'So her costume is just a plain white dress, with a bit of tinsel for a headband' said the TA to me.
I winced. 'Ah I don't think she'll wear the tinsel' I replied apologetically with a wry smile.
'Oh, she already has' said the TA. 'She was fine with it as long as I let her take it on and off whenever it was itchy'.
Two things jumped out at me from this.
First, I should never underestimate what Sophie can do. As much as I think I know her inside out and understand her difficulties, she is still growing and changing and she is the only one that really knows what she is capable of.
Secondly, sometimes all it takes is for the person working with her to be understanding, and a bit more flexible, and miracles can happen. I never imagined she'd agree to put itchy tinsel on her head, but she did. Even if it was only for a short while, and she made a big point of scratching lots when it came off...
Sophie was a Dancing Angel in her Christmas Show this year. Apparently she had some words to say originally, but it all got a bit too stressful and dance was the answer. Having the added pressure of all the parents in the room means it is never guaranteed she will get up on the stage when the time comes. I still remember the Nativities and class assemblies each year in Infant school, and the sadness when she was unable to participate in some along with her peers, but as the years go by those feelings are less intense and I can be more matter of fact about the whole 'Show Time'.
I went in both days pre-performance to help Sophie get into her costume, which definitely turned out to be a good thing - following the dress rehearsal (which she had missed due to being poorly), her costume hadn't been put back in the right place, and although it was less than a couple of minutes before it was 'found', that was enough to start distressing Sophie. Luckily I was there and able to help find it and calm her down.
For Sophie's first performance I sat at the back and side of the hall, right by where she was sitting with the class assistant until it was her turn to go on stage. She blew me a kiss as I sat down:
When the time came, she went up and wafted her arms like an angel beautifully! The dance went very well, especially considering a few of the original group weren't there on the first day - it made the formations and crossovers slightly tricky, but all the girls coped remarkably well with the 'gaps'.
After that the play continued and at times there were a few whole school songs where Sophie stood up in her place at the back of the hall and sang along with her classmates - that was an achievement in itself for someone who doesn't like standing and joining in!
Towards the end Sophie asked her assistant if she could go out for some 'quiet time' so they slipped out of the hall quietly. Unfortunately by the time they returned, the last finale song had begun and Sophie was supposed to be back on stage! She did make her way to the front, and she stayed a short while, but it became apparent that the space she should have been sitting in had been filled and for a child with autism, that change is quite difficult to take. She handled it very well though; she just made her way back down the aisle, and sat on my knee for the remainder of the show.
Day 2 and performance 2 and Daddy was able to attend with me this time. We were permitted (by Sophie) to sit nearer the stage this time, and lucky Daddy had an aisle seat. Each time Sophie made her way to and from the stage, she stopped and leant over to give Daddy a special big kiss on the cheek! That was definitely one of the highlights for us both.
Sophie's dance was perfect second time around, with no missing angels, and she also managed to make it back on stage for the finale songs. We've got some great videos which sadly I can't share with you as there are other children in them, but I know I'll be watching them over and over with a smile on my face. Instead here's a couple more edited photos of what turned out to be a very memorable show this year. I'm so proud of my little angel (and of course of my big angel who sang brilliantly in her own Christmas concert too!).
At bedtime after the shows, Sophie sighed and said to me 'maybe I can say a bunch of words next year Mum'. We'll see. Maybe she can, who knows?!