Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘mall

Adventures with Phineas and Ferb

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It is tough being the sibling of a child with special needs.  It is even tougher if you have some special needs yourself, in a similar-but-different way to your big sister.  Ask Cubby.  It seems like his formative years have been spent watching his sister in therapy, then having to go through the same thing himself.

So when your world is chaotic, and you don’t always have as much attention as you like, you tend to attach yourself to something that you really care about: a special interest.  A thing that marks you out from others.  A way of expressing yourself.  A way of being yourself, independent of all those other demands.

Cubby used to adore Thomas The Train/ Tank Engine, but as he has developed, he has opened up to other interests.  He likes cars (and Cars), super heroes, and Phineas and Ferb.

Although it is shown on South African TV, I had no idea Phineas and Ferb was big here until I heard they were coming to our local mall a couple of weeks ago.  I knew what we were going to do that day- we were going to meet them!

I collected Pudding and Cubby from school, and explained to them what was going to happen.  I explained that there might be bright lights and loud noises.  Probably lots of people and waiting in line.  They still seemed game.

When we got there, I knew it was an experiment in sensory overload.  We waited gingerly on the periphery as I tried to figure out a plan of action.  The queue was pretty big, as families waited in line to get their photo taken with Phineas and Ferb.  It was free, so some older kids had wised up to this, and kept cutting in to go round and round again.

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All fun and games for Phineas and Ferb until we spectrummy three turn up.

Cubby made it clear that he was not going home, and Pudding seemed to be okay too.  We joined the line.  I tried to make as much space around us as possible, as we don’t like being touched by strangers.  That isn’t the majestic plural either- I hate it every bit as much as my kids.  Of course, some scheming local kids decided to take advantage of the space around us by filling in the gap, but as long as we made it (eventually) to the front, I wasn’t too concerned.

One of the unfortunate aspects of hypotonia, is that Pudding and Cubby’s muscles tire easily (except when I want them to tire out, of course), which makes standing around for a long time particularly uncomfortable.  They decided to lie down, which didn’t exactly help with the whole people cutting in front of us thing.  Nor did it do wonders for my stress levels, but we somehow made it to the front unscathed.

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What, you are tying to touch me back?! 

 

I had assumed that Pudding wouldn’t want to actually meet Phineas and Ferb, but she surprised me by telling me that she would- and that she was going to touch them.  For a tactile sensory-seeker, there is no concept of not touching giant felt people.  What she hadn’t counted on, however, was that Phineas also wanted a hug/ handhake/ high 5.

No.

Only Japanese cats with no mouths would be granted such largesse.  As she explained to Phineas, Ferb, and the rest of South Africa:

“NO YOU*DON’T WANT PHINEAS AND FERB- YOU* WANT HELLO KITTY.”

Pudding still has a lot of trouble with her pronouns, but I don’t discount the possibility that she was actually commanding the promoters and people of Johannesburg to replace this duo with her esteemed special interest.

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You might thing this is bad photography, but I swear this is what it looked like.

 

A couple of women rushed on to the stage to help out, but unless I wanted things to get really out of hand, the only way to calm things down was to scoop Pudding up and remove her from the stage.  I was going to let Cubby have his moment!

I left a bewildered Cubby to hold hands with his heroes and have his picture taken.  It was awesome too- but I can’t find it anywhere.  Afterwards we found some beanbags to crash on.  The kids got the proprioceptive fix they needed, and after a few moments, we were all regulated again.

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Take that- sensory overload!

 

We were all calm enough to draw on special Phineas and Ferb paper.  Again, Pudding chastised a confused staff member for not having Hello Kitty paper.

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Ooh, you can see his photo in this picture- told you it was a good one!

All was well.  My breathing had returned to normal.  Pudding decided to tell me then that it was,

“…Pudding’s turn.  Want to go to Hello Kitty now.”

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She knows what we’re going to do today!

And you know, she was right.  Because it is tough being the sibling of a child with special needs.  It is even tougher if you have some special needs yourself, in a similar-but-different way to your little brother.

