Monday 19 November 2018

Getting out and about with PDA, and school update

There's been so much going on for us over the past year or two that I've moved away from writing the usual life update posts on here. I've always loved Facebook as a social tool, so I tend to do shorter daily or weekly updates over on my blog Facebook page (come and join me there if you can!). Facebook is very frustrating though, as it does tend to limit the reach of a post so I never really know who has seen it in their timeline or not. I suppose it's not much different with the blog to be honest - I don't know how many people have signed up for the email updates* when I write a post (which is not exactly a regular event). 

This past weekend was so good for a specific reason that I decided it deserved a blog post of its own. 
Girl with two shadows

For a general walk, further than our back garden. Which is why it's so special. I appreciate that may sound a little crazy to some. Obviously she does leave the house for school on the days she goes there, and in half term we visited Hobbycraft twice, and last week we made it out of the house to the Zoggs swimming event, but other than that we have been struggling for a while to get her to leave the house out of school hours. It sometimes feels as if she is so overloaded by the demands of school that she needs to destress at home with her beloved iPad a lot (I won't go into screen time right now, that's a whole other post).

As we mourn the loss of summer and approach winter at what seems like breakneck speed, it becomes even more difficult to persuade Sasha to leave the comfort of her room. Her fears of natural disasters are in full force and her anxiety extremely high whenever it rains, as she fears it will flood everywhere. Then there's the clothing problems, which I also talked about over on my Facebook page recently (see here). Sensory issues mean that Sasha generally only wants to wear short-sleeved, soft stretchy jersey dresses. No leggings, no T-shirts, no tights. However, the only dress which Sasha is totally comfortable wearing at the moment is a floaty, sleeveless summery one (let's ignore the fact that it has a button at the nape of the neck which her hair catches on so she leaves it open to avoid that discomfort).
Sasha in an old favourite park area
This weekend, with much reluctance on Sasha's part, I went through her wardrobe with her and asked her to try on (with lightning speed) all the dresses we had for her. Too short, too long, too scratchy, waistband in the wrong place or too tight, style too blue or too 'young' for her (in her mind).... we put aside eight dresses. That left her with three. But two of those she doesn't really like either. So the summer dress it is. Add to that the fact that she hates coats with a passion, and you can see why it's a challenge to get her out even if she was up for it. Which she's mostly not.

This weekend though (after many weekends of planting the seed, trying to do deals and giving her choices of where to go), she decided eventually that she would agree to come out for a walk with me. She did mention that she'd have liked her older sister to come along too as it would be more fun with her, but big sis is currently doing show rehearsals on a Sunday afternoon. So by the time Sasha had agreed to come out, it was just the two of us. She chose where we would go; in the car, to the other side of town, to our old house where our girls grew up and lived until they were eight and ten.
sasha by playground
We were lucky to live very near a lovely park back then and Sasha remembered all the paths we used to take for walking. I let her lead the way and we retraced all our steps around that neighbourhood. She loved recalling all the memories of where we went and how she would play with her big sis in this playground. The two of us walked for over an hour, which is unheard of for Sasha. 

We drove past our old house to begin with and Sasha kept using the word 'nostalgic'. She desperately wanted to go in and see our old house and get to know the people who are living in it now. If she wasn't shy (her words) then I think she might have pushed me to ring the bell! She said she was remembering all the happy times.
Sasha in front of the maze
At the entrance to the maze. This was planted when our girls were young and has now grown to a decent height. We spent HOURS in here when they were younger!
The sky was blue but it was definitely chilly out, and I was wearing a scarf. All this time, Sasha was in her summer dress, short socks, and just a thin velour hoodie. She never once complained about the cold; I asked her a couple of times if she was cold but she was adamant she wasn't (until right at the end when we were back in the car and she admitted she was looking forward to being back in the warmth at home). 

I'm sure other people we passed all bundled up, out walking their dogs or playing in the park with children, may have given Sasha a second glance and wondered what kind of a mum I was to be letting her out so poorly dressed. I've long since stopped caring or even thinking about what other people think though - that didn't cross my mind at all on the day, only now that I'm back looking at the pictures! Don't tell anyone but I also hadn't brushed her hair at all that day... I knew that could have been the straw which broke the camel's back and could have led to us not leaving the house at all. I've learnt when to 'let it go', and our house is generally happier for it.
Sasha by her old nursery
This was her outside the nursery which she used to attend back when she was two years old. She could remember lots about it and what they used to do, and again was very keen to go in and have a look round again. She was a bit sad when I said I thought that wouldn't be possible. It's difficult for all of us to move on though sometimes isn't it?!

So I thoroughly enjoyed my Sunday afternoon with Sasha and appreciated every moment of it- especially the fact that she let me take some photos, which is a very rare occurrence these days.

I thought I'd also do a very brief update now on where we are at as we enter the Christmas season (yep, I said the C-word!). New readers can do a catch up on our story so far by looking at 'Our PDA Story week 35' which is a summary of our life up to April this year. Sasha is still attending the Special School she was eventually allocated a place at, but it's not been without challenges and she isn't exactly skipping in every day. 

So far this term, she has missed on average one or two days every week due to anxiety over specific issues in school. She has a great class teacher who she loves, but that teacher is only with her for three full days a week and on the other days Sasha is supposed to do classes which she's not loving so much (spot the understatement). History, cooking, PE, topic work are all pushing the wrong buttons for Sasha at the moment but the school are doing their best to put in some reasonable adjustments (such as plenty of sensory breaks) and we are limping on towards Christmas.

Sasha is excited about the Christmas play. Back before the summer holidays, Sasha came up with the idea that she wanted to write the script for the whole school play. Slightly ambitious perhaps, but the school tried to run with it until they realised that Sasha likes to follow her own imagination and possibly didn't quite have a grasp on what the other children at the school would be capable of in terms of acting abilities. She made me laugh by talking about 'breaking the fourth wall' - a theatre expression I'd never heard of and which I'm sure she could only have picked up from YouTube.

Anyhow the script was gently moved to one side, to be printed for others to read in reception but not to be acted out, and Sasha was instead offered the role of Co-Producer with her class teacher. She seems to be loving this idea and tells me that there will be surprises but that she is not going to be in it herself. It certainly would be a surprise if she got up on stage, or even makes it to that day in school... I'll live in hope!

*Someone did ask me the other day how to subscribe.... in case anyone else wants to know, it's quite simple - scroll all the way down to the black bit at the bottom and enter your email address in the box under where it says subscribe. Any new posts get sent direct to your inbox, but I don't use the email address for anything else, it all happens behind the scenes!

To find out more about our experiences, please check out our 'About Us' page. If you are looking or more information on Pathological Demand Avoidance, why not try some of these, my most popular posts?

What is PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)?

Ten things you need to know about Pathological Demand Avoidance

Does my child have Pathological Demand Avoidance?

The difference between PDA and ODD

Strategies for PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance)

Pathological Demand Avoidance: Strategies for Schools

Challenging Behaviour and PDA

Is Pathological Demand Avoidance real?

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