying she didn’t feel empathy, just that she wasn’t expressing it in the way I expected.  But expressing empathy in my (neurotypical) way, was not something I felt I should teach.

Perhaps as she got older, I’d tell that people expect others to behave in certain ways, but only at the point I felt I could do that without Pudding feeling judged or wrong for expressing herself differently.  I can tell from the awkwardness of that sentence that I’d struggle with that no matter how I tried.

Fortunately, for me, Pudding has lately begun to express empathy in a very typical way.  Last week when I mentioned I had a headache, Pudding got out of her chair, crawled into my lap, kissed my forehead twice and told me she was making it better.

Would you believe me if I told you it worked?  And it took less time than the tablets I’d already taken too!

I didn’t have to wait too long for this latest development to strike back.  That same evening as I tried to get her to go to sleep, Pudding tossed and turned and eventually got out of bed.  When I asked what was wrong, she let me know that her doll was too hot, and therefore she had to take off her pyjamas and replace them with a nightgown, which took her some time to find.

I felt my headache creeping back the more empathy she expressed regarding Kelly doll, empathy looking a lot like a tactic to delay going to bed.

Of course, sleeping by herself is another skill we haven’t yet figured out.  If that one were to bite back too, I wouldn’t notice…I’d be too busy catching up on all those sleepless nights in a galaxy far, far away.

http://www.hopefulparents.org/blog/2012/3/18/the-empathy-strikes-back.html

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 19, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Wordless Wednesday 04 Jan 12

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Pudding declares she is going to help Mummy to clean.

But cleaning isn't as much fun as she thought.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

January 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm