Sunday, 11 March 2018

Mother's Day in a PDA way

Thinking of Mums everywhere today on this year's Mothers Day. 
mothers day breakfast on tray

I felt so amazingly lucky and grateful to be presented with some breakfast in bed this morning; made by our older daughter, who also did a special shopping trip to buy me lots of thoughtful little gifts. She chose a giant card for me, and signed it from both her and her little sister, because she knew that's what I would want. That's the kind of thing a special sibling does. 
Pancake pop

Twelve is a good age it would seem; a time when you really appreciate having a thoughtful girl who has browsed Pinterest for a fab idea - check out these pancake pops! They were yummy!

Meanwhile, the card which Sasha's Dad bought for her to give me remains unsigned on the desk in her room. Maybe she thought she'd do it at some point, I'm not sure. This is in no way a complaint about that; I only point it out because it highlights the struggles with seemingly simple everyday demands which our youngest has. This is a key part of Pathological Demand Avoidance.

I suspect there are many other parents of PDA children across the country who have not received a card today; sadly most likely many who have not been made to feel special in any way, and who have had to do the usual firefighting.
Unsigned Mothers Day card

Luckily, I know how much Sasha loves me, so I'm not offended by the fact she won't write me a card. I mean, obviously it would be nice if she did, and in fact she has, on the odd occasion over the years. There's never a guarantee though, and even though her Dad tried his best in all those specific PDA strategy kind of ways to get her to sign it, she just couldn't. So any family and friends, take note, it's nothing personal! I think Tamsin deserves a big pat on the back for always being the one to sign for both of them, and I made a point of thanking her for that today.

Surprising then, that today Sasha did actually manage to do more handwriting than she's done in the past 8 months - on this weekly schedule, which she decided herself she wanted to do. 
Sasha's handwritten weekly scheduleThis is all part of her 'new grown-up school girl' plans, and whilst my instinct tells me it will never last, you just never know with Sasha. She worked hard on this schedule today, and also on a separate picture, using stencils which she had just rediscovered - novelty factor often pays off with PDA! The girls are teenage girls, one grumpy like all teenagers (!) and the other shy... both with names and back stories. We can squash that myth about all autistic children not having any imagination right here.
Sasha's picture of two teenage girls

I did gently suggest at one point that maybe she could use the letter stencil for my card, but as that was my idea and not hers, it was resolutely shrugged off. 

Another part of the 'big girl' plans involves Sasha sitting down with us all to eat tea. For many families, this is a given, but for us I could count on my hands the number of times this has happened over the years. So when Sasha suggested this was what she wanted to do, you can probably imagine my delight... and fear! Sounds like an easy thing to achieve, but given that Sasha has a very rigid diet and she eats every meal much earlier than the rest of us (lunch for her tends to be around 10am, 1130 at the latest on a good day, and tea is usually between 4 and 5pm), then I could see some challenges ahead. 

Anyhow, Sasha decided this new change would start with this evening's Mother's Day meal. Dad, big sis and I routinely have a roast for Sunday tea, so today's plans were the same - how lovely that Sasha would sit down and join us, even if that was to be with her standard oven chips and sliced turkey! 

We all sat down, at our table, no devices.. and that was where the 'fun' began. Sasha asked what everyone wanted to talk about and then proceeded to lead the conversation about what she wanted, and every time someone else tried to speak, Sasha would insist she hadn't finished speaking and we should all be quiet. And so it went on. 

Sasha was obviously in high spirits, but also on the edge, and if, for example, we suggested that she didn't bang her knife and fork together quite so loudly, she would flip to saying 'right, that's it!' and almost storming off because we weren't wanting her to do what she wanted to do. Cue backtracking from us, and the usual tip-toeing on eggshells to try and keep everything on an even keel. Luckily, big Sis played along and helped us keep her on that tightrope. By the end of the meal, Sasha had eaten pretty much nothing (less than she usually would have!) and she reached a peak, retiring to her room to calm down again. I wasn't sure whether I was laughing or crying, but it was probably a bit of both if I'm honest. I tell you, never a dull moment around here! 

So that's how Mother's Day played out for us. I've been thinking a lot today about how lucky I am, and I know we couldn't have got half as far as we have without the amazing love and support from my mum and my mother-in-law. So thank you both masses. 

I'd like to send huge hugs to all those who no longer have a mum around. Also to those who never felt they had a mum worth having as they grew up (not everyone is cut out for this job, sadly). To all those who are now single mums, and whose children didn't have a Dad around to try and help them write a card today, and to all those Dads who have had to take over a mum role. To all mums of children with additional needs, extra loving hugs, and the biggest hugs of all go to those mums who have lost children; I truly can't imagine that pain and just wish I could make it better for you. Thinking of you all.


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