In our never-ending game of ping-pong, in which we parents are the ball- it was Pudding’s turn to be served.  I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

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Memories

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Pudding has an awesome memory.  We’ve never had it tested, but every once in a while she’ll say something that tales my breath away.  She has been able to recite entire books from the age of two.  She remembers what dress she wore on her 2nd birthday.  She remembers almost everything that everyone has ever said to her, indeed this appears to be the way she learns language.  I have dark fantasies about abusing this gift by taking her to Vegas for some card-counting, but have managed not to exploit it yet, even though the chips are down (ha ha).

I don’t intend to imply that Pudding has any savant skills.  She is no Rain Man, and is way cuter than Dustin Hoffman or Tom Cruise anyway.  I suspect rather that her memory skills have been sharpened because when the world gives you unpredictable and unreliable information, you have to use what you can to make sense of it all.  Her memory muscles simply work harder than ours do.  As she continues to develop, I’m hopeful that she will be able to use these skills effectively, and they’ll enable her to navigate the social world a little easier.  For now though, that memory can prove equal parts useful and problematic.

Take Wednesday.  Pudding has a half-day at school.  Every other week she has an OT session, but this was our week off.  Pudding was reluctant to go to school.  She is going through a phase of separation anxiety, and wanted to stay with me.  I promised her we’d do something later that she would enjoy.  Immediately she requested that we go to the mall.  Not a problem.  I promised, and she happily left on the bus.

I still had some chores to do, so decided to get them done in the morning so we’d have plenty of time to fulfill my promise.  At the store, Cubby went through his usual routine of taking off his shoes.  Rather than putting them back on for him to remove again, I placed them on the handy shelf below the shopping trolley/cart.  To distract him and keep his hands busy, I bought a warm soy milk from the “Mermaid Cafe”, which Cubby proudly told me was coffee.  We carried on shopping without incident, his shoes still riding below.  Even though I noticed as I put him back in his car seat, in the 20 seconds I took to return the trolley, I forgot them, and subsequently drove home without them.  Obviously, I do not have Pudding’s mad memory skills.

There was no time to go back before I had to get Pudding from the school bus, so I called to ask them to keep them for me until I could collect them.  Cubby wears custom-made orthopedic inserts due to problems with his legs turning in, so there was no question wearing different shoes- we only have the one pair.  By this time, Cubby was screaming tired, so I put him down for a nap.  I decided to be proactive and make dinner in the slow cooker.  I opted for Maple Dijon Chicken, but erm, forgot the Dijon.  Yes.  I swear I had a decent memory until I developed pregnesia carrying Pudding. I turned it up high, and added some rice.

Pudding’s greeting to me as I met the bus was, “I want to go to the mall now.”

Right.  The little glimmer of hope that she’d forgotten about that fizzled out.  I explained that we couldn’t go to the mall as I’d lost Cubby’s shoes, and we needed to collect them.  Cue unhappy Pudding.

When Cubby woke up, I bundled them both into the car, and we collected the shoes.  All the while, Pudding demanding we go to the mall.  To appease them both, I suggested that we went to the book store nearby.  Pudding ran to the Abby dolls again, Cubby went right for the trains.  Around 45 minutes later, I realized in my haste to leave, I’d forgotten to turn down the heat of the slow cooker.  I told the kids we had to leave again.  Evidently, this was a cue for the kids to pitch why I should buy them their favourite items.  Pudding was in no way appeased by my assertion that she had her own Abby doll at home.  She wanted that one.

Likewise Cubby didn’t care that he has a bunch of brand new trains at home from his birthday.  He needed Salty, an obscure diesel dockyard engine.  He doesn’t even watch the Thomas the Tank Engine show, but has a catalogue of engines that he studies.  Oh yes, I’m not even going to open that can of spectrummy worms right now!  He screamed that he wanted Salty, as I put him in a fireman’s lift on one shoulder, my backpack on the other, and shepherded a whining Pudding out of the store.

