Monday 7 January 2019

Back to School after Christmas.. or not?

Today was supposed to be Back to School after the Christmas holidays for Sasha. 
child crouched down on ground
It didn't happen. 

I can't pretend that I'm surprised; I saw this one coming. There's an ongoing issue with Mondays and Wednesdays at her school, so the fact that the first day back after two weeks off was on a Monday was never going to be a winner. 

Sasha began the worrying about it yesterday evening - or more precisely, that's when she first vocalised it to me. I suspect it began on Saturday, at the point when I saw her mood visibly dip. We'd had a brilliant Friday out at roller skating and then our second panto trip of the season; we never normally do two activities as it's generally too much overload for her, but I think in this case it kept her mind off the impending school return. 

I'm still amazed that she wants to go back to school at all to tell the truth. It's not being going swimmingly and the jury is still out as to whether it's the right place for her. She loves her class teacher though and is looking forward to seeing her again, so she assures me now that she will make it in tomorrow. We'll see. I think she will though; tomorrow at least. 

Last night she couldn't get to sleep until I eventually agreed to sleep in her bed with her to try to help. This morning we woke early and she cowered on the bed making scared noises, then eventually hid herself under the duvet and told me through gritted teeth, in an almost-whisper, that she couldn't do it. She couldn't go to school because it was a Monday and also because she wasn't sure what to expect, whether it would be a typical Monday. 

I've been through this so many times now that I know it's fruitless to shout at her or tell her that she needs to go; I can try calming her and encouraging her but if she's too anxious, nothing works. We'd got to the point of discussion (a very short one) where she admitted she would rather go without her iPad for the day than go to school. I said I'd want her to read a book with me; she dislikes this and never usually agrees. I'd also pointed out that I'd want her to leave the house for some fresh air and that I needed to go to the supermarket for some food. Not things she would readily agree to any other time. But today even that seemed more appealing than going to school. 

Sasha stuck to her word and didn't complain about not having her iPad. She even suggested herself that she would do a 'taste test' - try some new food from the shop. We introduced these 'taste tests' in an attempt to expand her very limited diet about 4 years ago but have maybe averaged less than one a year since, despite asking to repeat them... 
Sasha happy with her baguette
We headed out to the supermarket, with a quick walk into the pet shop to look at the small animals and fish first, which put a great big smile on her face (typical; for once I'd left the house without my phone camera). In the supermarket, we shopped together rather than her just following me round and complaining that she wanted to go home. She suggested some things she would like to try; strawberries, peaches, watermelon, bacon, steak (!), nutella, skittles, mini rolls and a big baguette. At least six of those she has never tried before; the others are items she has rarely had or has only licked to try before. 
range of new food for sasha to try, as listed
When we got home, she posed for a photo with the baguette, pretending it was her walking stick. Then straight away she ate about a third of it (plain, nothing on it!). 
sasha using a baguette as a walking stick
Later in the afternoon she decided it was time for the taste test and I produced the strawberries, peaches and watermelon for her. She not only sniffed and licked them all, she actually managed to put the pieces in her mouth and chew too - that's real progress. OK, so the outcome was that none of them were loved, but at least they were tried. That's a win in my book. As I've mentioned before, the little things mean so much more when you have a child with additional needs.

I'm sure the fact that it was early and the shop was fairly quiet contributed to our success today. Sasha trusts me to listen and not be angry or force her to school when she's not capable of it, and that led to a happier mood than she otherwise may have had. Today may have been a day off school, but it was not a wasted day. 

I haven't made New Year's resolutions but I am making an effort to not let the evil 'attendance' word have as much of an impact here this year. That doesn't mean I don't care about it; it just means that I'm recognising that I am doing as much as I can and I shouldn't feel guilty, frustrated or that I'm failing as a parent. I think it's the opposite actually. 

I'm absolutely positive that I wasn't the only parent in this country with a child unable to go to school today. There's a great website which I'd love other parents in our position to know about (apart from the PDA Society one, which is a huge help for many) and it's called Not Fine In School,

Fingers crossed here that tomorrow's school day happens, if the anxiety has reduced enough.

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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  1. It sounds like you had such a productive day. Not a wasted one at all.
    Well done Sasha for being so keen on trying new things. That is such a big step x

    1. Thank you! Was a pleasant surprise to be honest. So good to see her anxiety level reduce x

  2. This is something we often struggle with. I struggle with my own anxiety about listening to his need to stay home- We really see a pattern with once we have done something once he has an expectation that it's something that will happen regularly/ often/ at his demand. I would love to be able to listen to his needs as you have here. Any tips?

    1. It is tricky, because there are always other needs such as your own to contend with! I know what you mean about the patterns, and at times I have worried about that, but Sasha can always surprise me. She rarely lies or does things for effect though, so I guess we are lucky in that. I suppose my best tip is to be as honest with your child as you can be - it's best that they understand the full picture too x

  3. No you certainly weren't the only parent in any country with a child unable to go to school today... Glad it was a productive day, we used to have many of those too and on the positive side I got to spend much more time and do more things with my teen than most parents do.

    1. I guess that is a bonus - the key is to stay calm enough to enjoy it I guess! x


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