Frances has so much energy lately — even more than usual, which is quite a lot — and we’re really looking forward to going out trick-or-treating tonight.

Ordinarily, over many years, we’ve gone to a party, which was great fun, and the evening usually would end with me taking Frances door-to-door by ourselves, away from the others. (At last year’s party, we didn’t separate from others, and she did so well running alongside other kids her age.)

This year, it will be just her and myself. 

We haven’t gone around our own neighbourhood in years, and it will be a nice change. Pink Cup Dad will be staying home and handing out candy.

In anticipation last week, Frances and I actually planned our route: she drew maps, and we selected starting and end points. 

Yesterday, we happily carved the pumpkin. This is usually the province of Pink Cup Dad, but I wanted to take a turn this year. (I was going for a traditional face for my first ever jack-o-lantern.)

I think we’re ready!

A good question

Frances: What have we DONE to this planet?!

She has learned a great deal about the earth through her love of documentaries and reading.

Change happens…or not

Unbelievably, behaviours that we have seen since Frances was three have disappeared only to be suddenly replaced by another behaviour. For example, this fall, the rigid insistence on watching documentaries at bedtime has been replaced by (the rigid insistence on) reading and listening to audiobooks.

Recently, some new behaviours don’t seem to have replaced any others — they simply appeared. For example, near constant whistling and leg-jiggling while seated have just arrived. Also, announcing facts, while present in the past, has intensified and can be measured in facts-per-hour now.

We’ve noticed some other of Frances’s behaviours appear to be ever so slowly, gradually changing into others with the help of motivation charts. For example, her insistence on being always in my presence is shifting just a bit: Every evening, for an hour, she reads while I’m in the next room.

But there are some behaviours that seem firmly set in place. For example, when Frances isn’t talking, crying, whispering, singing, humming or whistling, she clicks her tongue as often as thirty times a minute. (It’s a sound-related, or energy-related, thing that we don’t quite understand.)

Her anxiety level, unfortunately, is still usually pretty high, so worrying is very much an issue. For example, in a very few minutes, she can go from worrying about whether a paper cut will become something worse to trying hard to figure out the meaning of someone’s behaviour to wondering if something she enjoys is going to last.

Fortunately, there are things that we wouldn’t want to change and which, in fact, have not.

The way she sits for pretty much every activity — from eating to watching something to rocking and playing and lining things up — has been the same since she was a toddler:

We’re still fortunate enough to have the sweet, poignant insights that she gleans from her unique observations and which are often expressed in rapid-fire series of questions or, sometimes, as stand-alone random events. (This, too, started when she was a toddler.) For example, she once asked, with all the world-weariness that a five-year-old could muster: “There’s always a dead skunk somewhere in the world, right?”

In general, we’re happy when change that promotes independence in our daughter occurs, otherwise it’s all good.

I tried…

— Frances, do you want to go check to see if the timer on the oven is done yet?

— No.

— Are you sure?

— Yes.

— Maybe you really want to but you just don’t know it yet because you haven’t done it?

— Be quiet.


H is for Horse

Frances takes English horse-riding lessons every week. She has been interested in/obsessed with horses for years, and this year she gets to ride. I’ve never seen her this excited about anything else.

Admittedly, every week, I silently commune with her horse to remind him that the little girl who is grooming him and who will be riding him is MY BABY. He looks at me as if he understands. (But maybe he is starting to roll his eyes inwardly just a little bit.)

Why? Because this is me facing my fears. I can’t let my fears prevent her from doing something that is good for her. After all, she faced her fear of getting on such a relatively mammoth mammal and won!

Somehow, on her first lesson, I watched with pride (not fear!) when she effortlessly turned a full 360 degrees in the saddle when asked to do so. 

She has always had ambitions of showjumping — watching her get closer to these goals is very rewarding. 

Each week, she navigates a different obstacle course.

I was a little shocked last week as she turned her horse in a very tight circle inside the rectangular confines of four poles. 

This week, she trotted on her own.

Of course, unlike when I was a ballet mum, it will be cold watching her in the winter (even in the indoor arenas). The good news is that I no longer “smell” horses and barns — I am used to them now. 🙂

Old journal entry

Just came across a journal entry from December 2012, when Frances was five (and playing Minecraft every day). 

I remember having to stifle a giggle during the following conversation:

Me: Hi, Frances. How are you, my darling?

Her: Don’t go in the lava or you’ll burst into flames. 

Her struggle with pragmatic language (everyday social stuff) was really unknown to us at that point. 

We didn’t yet know that she had ASD, but we did think her responses to questions (or, commonly, the lack thereof) were often unusual.

Mostly, questions such as “How are you?” were left unanswered; at other times, her language reflected either an interest or curiosity out of context to the people, the things, or the circumstances, within her environment. 

For example, “Did you hear me say I love you?” might have been met with, “Do chickens eat more than corn?”

We actually still work on pragmatic language with her, but this journal entry reminds me that she has come a long, long way in four years!

C is for COLD

It seems as if cold-and-flu season has started.

Frances is sick today — her second cold since school started. So far, I’ve been able to avoid getting sick, but this one has her coughing constantly — so, my luck is probably running out.

When she’s sick, she just wants to be snuggled, and by snuggled I mean swaddled. She loves to be swaddled up just like a newborn (unless she wants gelato. Gelato changes everything.)