Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘imaginary friend

Too late

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We were at a 4th birthday party on Sunday, and we had a great time.  It was a big party, with lots of guests, and had to be moved indoors at the last minute due to inclement weather.  So, too many people and no place to escape.   Usually a recipe for disaster for my girl, but for the most part she behaved very well.  It wasn’t the time to force social interaction with strangers, so I didn’t.  And there were so many kids there that I don’t think anyone but me noticed she only played by herself, and she perseverated on putting a figure in the fire truck.  And I tried very hard not to notice, because I wanted time off too.

It was nice, so what if she wasn’t fully engaged?  She interacted with anyone who tried to get her attention, and I tried not to care that the other kids didn’t try.  After all, they all knew each other from day care, she was the stranger.  She is happy playing by herself, and I’m grateful for this.  For the fact that she hasn’t yet noticed she gets left out, that she is always the odd one out.  We could sit back and chat with friends.  There was so little drama that we stayed a while, perhaps too long.

We knew it was time to go when Bashful was mentioned.  As previously mentioned, he is our ten minute warning to get out of a situation that has become unbearable for Pudding.  So here is what you don’t do when you realize your spectrummy child has had enough.  You don’t, at that point, try to get her to wish happy birthday to the boy she has ignored all afternoon, because you hadn’t facilitated a conversation between the pair.  You see at that point, she is beyond social pleasantries, and is entirely unconcerned with how he might feel.  It is far too late.  And you know, if you’d done it earlier, she’d have happily complied.  She loves her little friend A, and would only want to please him, especially on his birthday.

So when we tried this, and she repeatedly refused, we had to stop trying.  Pushing her would have only led to a meltdown, and the end result would not have changed.  It is a reminder, that no matter how comfortable the situation, there is no time off, no shirking on the duties.  To do so leaves a little boy feeling that his friend was mean to him on his birthday, when she’d been so excited to see him.  And when friends are a scarce commodity, we can’t afford to lose them.  Those social conventions, so unnatural for my girl, are even more essential.  She has to learn to do them, and we have to teach her.

Today, two days after the party, Pudding was singing Happy Birthday to A.  Until she can navigate the social world without our assistance, there is no time off for us.   First we have to make it happen, and then we can relax.

If left to do it by herself, it will be too late.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 18, 2010 at 5:05 am

Bashful

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Bashful

Bashful is back.  I don’t know if he just came for the evening, or if he is planning on staying for a while.  Yes, Bashful of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fame.  He is a presence in our household.  He is sort of like Pudding’s imaginary friend.  When we went to Disney last year, we bought some Snow White little toy figurines.  We’d shipped them off to Bolivia as a surprise for when we arrived, but when they got returned to us, we just gave them to her while we unpacked.  Immediately, and without ever seeing the movie, she decided Bashful was her favourite.  Pudding would carry him around like a protective talisman.  Then one day she lost the figurine, but that didn’t change her attachment.

If I were a psychologist, I might delve into the Asperger child forming a connection with the socially awkward one, but I’m not.  I also won’t try to figure out why my blonde blue-eyed princess favours Sleeping Beauty, who also likes to sing and is dangerously attracted to spinning things.  I’m yet to read ‘The Princess and the Pea’ to her, which is a tale of sensory integration dysfunction if ever I heard one, but I’m sure she’d relate to her too.

Pudding loves art, but she has fine motor skill problems, and often the end result doesn’t appear like she wants it to in her mind.  She decided her favourite dwarf needed to be honoured in picture form.  Every time she drew Bashful, he wasn’t quite right, and she scribbled him out in anger.  Soon I was called on to capture his likeness, but I’m no artist, and he just looked like a skinny Santa.  Those got scribbled out too.  She would request other people to draw them too, but I never saw a Bashful that met with the approval of her discriminating eye.

She would give food to Bashful at mealtimes, and sometimes seemed to reply to something he said, “Ooh, Bashful!“, like a ‘Carry On’ character.  Most notable, though, were the appearances of Bashful when she got mad or upset.  If a noise was too loud, if she was disciplined, if she didn’t like the way something was going, she’d snarl “Bashful!” in an aggressive manner.  We knew that if Bashful appeared, we had to stop whatever was going on, and calm her down.  He was a useful warning system for meltdowns, but his very presence meant that Pudding was unhappy, so I never liked him being around.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Bashful hadn’t been mentioned in a while.  She was happier in her new school, we’d removed several allergic foods from her diet, and life was pretty settled.  I even found the missing figurine, and she was pleased to see it, but no overreaction.  Then yesterday was a bad day.

I decided to go to Target (a retail store something like a Tesco superstore, English readers) for some back-to-school supplies.  Pudding quite likes Target, as long as we aren’t in there for too long.  We were in there quite a while looking for certain things, and Pudding got restless.  We went to check out, looked outside and saw how ominously dark it had become.  There was a huge storm.  Luckily there was a Starbucks inside the Target (yes, that is why I shop there) where we could retreat and wait it out, with the aid of bribes in candy form.  Apart from sudden urges to show other patrons her Hello Kitty underwear, it worked.  It was stressful for her though, we’d been in there for over 90 minutes.

Driving home I saw lots of the traffic lights were out, and sure enough, when we got home our power was out too.  It continued to thunder, the noise bothered Pudding, but less than it used to thanks to The Listening Program.  She really didn’t like the dark, or the lightning, so we waited out our time singing songs until it was time to collect spectrummy daddy from the metro.  We went to a restaurant where Pudding can actually eat the food.  She is normally very well-behaved in restaurants, dare I say even better than her neurotypical peers, but not yesterday evening.

I want mummy to draw Bashful.

I tried.  It wasn’t good enough.  She requested him over and over.  No distractions helped, she barely touched her food.  Yes, Bashful was back.

Strangely enough, this was the first night this week she slept through the night.  I needed it- without enough sleep I turn into Grumpy.  Much as I don’t like that little dwarf dude, how he always signals Pudding’s pain, he appears to comfort my girl.  And on the occasions when we can’t do the same, we should be glad to have him around.  Next time she is hurting, little man, come back- don’t be bashful.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 6, 2010 at 8:40 am