I’ve always enjoyed the fact that Frances lines things up. In fact, to be honest, years before she got her diagnosis, I started noticing that she did this. It didn’t concern me because, as I said to Pink Cup Dad once years ago, Frances “always has a good reason” for doing so.
“Like what?” He asked.
“Like all of her baby dolls are watching TV.”
“That’s not a good reason…”
I can actually see his point now. She would have lined them up and THEN decided that they were watching TV because she doesn’t have storylines or narratives when she plays. The lining up is the priority and not the activity of having them “watch TV.” Her behaviour isn’t, and wasn’t, typical play behaviour.
Nothing has changed about this activity as she has aged, except that she isn’t interested in baby dolls anymore; she is intensely focussed upon horses and horse dolls and horse riding and horse-doll collecting and horse documentaries…
While waiting for an appointment recently, she sat on the floor and lined up her (Schleich) horses. She didn’t have a story that preceded or accompanied the lining up of the horses; she didn’t have one afterwards, either. I think it’s just what a herd of twenty-plus horses would look like if they were going somewhere.
Frances actually has many RBIs (repetitive behaviours and interests), and this is my favourite: she’s been doing it since she was about 13 months or so.
The behaviour to me seems harmless; if she likes lining up objects, why shouldn’t she? Certainly, it can be messy: I’ve literally seen hundreds of my books continuously lined up and looped around objects throughout the entire house because my 18-month-old daughter was THAT focussed. I was very impressed even as I picked up every single book.
I know that it’s a behaviour closely associated with autism and ASD. I like it.
So, recently, Frances and her class went to an art gallery. Pictures of the field trip were promptly posted online, and one, in particular, caught my attention.
Among her classmates, Frances is sitting opposite the presenter or guide for the tour. Quite clearly, Frances is speaking, and the guide is listening.
Out of curiosity, I asked Frances if she could remember what she had been saying. I mean, the photo suggests that it is an interesting conversation, and I love that someone had captured the precise point at which she was speaking, too.
Frances: The lady said that she was used to dealing with much younger children, and that we should tell her if she speaks to us as if we’re kindergarteners.
Me: Yes…But you were speaking. What did you say?
Her: I said, ‘Um, just to let you know — you’re speaking to us as if we are kindergarteners.’
(Her honesty, though legendary, is spoken in neither malice nor rudeness; she simply took the guide’s instruction at face value.)
The weather here has been ridiculously cold. We’ve all bundled up under extra blankets for windchills in the -20s and -30s.
We’re approaching the end of January, and, unfortunately, Frances has been pretty sick for much of the month which has prevented her from enjoying the snow whenever it appeared.
In fact, my highly active, super-humanly energetic child has been lethargic and disinclined to do much besides watching her documentaries and playing iPad games.
She keeps asking, “Mummy, why do I feel so sick?”
Because it’s winter. Because it’s cold-and-flu season. Because the flu shot isn’t 100% effective, but it’s best to get one to lessen the impact of the flu. Because you’re young and you haven’t been exposed to many viruses. Because kids at school are sick…
And so unfolded our Thursday conversations throughout the day (once I returned from Pink Cup Sister’s appointments).
The good news on this particular Thursday is that I finally took the ornaments off the Christmas tree. I had been preparing Frances for this event for some time, but she was still a little shocked and perturbed as I carefully packed up our glass ornaments.
There is usually a meltdown when Christmas decorations slowly disappear throughout January, but Frances has done well.
Give Frances paint, paper, and lots of space, and she’s happy.