Text support

Frances went to a sleepover this weekend involving two of her classmates. I was worried that she wouldn’t make it through the event, and, frankly, I waited for a call requesting that I pick her up. 

Fortunately, the sleepover parents were really good about letting Frances have her wifi-only phone in the room with her during the night.

This meant that she could text me which she did, at around 11:30 p.m., to let me know that she couldn’t sleep.

She asked me to text her a story about her favourite horse (as I make up a story every night at home) and I did. 

When I woke up the next morning, I checked my phone and found this text. It made me smile so much that my face hurt!


I’m so grateful for texting!

(I have to say that I’m also grateful that the host parents are very good with Frances! They have experience with Aspergers and high anxiety and are very sensitive to Frances’s needs, so allowing her to go to a sleepover hasn’t been as hard for me as it could be.)

Security object or sensory input?

Thinking about hats

Last week, Frances left her beloved My Little Pony hat behind after her social group.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but she wears the hat all day just about every day and her school accommodates her. I’ve always thought of it as her security object (like the stuffed animal that she has carried everywhere for four years).

As we headed to a Tim Hortons coffee shop to wait for Pink Cup Dad to pick us up, I didn’t believe any of my own words of reassurance that we would get it back. I was quietly panicking.

In the past, losing a special object has meant many tears and much discussion.

The next day, I made several phone calls to the hospital to different people and left probably frantic-sounding messages.

The good news is that I tracked it down. The great news? Frances had much less difficulty being without her hat for a week than I anticipated. It might be because I found it so quickly, but who knows? Maybe it’s not so much a security object; maybe she just likes the way that it feels on her head.

The faces that you meet

I was reflecting last night upon the fact that it has been just a little over 3 years since Frances’s HF ASD diagnosis.

Though I normally just read or sketch while waiting, I found myself having a conversation with a mother of two children with diagnoses of severe classic autism last night while Frances attended an ABA (applied behavioural analysis) social group. 

Both the woman and her children seemed very familiar to me. Her children were actually the exact age of Pink Cup Sister.

She asked me about Frances’s diagnosis, and I did my best to explain that Frances was given a diagnosis of high functioning ASD but that we were told that it could possibly be high functioning autism (as opposed to what used to be known as Aspergers). 

As the woman and I spoke, it occurred to me that she and I had a lot in common: there were definitely differences in our experiences, but we both had lives that revolved around routines, accommodating/managing/anticipating behaviours, setting goals, and going to appointments.

It transpired that we had been seeing each other off and on since Frances was a toddler and her girls were around four or five years old.

Before Frances was ever diagnosed with ASD, she was seen by professionals for gross motor and slight language issues.

So, we attended a development and rehabilitation department at a beautiful, ancient hospital where goals were set and each one was met through play groups, physiotherapy, or early-communication groups (from 12 months to 26 months old).

It was at this building that the woman and I would have seen each other in waiting rooms, corridors, and parking lots.

It was nice to meet her formally, and I ended up getting some good, useful information on summer activities for Frances.

Chihuahua 

Frances drew this picture yesterday for a friend’s dog — I think it’s really cute. She actually drew pictures for all of the dogs in that family, and this is my favourite.

Too many toys

Convincing Frances to part with toys is an ongoing battle. Over the summer, she donated several large bags of toys for the very young, but there’s still much more to go.

Happy New Year!  

A Christmas 2016 Update

Fortunately, Pink Cup Dad has been on vacation because I’ve been really sick. So, he took care of Frances on his own until yesterday when he went back to work.

The Christmas season officially ends for us in the second week of January as the kids return to school.

This festive period in general has been very hard for Frances throughout the years: changes in the environment (decorating), dismantling the tree, too many objects (gifts) around her, people coming by to deliver gifts, too much noise, too much of everything. The poor kid usually has several meltdowns.

I think that there must be some ASD families who try to avoid Christmas altogether. But in our case the change of NOT putting up a tree or decorating or opening gifts would also be horribly stressful for her, so we err on the side of celebration. In the past, we’ve staggered gift opening and limited visits.

At any rate, Frances found her way through this particular Christmas holiday probably with slightly less stress than in previous years. 

Christmas Eve was very difficult for her: she ended up sleeping for only two hours (from 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.). 

On Christmas Day, she had her 8-year-old cousins with whom to play, and ordinarily she has a very difficult time: meltdowns, conflict over sharing and the rules of play. 

This year, Frances had only one big meltdown (involving play) and some other relatively minor ones on the big day. Considering her lack of sleep, I think she did very well.

The next most stressful part about Christmas for her — removing all signs of the holiday — is coming up next.

I’m just too sick to deal with the Christmas accoutrement at the moment, and it will have to be put away at a barely perceptible rate when I finally can do so… There will, unfortunately, still be some tears.

Then, dear readers, we will have a small break from celebrations until birthday season is upon us from February until July…

(I should add: Frances really enjoyed Christmas, but I was trying to write about how she reacts to it regarding her sensitivities, etc.)