On the way to the car, Pudding remembers that she still wants to go to the mall, and begins her plaintive petition to go there.  Meanwhile, a still screaming Cubby recognizes the mermaid logo, and changes his yells for Salty to “I WANT COFFEE!  MUMMY, I NEED COFFFFFEEEE.”  Pudding decided to join in, only she wanted her coffee at the mall, as four year-old do.  My off-kilter sense of humour kind of relished the looks from everyone in the car park, as I looked exactly like the kind of flustered woman who does, in fact, pump double espressos into her high as kites young children.  Wonderful timing there, kids!

I drove home to find that the only useful thing I’d achieved all day- cooking dinner- looked and tasted exactly like vomit.  I served it up anyway, and amazingly the kids ate it.  I wonder how long it will take them to forget this particular act of motherly malevolence.

Try getting this image out of your mind!

Another day in our life.  Memories are made of these.  At least mine is goldfish short these days!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

April 15, 2011 at 7:44 am

The Mall

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This was a weekend where we didn’t have any plans, we were at a loss as to what to do.  If this ever happens, the best way to deal with it is to ask the most decisive member of the household (Pudding) what to do:

I want to go to the mall, please.

The mall.  Giant behemoth of over-stimulation.  Too big, too loud, too bright, too many people…that place.  Sensory processing dysfunction and autism go hand in hand.  Often malls  are the worst place to take a person who senses the world differently, it is just too much.  For Pudding though, most of the time she is under-stimulated.  She is constantly seeking new information, wanting to take in more and more.  She is a delight to be out and about with- it is when we are at home and she gets bored that the trouble begins.  Still, as a person whose senses function normally, but still finds malls a little much, I’m surprised that is her new go-to place.  I checked again to be sure:

Yes.  May I go to the mall?  Let’s go to the mall!

So we did.  When a child is as powerless as the typical 3 year-old, and as power-hungry as our atypical girl, it is wise to let her set the course.  The whole day will go more smoothly as a result. You might call this spoiling her, if so, I politely request that you go read someone else’s blog.  You will never understand, there is nothing for you here.  Got it?  Good.  The more we expose Pudding to different places, the more ready she’ll be when we make our next big move.  The fact that she wants to do all these things allows us to hope for a world of possibility.

This particular mall is huge, but that doesn’t matter- Pudding knows her way around it.  Not long after she had turned 2, my parents came to visit and she took them a 10 minute walk to the playground.  They didn’t know where it was.  She did.  My brain just doesn’t work like hers.  I’m lost all the time.  I need a GPS system to take me places, and she just knows.  It is incredible.  At the mall she only wants to go to a few places: the kids playground, ‘Mermaid Cafe’ where we get overpriced coffee and she has juice, The Disney Store (aka Princess shop) and shops that sell ‘pretty dresses’ for her.  Not for me.  I tried to on dresses, to be met with “Shall we leave?” and it being the first time we’ve heard ‘shall’ escape from her lips, we do.

The trip to the mall was successful.  We didn’t buy anything, and we even took our own lunch for the kids.  Pudding was just happy people-watching.  We must, as a species, be fascinating to her.

So the next day, when we again solicited suggestions on what to do from the children, Cubby volunteered “car” and Pudding stuck to the mall.  But rather than go the mall, we decided to go to The Mall.  As in The National Mall, home to the famous Smithsonian museums.  Our plan was to take her to see the ‘pretty dresses’ as worn by the First Ladies at their respective Inaugural Balls.  We hadn’t considered that every female tourist wanted to see the same thing, and it was packed.  Pudding started running around, getting flappy, so we leave.  Who would have thought it was the museum that would cause sensory overload, and not the mall?

We moved on.  She really likes all the boats in the American History Museum, but by far her favourite thing was this train, with all the incredible details.  Trainspotting and Asperger’s seem to go together, and our girl is no exception.

Trainspotter in the making

We had a picnic lunch on The Mall, and then hot-footed it out while the kids were still smiling.  We’re pretty adept at that by now.  It went so well that I won’t even cringe next time Pudding asks to go to the mall, or The Mall.


Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 4, 2010 at 9:15 am