Monday 13 February 2017

Tricky times

Today wasn't exactly a bright start to the half term holiday week. 

That's probably the understatement of the year. 

I spent half an hour lying on the floor next to Sasha, sobbing as she put her arm round me and even stroked my head.

Luckily, our eldest girl was out having fun with one of her friends today. They went to see the new movie, Sing. I'd have loved to see that movie. I'd hoped, after our Christmas holiday success with going to see Trolls at the cinema three times, that Sasha might have wanted to go and watch Sing.

She said no. She says no to most things these days.

I'm struggling to find a way to get through to her, to convince her to leave the house for any activity at all. Her only hobbies, she tells me, are the laptop or iPad, playing Minecraft and Roblox, or watching YouTube.

Stephs Two Girls painting

Of course she has had other interests, but these days they're not often mentioned. Swimming or roller skating used to be a guaranteed reason for her to leave the house, but they're no longer working. She's tried after school clubs, including gymnastics, dance and drama, and all bar one have failed. 

She's mostly to be found lying on the floor playing on the laptop, or sitting on the sofa watching YouTube. On rare occasions she'll play Skylanders, or Mario, Kirby or a.n.other Nintendo game. We do have small flashes of the old Sasha - the couple of times she's been happy painting in our new house, or when she's decided to make a chocolate ombre cake for her young cousin, for example.

Sasha's chocolate ombre cake design

It doesn't help that I've recently been creating photo yearbooks from when the girls were young, and there are so many happy photos of us out having fun together. I miss that.

Part of me thinks I shouldn't be confessing this lack of activity and focus on screen time out loud; that 'someone' will come round and deem me an unfit mother. Or that others will judge and think they can do a better job. Surely I just need to force her outside?

Anything I do with Sasha takes a lot of careful thought and planning. Sure, I can force her out, but I'd then pay for it afterwards. That's always been the case; there's nothing new about that. 

However over the last few months, there's been a marked decrease in her activity, and her happiness. This seems to directly relate to her increased anxiety and struggles at school. She needs to de-stress more at home to compensate. I've allowed this 'falling into a rut' to happen, therefore I must be a rubbish mum. I just don't know what else to do.

That's why I was crying. I'd got to the point today where I had tried everything to persuade her to leave the house, or even to stay in the house and do some activity with me. She was having none of it, telling me I'd interrupted her at the wrong time, that she hated reading, that 'when kids get older they just do what they want to do'. She doesn't want to do anything, and yet she says the laptop all day is boring, boring, boring - but says that anything else would be boring too, so she won't do anything.

She told me to go out of her room and shut the door, again. So I flipped. I said that maybe it would be better if I just left her altogether, seeing as she didn't want to do anything with me. I'm not proud of saying it, but I'd just had enough.

I left the room, and five minutes later she followed, to stomp upstairs to her own room where she proceeded to cry noisily in a very put-on sort of way, whilst kicking the bed. She was crying angrily that it was terrible that her mum was shouting at her (I hadn't actually shouted, but I had, for once, made my feelings very clear. She didn't like it).

I went to her, to lie with her quietly, to calm her down. I didn't talk, and she didn't say much either. 

I couldn't stop the tears. She knew I was upset, and tried to comfort me in her own way, with a small arm around me, by lying on me and squashing me, by stroking my hair in an awkward way, and then finally by kissing my head (she hates kisses).

Of course all this just made me cry more. You see, there was no understanding of why I was upset, no apology, no intention to change her mind about doing anything. She walked straight back to her screen without giving it another thought. Until bedtime, when she said in a very matter of fact way 'oh, this is like when you were lying down earlier'. This though, is not defiance and selfishness. This is her disability. This is Pathological Demand Avoidance. And that is the other part of why I was crying.

Of late it's become more apparent to me quite how much of a disability this is for her. She's told me several times over the past few weeks that she doesn't know the right words to use, that she just can't explain herself. I feel her pain; I'm finding it difficult to explain this to others, to be honest. That's my main reason for sharing a less positive day on here. In some ways, Sasha's brain seems to function at a higher level than some of her peers, and yet in others she is so far behind in terms of understanding and awareness.

We are entering a much trickier phase of her life than we've yet encountered, with decisions about secondary school needing to be made imminently, puberty just around the corner and mental health issues looming as she realises just how different she is. 

Tricky for us, tricky for her. Some days all of this seems beyond difficult.

Spectrum Sunday

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