Tuesday 17 May 2011

Birthday picnic and ASD challenges

So, it's late, and I probably shouldn't be writing this post (zzzzzz) but just wanted to share some of the highs and lows that make up the autistic spectrum.

Today was mostly a good day, with a little challenge thrown in. My lovely parents have arrived to stay for the week as it's Tamsin's 6th birthday today (6 years since I lay exhausted in that hospital bed, wow, I can hardly believe it!!). The day started off beautifully, with both girls in our room opening presents. Sasha had a couple of 'distraction' presents, but then coped remarkably well when I insisted it was Tamsin's birthday, not hers, and instead of trying to open them she then passed all the presents to her big sister. Tamsin was remarkably patient with all this, and enjoyed every single one of her presents, which was a relief!

So a lot had gone on before going to school time. When I asked Sasha if her grandparents could take her to school, she considered it shortly, before asking for mummy to take her, but grandparents to pick her up. So all seemed well, and I left her happily at nursery. I did mention to the staff that she may be unsettled, as so much had happened 'out of routine', and whilst she seemed to be handling it well, these things often have a way of coming back on us, so to speak.

Well boy was I right. Grandparents duly dispatched at lunchtime to collect from nursery, but Sasha had a huge meltdown and refused to leave with them. She requested mummy (who was busy at home making 6th birthday cake) and was very distressed. Fortunately as I was at hand, I could whip into school to alleviate the problem. I arrived about 30 minutes after lunch club end, during the afternoon nursery session, and of course as soon as I saw Sasha all was right with the world again.

Strangely, this made me feel both sad and in a weird way happy at the same time. Happy is not the best word. Probably 'relieved' describes it better (although still admittedly weird), the relief that others can see the extreme behaviour, that in turn leads me to act in strange ways to avoid it sometimes. Sad as it just highlights how different she is from the other children. Of course it makes it extremely difficult - but not impossible - to leave her to be collected by others, or go on playdates etc. It really is the unpredictability that is the most stressful thing we live with - the day before in fact, she'd had a brilliant day, and even requested that another parent collect her after nursery (surprising but welcome!).

It's the 'extremeness' (sorry, my writing terrible tonight, too tired!!) of the reactions which is difficult to describe. Of course, if I hadn't been available, it wouldn't have been impossible to remove Sasha from nursery - she could have been taken out kicking and screaming, and would have eventually worn herself out and slept with the exertion.  As a mum, it's just difficult to see the distress that it causes her, not because she's being naughty, but simply because things are out of sync. Just not easy for her to deal with, in the way that 'we' all do every day of our lives. Lucky us.

The day ended on a much higher note with a beautiful impromptu picnic party for Tamsin suggested by Sasha, complete with mini cups of tea (water), candles blowing out and birthday song singing ceremony, and both girls giggling and playing nicely in turn in the bath. Let's wait and see what tomorrow brings.... never a dull  moment ;)


  1. It's so hard when the routine is off. Things just seem that much harder. You're a good mum for recognizing it. Hugs to you and happy birthday little one!!!


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