Tuesday 22 November 2011

Poorly girl. Won't take Medicine!

The first 2 days of this week have gone very slowly indeed. Sasha is off school poorly, at home with me. One minute she is bouncing around manically laughing and the next she is crying and screaming because she is so poorly and I can't make her better. She has a full on heavy cold with blocked AND runny nose, a bad cough, blotchy face and pimply type rash on her body. We are lucky that she is very rarely ill, but that means that she's not used to the feelings at all and so doesn't understand why she feels so rough, poor thing.

She still refuses to take any medicine orally, not even the tiny melt-in-mouth tablets that I requested from a homeopath as a last resource. The paracetamol suppositories are no longer really an option, as she'd definitely have to be in agreement for that - and she definitely isn't! It doesn't matter how many times we explain it would make her feel better, there is no way she will take anything when she's poorly. 

So I suspected a trip to the doctor's would be useless, but as that was the only thing she would agree to do (but only when she started to feel a bit better anyway), I made the call. Our local surgery is closed on a Tuesday afternoon apparently, and the linked surgery the other side of town was also helpfully closed today for staff training. So what, we're just not supposed to get sick?! Anyhow I got a call back from a doctor on call (ha), who suggested it probably was just a virus. Non-specific, anyone?! 'Just keep trying to get the Calpol into her'. Mmmm. We have. You wanna try?!

Anyhow in a strange way I was quite glad she was poorly today..... her school was closed due to flooding, and they were going to hold the classes for her age group in the church hall. Great fun and excitement for the other children maybe, but a nightmare for Sasha who just wouldn't have understand why they were there and what they were doing. I'm sure the teachers were probably relieved she was off too!!!

Last Friday Chris and I were so proud to watch her stand out at the front of assembly with 4 other children to get her certificate. The school cycles the awarding of these so every child gets one each term (ssshh, don't tell the kids!) and they are usually for fairly minor 'achievements'. Sasha's was for 'working so well on the computer'. I was particularly proud because during all the times I've watched Tamsin up at the front, I've thought that Sasha would never be there - well at least not calmly and quietly! I'm happy to admit I was wrong - Sasha jumped up on cue, stood still in the line and even said 'thank you' (well I always did say she was the politest non-speaker I know!) when the head gave her the certificate. Nothing unusual there, I'm sure most of the other parents thought. But for her that was an achievement in itself, although she's not really aware of that. She's just good at following routine, and having seen the other children do it over previous weeks, she knew what was expected. To not let anything else bother her, like the attention, the noise, the clapping, is an achievement.

This, however, was not her first certificate. The previous Friday I was really upset to find out, when I picked her up from school, that she had received her first certificate that day - when neither I nor Chris could be at the assembly to see her. I know many parents don't get the opportunity at all, so I should be thankful, but I was more upset because I know I've been at every assembly for Tamsin, and I would have liked the opportunity to be there for Sasha too. The standard process is that a child will get a slip in their book bag the day before getting a certificate, to alert the parents to the occasion. Then if parents are not able to be present at assembly that week, but want to be there the following week, the giving of the certificate can be postponed.

However when I read the slip and asked Sasha if she was getting a certificate the next day, she gave me a blank look and didn't register what I was asking at all. I tried again but got nothing, so I assumed she hadn't understood what was going to happen. On the Friday morning when I mentioned again that I wouldn't be there at assembly, she was blank. I asked in school if they had told her, and they said they had, so I did suggest that if she was waiting and ready, expecting to go up for it, they had better give it to her to avoid the confusion and a meltdown, and bless her, she was. So although she didn't understand or engage in my questioning her about it, she did know that it was her turn to stand up with those other children. And we missed it.

Whilst I appreciate the school can't check with every parent whether they can be there for assembly each week, I wish they had mentioned it to me before Sasha. I never asked for this approach for Tamsin - but that's because other children can have it explained to them why they need to wait a week before getting their certificates (disappointed as they may be, it's not the end of the world to them). Obviously for Sasha that doesn't work.

I took Sasha to the birthday party of a girl in her class this weekend. It wasn't a huge party, but the room it was being held in was fairly narrow, and to get to it we had to walk through a very busy cafe in the park. As soon as we entered the cafe, Sasha's hands went to her ears, and she told me it was too loud. I had to physically carry her over the doorway to the party room, as she really didn't want to go in. She was already asking to go home. I sat her on my knee for a few minutes, hoping she would see all her friends having fun and join in, but she really just couldn't take the volume. So we had to leave, and I felt terrible, worried that the host would think we were ungrateful (and/or overreacting) and also anxious that the birthday girl would feel upset that Sasha didn't want to be at her party. Once Sasha wants to leave though, I just resign myself to it, as there is no point in forcing her to stay. Once in a blue moon she can be distracted, but as you know, that's rare! I think the fact that she was obviously coming down with something has made her hearing/sensory issues worse recently. Poor thing, there's no fun in wanting to miss a fun birthday party!! I'm now just going round in circles trying to decide whether to attempt the other 3 parties she currently has invites for - especially seeing as one will have over 50 children at it!!!! Tamsin would most probably have been overwhelmed by that at this age too, but as long as I was there with her she would never have wanted to leave. The sensory issues common with autism are not something to be overlooked, for sure.


  1. Sounds like a tough week. We used have problems giving medicine to our son until we encouraged him with a piece of chocolate. Took a lot of encouragement though. Some people may call it bribery but it worked and even now when he takes his medication he has to have a piece of chocolate with it. Its now become a routine.

    I agree with you about the sensory issues. I've noticed with my son they can worsen through times of anxiety or illness and they vary as well. You could try the other parties and if she can't manage then come home like you did on the occasion. We do this with our son when we visit family or friends. Doesn't make for a family outing though does it but I guess that's the way it is with autism in the family.

    PS have tagged you in the Im not a celebrity, get me out of here, meme. Feel free to grab it whenever you want. No pressure as I know you're busy. Deb x

    1. Sadly bribes have never worked for Sasha :( as much as she loves chocolate, she would still rather never have it again than have to take any medicine!!

  2. Give yourself a lot of credit there. Kids this age probably are aware of their sensory issues, as yours does. However, they may not be mature enough to think about the "least restrictive" alternatives yet.

    As she grows up, though, I think it is important for her to understand the big picture of these social occasions... and eventually have some strategies on hand if she is feeling overwhelmed sensory wise.

    I will give you a personal example. One example was when some friends and I went out to a bar 2 years ago. After we got a drink or two, I had an episode of sensory overload. I politely told my friends that I would walk out for a few moments before re-joining them. Calling it a night would also had been an adequate option, too. But, this particular situation wasn't the best because these were friends I only would see once a year if I were really lucky. Also, forcing them to accommodate me because of my needs (even though they were OT students at the time) would be a bit too much to ask. So, walking out for a few moments to regroup and politely asked for permission for that was the "best" option here.

    This is the type of skill that I think Sasha eventually HAS (I put it in capitals because this is an important community integration skill) to learn. She has to learn that being aware of her needs is a good start. But, that's not the "be all end all" in some social situations like parties. She needs to understand the context of the situation, try to be as flexible as she can, while having a good understanding of her needs. It is not impossible to learn and balance, but something that may take a lot of time and "real life practice".

    1. Great, thanks Bill, great constructive comments.


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