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.)

The little things

I took Frances and Pink Cup Sister to see Moana this afternoon with their aunt and cousins.

Frances had a great time and really enjoyed the movie, the popcorn and the chocolate.

An added bonus? The chair easily allowed Frances to rock when she needed to do so. 

It was a great way to spend the day after Christmas!

Before the recital

We were waiting for Frances’s school recital to begin last night, and Frances was running all through the auditorium to get out some energy.

Frances has the most energy of any child I’ve ever met: she doesn’t seem to experience sleepiness. (This will come in handy at university if she’s staying up all night to finish essays.)

I do joke about it sometimes because it’s good not to take things too seriously (and we make sure she gets enough restorative sleep.)

There was only one other parent waiting with us before the recital. I’m quite comfortable with this mother as we’ve both had children at the school for some time and she really likes Frances. She’s got a great sense of humour as well as very active kids, and the following exchange occurred as Frances ran around.

Other Parent: Frances is still very active, isn’t she?

Me: Yes…but I saw her yawn once. 🙂

She actually did yawn this past autumn, in the car, for the first time that either Pink Cup Dad or I could remember. 
It’s just who Frances is and the way things are. She may experience being tired more as she ages, but who knows? For now, she’s our very sweet bundle of energy.

Some reading material…

While waiting for an appointment on Friday, I glanced down at a magazine to see what Frances happened to be reading: 

The article is actually a synopsis of sorts of a book of the selfsame title, but, at first glance, I was a little shocked.  🙂

(A teachable moment: I spoke with her about the extreme language of the book’s title, about publishers trying to grab the attention of potential readers etc., and she understood.)

Lots of time 

Frances loves routines in general, but there’s one that she dreads: waiting in reception areas to see a medical professional. 

From occupational therapy, behavioural therapy, developmental pediatrician, speech therapy, and ABA sessions to private social group, dentist, and the good ol’ family doctor once in a while — we’ve had dozens of appointments since Frances was diagnosed a few years ago.

In the waiting rooms, sometimes there are toys, sometimes there are sense-oriented equipment, but often there are only books and magazines. So, we usually just bring our own entertainment to help pass the time: Barbies, baby dolls, or an iPad.

There are days when I know that waiting will be too hard for Frances regardless of her travel activities, so I don’t even sit down when we arrive at the reception area. I just follow her around, and my engagement seems to be enough to distract her.

Some days, something out of the ordinary will occur, such as a hospital testing its emergency alerts, and I have to try to keep Frances calm by holding her ears (alarms) or her eyes (flashing lights).

Mostly, waiting simply involves keeping Frances occupied to avoid boredom and tears.

But, it’s all good. We do what’s necessary when necessary. We just do a lot of it!

Christmas 2016 update

I spend much time sketching, and I end up filling more than one sketchbook in a month. 

My sketching is often just comics featuring my family or whatever I happen to be thinking about. (This morning, I sketched all of the CBC journalists that I could remember because I was listening to a Canadian news programme called The National.)

All this to say that I haven’t written much about Frances this week.

But I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Frances recently received a letter from the North Pole because she had written to Santa on November 9th. Her own missive to her favourite holiday figure was written using a free stationery kit that Toys R Us distributed last month, and we sent it to the North Pole.

The list was so long that she used both the English and the French pages.

Well, I’m finished Christmas shopping now: Santa won’t be delivering a horse (or a pony) this year, but I’m certain that Frances (and Pink Cup Sister) will be happy with what appears under the tree on Christmas morning. 

As for our next writing/Christmas project: we like to choose one news story that features a child who wishes for something for Christmas (such as cards or homemade art), and we try to honour that wish. This shows Frances, I hope, that there are different ways to connect with people, and I’m hoping that it helps to show both girls the importance of thinking of others.

A horse is a horse, of course

As it turned out, this week, Frances decided to ride another horse (B) for her lesson. She told her instructor that she wanted to try a smaller horse and, actually, she really has wanted to know what riding another horse would be like.

B’s a very responsive, energetic horse who is very much unlike the horse that she has been riding since the start (A). Whereas it would take much effort to get A to move, let alone trot, B required no such work.

For the first time, and quite ahead of my expectations, Frances did her first full jump! She said that, as B trotted, she just leaned forward to hold on and over the full cavaletti she went (under the guidance of her instructor).

In general, B gave Frances a better riding experience than A usually does.

I’d say that B actually inspired confidence in our little equestrian, dear readers, and it was wonderful to see throughout the lesson. (Apparently, it can take anywhere from three months to three years to learn to jump — I’m glad that she felt confident enough to do so at this point.)

Sadly, as Frances went to visit A before leaving the stable, A turned to face the back of the stall. She moved into the adjacent stall to try to pet him, but he then turned his back to her again. So, there is some relationship work to do (much to my surprise).

Frances was disturbed by this turn of events, but I later explained that A has to learn that it’s okay for her to have other horse friends, that she doesn’t like A any less. Next week, she can bring him some carrots and apples. 

Unlike other activities, horse riding doesn’t break for Christmas — so she’ll have lots of opportunity to show A that they’re still good friends even though she wants to switch horses.

The case of the friendly cat

One of the most wonderful things about Frances is that she loves a good mystery: her mind won’t let something go until she has considered it from every angle — and even then, sometimes.

At the park today, a kitten followed us around and played with Frances and her cousin for a long time.

The cat was friendly and enjoyed a good belly rub. She was also clean and well cared for, so we figured that she must have a human family somewhere nearby.

Unfortunately, a little girl, who wasn’t wearing a coat and was about the same age as Frances, came along and promptly took the cat away while claiming that it was hers.

This little girl behaved roughly with the cat and sat her in a baby swing. She picked the cat up quickly and tried hard to keep the cat from escaping her attention.

This did not sit well with Frances and her cousin, and Frances concluded that the cat probably did not belong to the little girl.

She had several reasons why (including the fact that the girl had hesitated when asked for the cat’s name), and asked us many questions at the park.

I told my sister-in-law that Frances would not be able to stop trying to solve the mystery, and I knew that I was right.

A couple hours later, back indoors, Frances could be heard posing her questions about the cat and its supposed owner.

Six hours later, as she was settling to go to sleep, she wanted to tell me the reasons for suspecting that the girl was not the cat’s owner.

Tomorrow, and for some time after, we will go over it all again until Frances is comfortable with the mystery not being solved. 

By then, she will have found a new mystery…