Tuesday 26 January 2010

'normal'? clothes - ok only if it's a summer dress.

Still no news on when our next appointments will be - something I need to chase up tomorrow in my 'free' time. Sasha has impressed me today by counting aloud in Spanish up to 7 (thanks Dora!) - although I'm sure no-one else would know that's what she's doing unless it's pointed out to them. Even then they may not believe it :) took me a while to realise myself!

The word 'normal' keeps sticking in my mind, and it's not really about how I see Sasha or Tamsin, but more about how society labels people, and what really is classed as 'normal' these days. We are lucky enough to have had a lovely 2 year old girl with Downs Syndrome join our swimming class this term, although she has been initially a little reluctant to join in, just like Sasha was last term. Again I felt embarrassed as I told her mum about Sasha, as if I didn't or don't really have anything to complain about (which is true - again I'm not complaining, just feel a need to explain). I also know very little about Downs Syndrome, although I will make the effort to learn a little more. I think what struck me is that she probably doesn't need to explain to strangers how her little girl is, and yet I'm sure everyone makes their own assessment without really knowing her. In a way, I guess that is what will happen with Sasha, and possibly even more so as nothing is obvious physically 'different' and a lot of her behaviour, as I've already mentioned, is on a par with most other toddlers. But I'm already concerned for her and how people perceive her if they don't really know/understand what is the matter - and as so few people know anything about autism (myself included until very recently), who can blame them? That's why, in a way, I feel it's important to spread the word - even if writing and not talking is my best way of communicating!

I recently filled a new photo frame with 3 photos (as there were 3 gaps in it, that seemed like a good idea ;) ). One of each of my girls independently, and one of them together. The one of Sasha on her own is from summertime when we had a lovely day meeting up with an old friend of mine in Kew Gardens, and Sasha is wearing a nice summer dress and sandals in it. Now although Tamsin has always been a skirt or dress kind of girl, Sasha has not really shown a preference (other than for no clothes at all) and so has mostly been dressed in trousers. From the first time she saw this picture in the frame, she went to her wardrobe and found the dress (which thankfully still fits!!) and has been asking for the sandals (which I believe are in the loft somewhere as they probably don't!). She has wanted to wear it nearly every day since, although mostly not to go out in (phew, it is winter after all). After last night, I had put it in the wash basket, and this afternoon she started looking for it again. She made it clear to me what she wanted, by taking me to the wardrobe and refusing every other dress in there, and then started to get very upset/irate when I tried to explain it was in the wash. After 10 minutes I gave up and the dress (slightly dirty) went back on - after all that would do no harm. Now is that normal toddler behaviour? Was she understanding my explanation of it needing washing? I'm really not sure on either count. However I think if it had been Tamsin at the age, she could have been mollified with something else equally nice.

Which brings me back to another memory which hit me yesterday, and which I've alluded to just above. Sasha not wanting to wear clothes. It would be a real struggle for us to get anything on her, with screams and much wriggling, and although most days now it's not so bad, she still hates socks with a passion (maybe it's the Dora overload??!) and would much rather be in just her nappy at home even on these cold days. And she was adamant she did not want to wear a coat out today, just her fleece top. Maybe 2 pointers for autism - sensory overload is one (in more severe cases children can't bear to be touched or have aversions to zips, seams etc), and not feeling extremes of temperature or pain is another. But Sasha is not exhibiting extreme reactions - again can that be put down to 'normal' toddler behaviour? Or is it just that she is learning, and we have in some way conditioned her into understanding that wearing clothes outdoors and at nursery is the socially acceptable thing to do, so she just tolerates it? Boy I wish she could talk ;)

Well that's enough for tonight, I can hear her coughing away upstairs now. She helpfully has one of those annoying coughs that gets much worse when you lie down and are very tired, so I've been up and downstairs watching DVDs between 2am and 4am for the last 3 nights, yawn! Tamsin got up at 4am last night to see what was going on but thankfully turned into a little angel and went straight back to bed. Which is where I'm off to now!