No pink dinosaurs this year

It’s birthday-planning time again. Time has flown by in the blink of an eye.

I find it hard to believe, but Frances will be 11 years old this month. She is younger socially (about 8/9) and older intellectually (about 14/15).

But buying gifts isn’t as difficult as it may sound; she still only has one interest which is expressed in dolls and books and conversations and lessons: horses. (Thankfully, she has discovered, in the past year, Playmobil horse sets, so our options have expanded.)

In my previous post, I discussed the fact that some behaviours sometimes come and go, or change, well this includes her behaviour in response to stimuli such as sound (and the emotions of others).

In the past, when very young, she would hold her ears and cry (leading to lying on the ground and screaming) when her environment was too loud.

By the age of 10, she wouldn’t often lie on the ground screaming but would hold her ears and, eventually, cry.

Now, her facial expression clearly says “anxiety”, and she starts flicking/tapping her fingers which rapidly alternates with flapping her hands, while making sounds that quickly lead to crying.

Being in restaurants, school, theatres, buses, streets, malls, stores, etc. still causes her great distress. (So, I’m actually baffled by the private facility that provides her weekly social group when they choose bowling alleys as a venue.)

Of course, not all children with HF ASD react to the same stimuli or even to the same stimuli in the same situations, but Frances has always responded to “loudness” with obvious coping behaviours.

Recently, I’ve also noticed that where the emotion of others is concerned (such as if another child is angry or sad), she now repeats a word or a sentence over and over again while holding her ears and, then, while crying (when she previously would have cried without the use of language).

At any rate, we have two options when coping behaviours appear: remove Frances from the environment or have her listen to music on her phone with earphones.

Usually, we try earphones and music; if this doesn’t work, then we have to take her out of the environment either temporarily or permanently (depending on whether her distress continues and/or if she’s willing to try again.)

I wonder if the change in coping behaviours indicates an improved ability to communicate distress? Or if it means that Frances is actually in more distress than she would have been in the recent past? Or both?

Ah, so many questions as always where ASD and our girl is concerned.

Anyway, I’ve got to get some birthday shopping done now.

🙂

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The birthday girl

We celebrated Frances’s 10th birthday this weekend, and there were no meltdowns during the two parties. 

She covered her ears during the “Happy Birthday” song both times, but we kept the numbers very small at both the party for friends and the party for relatives, so she didn’t get overwhelmed in general.

At the party for friends, in addition to a few classmates, she had two friends from horse-riding lessons which was really nice.

Guess what theme predominated the gifts that she received? Horses. She got every manner of horse toy for which a ten-year-old horse-and-doll-loving little girl could have wished, and it was really sweet.

Achieving goals

The Pink Cup household is never boring. There is always a bustle of busy-ness around here. 

But, it is important to note change when it occurs, and there have been some pretty positive goals achieved in the past couple of months:

  • Frances will get her own breakfast now if I’m sick
  • Frances reluctantly agrees to take showers
  • Frances showers without any assistance 
  • Frances reluctantly agrees to wash her hair
  • Frances washes her hair without assistance
  • Frances reluctantly agrees to stay in rooms by herself 
  • Frances reluctantly stays in rooms by herself 

Though she is having trouble adjusting to big changes in her classroom, there is definitely more independence as she approaches her 10th birthday this month.

More party success!


Frances has severe separation anxiety, and, consequently, has never attended a birthday party (or a play date) on her own.

Yesterday, a school friend had her birthday party at a local cinema. It would have been the wrong event for a practice solo run, and Frances was unwilling anyway.

Fortunately, the invitation specifically mentioned that I could join her at the party, so an awkward conversation was unnecessary.

As usual, I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst.

Before the party, in the washroom, I explained to Frances that if she should cry at any point, the birthday girl would think that her party was unsuccessful. (She frequently mentions perceived injustices which always leads to perseveration and crying.)

Also, in my bag was an arsenal of coping tools including, but not limited to, the falling-apart stuffed animal that she has taken everywhere for the past three years, noise cancelling headphones, and hand sanitizer.

(I did start to worry a little when, just before the start, Frances asked, “It would be very bad if someone I knew died while I was in the middle of watching the movie, wouldn’t it?” I hadn’t prepared for whatever that question might have portended.)

Well, Frances did a great job: she only left the party table a few times to get hugs and kisses from me and returned to the activities somewhat easily.

Sometimes, throughout, I would whisper, “Say thank you” and the like.

Only the stuffie came out of the bag (at the outset of the film).

The parents were so nice in allowing me to accompany Frances, and they even included me in watching the movie and enjoying the generous refreshments. Yet I still worried about my presence being an imposition.

There was one other mother (of a younger child) who remained while the other children were dropped off, and it was obvious that the child required her assistance.

But it is increasingly unusual that someone of Frances’s age (nine) would have her mother nearby at any social event. 

Unfortunately, as Frances ages, her separation anxiety becomes more debilitating (yet she herself remains untroubled by it). I’m hopeful that her behaviour therapy will help in this regard.