Friday 7 April 2017

On stage, with and without autism

Yesterday, I had the most amazing ups as well as difficult downs. I can share the best bits with you; they were seeing both my girls on stage (separately, at different venues, one school in the morning and the other in the afternoon). 

Steph's Two Girls March 17
taken on Mother's Day this year - see footnote!

Not just 'on' stage, but shining on stage, and loving the experience. 

Of course they've both been on stage before, several times (and did I mention that our eldest was Simba in the Year 6 production of the Lion King at school *proudface*?!), but appearances can be a bit of a hit and miss affair for our youngest. 

At the beginning of this year Sasha had to make the choice to give up weekend drama lessons (that she'd just started in September last year) because the children were rehearsing for a show. There were just too many unknowns, alongside too much repetition of learning lines and songs, and waiting around for everyone else to pick it up when she clearly could have repeated the whole show word for word after her first read-through (I'm exaggerating, but only slightly). Patience is not one of Sasha's stronger qualities...

Older sister took part in that drama show last weekend, as a roller skating weather girl (it was funny, take my word for it), and Sasha just about managed to sit through the whole show. That was achieved largely by us managing to dash in and 'nab' (a Sasha word) front row seats, where she felt like she could be a part of the action - indeed, she sang along word perfect to every song. There was some waving of arms, and hands over ears, which no doubt embarrassed big Sis a little if she saw it, but by and large Sasha coped admirably. However, right at the end, the grin slipped from Sasha's face and she turned to me with wet eyes. 'I'm sad I couldn't be in that' she whispered.

Whilst she is beginning to understand her own limitations, that doesn't stop her from wanting to be a part of the action. Which is why I held my breath as I approached her school for the rock band concert yesterday - it would mean as much to her as it did to me.

Rocksteady is a new group, which has as their aim bringing the fun of music to primary schools. Sasha decided she wanted to take part when the initial letter came out in December, and was adamant that drums would be her thing. She was placed in a band with seven other children and she has totally loved it! Not quite plain sailing, as per most things for Sasha - some rehearsals missed due to meltdowns and time off school. There was a very real worry that the extra nerves for the concert on top of her everyday extremely high anxiety levels, sensory issues and struggles with communication might mean that she didn't make it on stage on the day at all.

As parents of around 30 children filed into the assembly hall with all the children from the school, I worried that the idea of performing would be too much. What followed was amazing to watch - Sasha's group performed Eye of The Tiger and Sasha appears to be a natural on the drums! Guess we know what to get her for a birthday present now.

It was fantastic to see that she was able to overcome her own struggles to take part. She had her hands over her ears as the other three bands played afterwards, having reached her limit in terms of noise (the crowd being whipped up into a clapping frenzy didn't help!). I'm so impressed with the Rocksteady music teacher, who I spoke with just once, briefly, about Sasha. His attitude was that it should just be about having fun and taking part, and that shone through for all the children.

Our eldest was on stage later that day at her (different) school, taking part in a drama sketch devised by Sixth Formers, for a house competition. She spoke loudly and with a very clear voice, up on a very high stage, to a room packed with adults - amazing composure at just 11 years old I thought (though of course I'm biased...). Her house came second overall, which she was thrilled with.

We are so proud of the way Tamsin has been voted Form Captain by her peers this term and how she has thrown herself into every activity at her new school which awards team points - she is a real team player. 

Yesterday was a good day. Sorry (not sorry) for shouting with pride! Of course I can't share any pictures of the performances sadly, as they involved other children, so instead I'm posting ones of me with each of my girls - taken on Mother's Day this year* 

*as I'm prone to oversharing, I can tell you that this was the first time in a very long time we have been out in a restaurant, and it was so that I could see my own Mum on Mother's Day. The smiles tell one story, but I can tell you the other - that we won't be going back to any restaurant for a VERY long time....

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