Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘new school

First Impressions

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On Friday I took Pudding to her New School to meet her New Teachers and play with her New Friends.  Did you notice all the New in that sentence?  Pudding did.  She did pretty well, but she was the most anxious I’d seen her in a long time.

The new school is quite a distance away, so I sipped on a hot chocolate on the drive over.  Only when I got out did I realize the drink had been leaking on to my top the whole time.  I wasn’t going to make a great first impression.

When Pudding gets anxious, she tends to withdraw and disengage.  Some children on the spectrum (and some who aren’t) have other ways of expressing their anxiety.  It is obviously hard to see a child who becomes aggressive or tearful, but at least you can see that something is amiss.

I, of course, was feeling anxious too.  But seeing Pudding’s new teachers pick up on Pudding’s anxiety made me feel calm. If they can read her, I can relax, and focus on other things, like the amount of hot beverage I spilled on myself without noticing.

Pudding’s new teacher had very thoughtfully made her a new book with pictures of her new school, class, playground and teachers.  Pudding hung on to that thing like a life raft as a sea of new people, big and small, came to introduce themselves to her.  No, she didn’t want to play.  No, she wasn’t going to say ‘hi’.

And that was fine.  Pudding needs to be comfortable before she can be herself.  First impressions don’t matter much to her.  That can be a problem for strangers who don’t allow for anxiety.  Who makes judgements from isolated incidents that prove that she is antisocial and withdrawn.  It isn’t the whole story.  It isn’t even a whole chapter.  But it can be enough to make some people but the book down.

Back down to just two teachers and us, Pudding relaxed, and even spent some time alone with them.  We all agreed that bringing Pudding back another couple of times before the end of term would be beneficial.  While this might be the first impression, it wasn’t going to be the last.

And then the teachers mentioned how they’d found this blog.  So it wasn’t exactly first impressions any way, not if you could read about our lives for the last couple of years.  I finally got over the fact that my top was stained by the persistent thought that several of these people had probably just read my post about nipples!  (But artfully done, right?).

Pudding was willing to come back, and really that was the only thing that mattered.  My first impressions were of a welcoming, experienced staff, and a caring community- the kind that I’d be happy to return to.  Which is just as well, because we were back there today (more on that tomorrow).  With someone as beautifully complex as Pudding, you don’t so much judge the book by the cover, as find that you want to keep reading more and more as her story unfolds.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Honeymoon

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Though it pains me to write it, the honeymoon is over.

Yesterday Pudding had her first day of evaluation at an early intervention/ school for children with autism.  To say she didn’t want to go is putting it mildly.  Her big eyes filled up with tears as she begged to stay at home with me.  It was hard to ignore, particularly as I’ve seen such growth in her by staying home with me.  Like a new bride, I was focusing only on the good, and turning a blind eye to anything that interfered with what I wanted to see.  I’d been awake since 4 am, dreading the end of our sheltered time away from the outside world.

When it came time to drop her off, she was clinging to me, alternately screaming and pleading to go home with me.  I felt a weight in my chest as I struggled not to cry myself.  In the short term, the easiest thing would have been to carry her out of there like I was Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  But life is not like Hollywood, and a child with autism needs therapies.  I can’t give her everything she needs, though I wish every day that I could.  Nope, this isn’t the movies, although Pudding would have looked very cute in the sailor hat.

I collected her, and she rushed to get her backpack and then led me away impatiently as I tried to get a feel from the therapists about how her day had gone.  At home, she was a bundle of anxiety and hyperactivity.  We saw a return of old behaviours that I felt were left behind- mouthing inedible objects, picking at her skin, and climbing on the furniture.  Although I caught her in the act with the latter, right before dinner time she climbed again, and a nasty fall left a gash and bump on her forehead.

Once upon a time Pudding was quite oblivious to pain, and she still recovers well from little bumps and scratches, but this one was bad.  She was crying in pain, her little heart was racing and everything was just too much.  I cleaned her up and dressed the wound.  After a few cuddles, she was ready to venture downstairs for dinner (with the understanding that there would be a cupcake for dessert).

No sooner had we made it downstairs, than she started screaming and ran upstairs.  When she finally managed to speak, we learned that her distress was brought about by the arrival of a new vacuum cleaner for the house.  I was incredulous.  We’ve dealt with her fear of hoovers.  I’ve been able to vaccuum with her in the same room for a long time.  This was still new in the packaging- it had never been switched on.  We were hurtling down a backwards slope.

I hid the offending item, and after much reassurance that it was gone from the house and would never be used in her presence, she eventually came back downstairs and we got through dinner.  I’d felt sick all day, physically upset at the change in Pudding.  My sunny little girl once again plagued by anxiety.  I didn’t want to go back to real life, but it was already over.  There is more work to be done, and the gown and veil would just get in the way.

Then this morning she woke up….fine.  After a brief attempt to let me know she wasn’t going to school today, she nonetheless got ready, and helped pack her lunch bag.  She said nothing on the journey there, but when we arrived she went straight to her cubbyhole, left her backpack, and went to join her class.  No fuss, no drama, no tears.  There was even the tiniest smile as she began her day.

The honeymoon might be over, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a happy marriage, even with ups and downs.  We’ll enjoy the good, and support one another through the bad, and when this tour is over, we’ll be stronger and closer than ever.  You never know, sooner or later we might even get a second honeymoon.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 25, 2011 at 4:11 am