We started last week with our eldest girl winning in a fencing competition as part of a team of three girls. Our girl is not naturally sporty, but has thrown herself into this less common physical pursuit and improved, despite the whole new challenge of her new secondary school. The girls' team won again this week and Tamsin was awarded with a Gold medal! She's physically exhausted at the moment as she has been having lots of late night rehearsals for her Christmas show on stage at a local theatre - Wind in the Willows. Right now tonight she is doing a final dress rehearsal, for an audience made up of children and adults with special needs. I'm very proud of her.
We also attended the fencing team's Christmas party, and there's another achievement right there - the photo below shows Sasha joining in with a big group football game in the gym at the start.
No rules, no official teams, so I've no idea how she knew who she was playing for (she didn't; she was just running up and down trying to get the ball), but she was having a ball, and it didn't even end in tears! The whole party was busy and noisy, but she stuck it out for a while and then patiently went and sat in the changing rooms on her own waiting for Dad to arrive. Amazing.
I may possibly still be in shock after last Friday - Sasha actually wanted to go into school in costume for a Greek dress up day. It's a small miracle.
She's never wanted to get dressed up before; not only that but she has generally found these days too much for her to bear at all. Other people in costume cause her great anxiety, even when she knows them. I think it's just the overall change in appearance and not knowing what to expect which is the main problem. But then add to that the fact that most of the other children are super excited to be dressing up and doing something different and 'fun', whatever that might be, and the increase in general noise levels, and the whole usual schedule gone out of the window kind of day, and having to wear a costume which is likely to be more itchy and uncomfortable than normal clothes, then it's no wonder that these types of day are generally a nightmare for Sasha.
I can't tell you how relieved I was that we still had the plain white stretchy dress which seemed to get Tamsin through Roman, Egyptian and Greek day - and that it actually fitted Sasha, who is slightly bigger than her sister was at that age. Sasha was also full of cold and had one of those painfully irritating non-stop runny noses and a temperature, so I definitely thought she would want to stay home. But no. Off she went into school and actually managed to enjoy herself. Amazing. Of course I spent the whole day glancing at the phone frequently, half expecting it to ring...
So it was a good week, mostly. Let's just gloss over the fact that the panto on Saturday morning wasn't quite as good as last year's in Sasha's eyes - a bit tricky when she had been looking forward to it so much. I mean, why DO they have to change the songs and the gags?! Then both girls had to dash off to their drama group (pinch me, I still can't believe Sasha has been attending 3 hour drama sessions at the weekends! On and off of course, but she's done pretty well at them). It was end of term and Christmas show week, which meant a few short sketches and songs. When us parents returned to watch after 2 hours, I found Sasha under a table where she had been for about 30 minutes, unhappy and unwilling to talk to anyone. She didn't take part in the mini-show, but we were thrilled that Tamsin took part in an improvised routine, and came up with one of the funniest lines of the afternoon (yes, of course we were biased, but only slightly).
We had then been invited round for pre-Christmas bubbles and mince pies at the house of some very good friends, who have children who Sasha knows well. Sadly the whole day had been 'one of those' for her, and that, coupled with the noise of the other nine children at the party, proved to be too much. Within 10 minutes of arriving there Sasha was back at my side, demanding we leave for home. Quietly initially, but with more force as I tried to playfully distract her. I was just trying to delay the inevitable though - sadly the party was cut very short for me. Hey ho, some you win, some you lose.
This week has started fantastically for Sasha too, as she has walked to church from school in the rain, with her class, three days in a row, to watch them rehearse for their show on Thursday evening. She's not going to take part in the show herself sadly, mostly because it's being held in church and she just doesn't 'do' churches... but she's watched them rehearse it quite happily! If you had told me a year ago that Sasha would walk to church with her class, IN THE RAIN, I would not have believed you.
The other good thing which happened last week was that a special parcel was delivered. Inside was a book, with Sasha's picture on the front cover (see if you can spot her)!
The intention of this book was for it to be a positive story to promote the fact that there are many autistic children out there who just want to be able to love life, in their own way. We can help them, and in return they bring us joy and share many other talents. Inside Sasha has a whole page to herself, as do the other 149 children, and it has reminded me how happy she is when she is happy.
So proud to have been a part of this. Thanks go to Chris who writes the blog Autistic Not Weird, for doing all the great work of putting this book together and sending it out. No mean feat, what a project and what an achievement for him! He still has some left if you'd like to get in touch with him via his Facebook page, but hurry!
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