Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘flexibility

Okay at the Panera cafe

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On Wednesday Spectrummy Daddy came home from work an hour early so he’d have time to pack before going away.  We’d been to Pudding’s occupational therapy session, so we picked him up from the metro station on our way back.  I hadn’t made anything for dinner, so we made a spur of the moment plan to go out for dinner.  Does that last sentence fill you with dread?  Many kids don’t do well with spur of the moment decisions, but as long as it is something she wants to do, Pudding is very amenable.

Yes, she wanted to go out for dinner.  I gave her the option of the two closest places: Panera* or a diner.  She opted for Panera, or as she calls it- Panera cafe. I think it reminds her of when we were living in Europe and enjoying the cafe-culture.  When we first moved back to the US, we would go to Panera about once a week.  Her former OT, Miss M., worked at a pediatric practice housed in the same building, so we’d always have lunch together there afterwards.  She would always get a sandwich with yoghurt, before we knew that Pudding was allergic to wheat and dairy.  As you can imagine, a bakery is not the best option for someone with a gluten intolerance, so we stopped going.  She kept asking to go there, so I emailed them and they replied that the black bean soup was safe for her.  With some explanation that we  could only eat there if she ate that soup and an apple (plus gluten-free bread from home), we have been able to return a couple of times.

We find a table and get settled in.  Spectrummy Daddy and Pudding went to place the order, but he quickly returned with a grim look on his face.  No black bean soup today.  By his delivery and my sharp intake of breath you’d have been forgiven for thinking he’d made a much more grave discovery.  Our girl who likes those spur of the moment decisions when she gets something she wants, really does not like them when something she wants is taken from her.  She also has no qualms about letting the public in on her feelings.  I braced myself to tell her the news.

Me- Honey, they don’t have your soup here today.  We need to leave to go to the diner.

Pudding- Don’t want to go to the diner.  Want to stay at Panera cafe.

Me- I know, but they don’t have soup for you to eat.

Pudding- Want to eat a sandwich.

Me- You can’t eat a sandwich here, Mummy didn’t bring the bread you can eat.  Let’s go to the diner, and you can eat there and have…(I racked my brains for some kind of treat)….a juice.  Is that okay?

I know, juice.  Not exactly inspired.  Offering something she could just as easily have there is not the greatest of incentives.  But I was out of ideas.  My bag was empty of treats to bribe her, and I couldn’t think of anything else on their menu she’d want that she wasn’t allergic to.  So you can imagine my surprise when she replied:

That okay.

And just like that, we left.  With no meltdown, no fuss, no drama, no whining.  We’re making steps here, this wouldn’t have happened six months ago.  We ate at the diner and hugged Daddy before he left, eventually went to sleep, and slept through the night.  How was that?  That okay.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 11, 2010 at 7:44 am

Bend, but don’t break

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I’ve been writing recently about little bits of progress here and there that Pudding has been making.  I’m not entirely sure why this is happening, just natural development, or because of different therapies and accommodations we’re trying.  For instance, with Pudding’s allergies, she is by default eating a gluten-free, casein-free diet, which may (or may not) be helpful for those with autism spectrum disorders.  We finally found speech and occupational therapists who accept our health insurance, so she is back to having regular sessions.  She just completed her third round of a home-based program to help with her auditory processing.  Finally, she has been out of school, and spending more time playing with her brother and I.

At the same time, though, we have seen some regression in certain areas.  Relative to her diagnosis, Pudding has generally been quite flexible, but that has changed recently.  We even abandoned visual schedules (helpful for most ASD children) because she just didn’t seem to require a set routine, and was okay about not knowing what was coming next.  It seems though, without intending too, we’d established a couple of routines.  And once those routines were established, Pudding didn’t want to let go of them.  At the mall, we’d go window-shopping, visit the play area, then go get something to eat.  On Friday night when we we headed straight to the restaurant instead, we ended up dining with a very miserable Pudding.  We went to the play area afterwards, and equilibrium was restored, but getting through the meal was much tougher than usual.

Also this weekend when she rode the carousel at her favourite playground, she didn’t get to ride the horse she specifically wanted, and sobbed the whole way round.

Somehow, she has determined that I’m the only person allowed to put her to bed, and mandates every night that Daddy will put Cubby to bed so that this remains the case.  She also has to wear a princess nightgown, and a full-blown meltdown will ensue if she can’t find one.  We go along with it, because bedtimes are a battle, and we’re weary of the fight.  The happier she is upon getting into bed, the sooner she’ll go to sleep.

None of these instances are especially bad.  In fact, some of you are probably reading this and wondering what I’m making a fuss about, that we have it so easy  by comparison.  We do, of course.  Yet once we had a little girl who just would get excited about things happening in the moment.  I miss that.  She loved flying, so she was excited to go on a plane.  She loved children, so she was happy to be around them.  Increasingly I’m seeing more conditions being set, and order established to how events should occur.  She is losing her flexibility.  This scares me, not only because social interactions demand a certain amount of give and take, but also because we will be moving next year.  Moving to a different country is going to require that she bends a great deal without breaking.  We have to move, but now I’m concerned that she isn’t going to be resilient enough.

Developmentally, a lot can happen in a year.  I know that two years ago I’d never have believed you if you’d said she had autism, or that she would be rigid or inflexible.  There never seemed a child better suited to the Foreign Service lifestyle than Pudding, who loved the excitement of new places.  Now I’m less certain.  I don’t yet know where we’ll be living this time next year, but we might have a way to go before we get there.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 30, 2010 at 7:21 am