Shaking my head

Just in case you’re wondering what the Pink Cup Family does on a Saturday afternoon (after returning from the barn), I provide you the following glimpse.

Apparently, we just laze about in the living room discussing things that have little or no relevance to what any of us is actually doing, and Frances’s wit simply thrives in that kind of environment.

For example, though I don’t know how we arrived at this topic, there was this exchange between Pink Cup Sister (16) and myself.

Me: Many people who deal drugs don’t actually do drugs themselves…They’re in it to make money; they know if they get hooked, they won’t make money.

Pink Cup Sister: Are you saying drug dealers are smart?!

Frances: We’re saying they’re a •cut• above. (She is smiling, looking down at her iPad, probably waiting for us to catch up.)

This made me laugh aloud, but how would she know anything about the language of recreational drug use or the hierarchical structure of that kind of activity? She’s twelve! (Well, she does watch reality police and medical shows at night before bedtime.)

I do, oftentimes, catch Frances covering her mouth while silently giggling and walking away; it’s usually because she has detected something that a kid her age wouldn’t normally catch.

It’s a new behaviour this year, and I’m loving it.

I’m not saying that Frances doesn’t have her moments, but this kid is just all kinds of wonderful.

#asd #aspergers #autism

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My apologies

I’ve attempted many blog posts, but something is happening: Frances is growing up and writing about her can be an invasion of privacy.

So, while I find the line between my story and her story, posting will be somewhat sporadic.

In the meantime, she’s still as funny as ever.

We had been watching a YouTube video in which a conversation regarding the limits of our knowledge had suddenly turned rather philosophical.

Frances: That guy confuses me

Me: It means we don’t know what we don’t know… Like, we don’t know that God doesn’t exist, right?

Her: Now you’ve got me thinking. Jesus…

😂

“I’m going through changes…”

It would seem that my posts have slowed down…But, don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned my posting. (Haha, see what I did there?)

Life does get busy here, but I do want to write more often. This is my goal!

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to share something that I’ve just noticed and which I think is cute: At the barn, there’s a policy/tradition/point of etiquette that, before opening an arena door, the person seeking entrance will loudly say, “door” and someone else will say “okay” or “no” in response.

(This avoids startling the horses and riders and also avoids someone getting run over by a cantering horse that’s really riding the rails. But that’s not the cute part; I digress.)

Recently, I’ve noticed that, before entering a room at home, Frances will knock and say “door” loudly; if she doesn’t hear “no”, she’ll go in.

It’s probably a good idea. 🤔 But I do believe that I will have to think about a way to encourage her to not open the door unless she hears “okay.” That would be more helpful for her.

I’ve also noticed a really very significant change: Frances, who has now turned twelve, will play outside! For hours!! By HERSELF!! This is absolutely huge — the trifecta that we’d long wondered about, waiting to see if it would happen — and I just can’t adequately express it.

Yay, Frances!!

#asd #aspergers #autism

All lined up

Lining Up
You can see everything you have, and it’s all in order

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.

She did ask for 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.

Frances speaks her mind...
Only ask if you really want the truth…

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.)

😂

Trauma bay?

Since she was three years old, Frances has had an intense interest in all things medical 🏥. It shows up everywhere, especially at 11 years old.

The other day during March break, Frances announced, as she typically does (literally) in passing, what was on her mind:

“Mum, if someone were saying, ‘I can’t feel my face when I’m with you’ to me, I would say, ‘Stroke! You’re having a STROKE!’” 😂

Yes, one of the benefits of having a child who focusses so intensely on her subjects of interest is that you are fortunate enough to suddenly find yourself in the most entertaining (as well as enlightening) of conversations.

Recently, I was discussing with someone an event that had occurred while I was hospitalised last autumn and described the cautiousness that my care team had demonstrated regarding some cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary symptoms. Frances couldn’t help herself, she interrupted because she just had to know:

Did they give you TPA?

No…

Did you hear, “Code Blue” over the loudspeaker?

No…

Did anyone say, “Everyone to the resuscitation bay!”

No… (LOL)

She speaks now of becoming a surgeon which, I’ve told her, would probably allow her to continue her equestrian ambitions.

On Valentine’s Day

I almost let a holiday go by without mentioning my inimitable 11-year-old’s reaction to it this year.

Frances: There’s too much “love” involved — and happiness. And pink. Blech.

This is a first. She used to enjoy Valentine’s Day (although it was probably access to the candy, now that I think about it).

I can’t wait to see what she says tomorrow… It’s my birthday. 😬

Disbelief

This past weekend at Grandma’s birthday party, Grandma and her sons were trying to find a vase for the flowers we’d bought her.

Frances, focussing on her iPad, muttered, “God, don’t these people have a sense of depth?”

I leaned over and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean, can they not look at the flowers and look at a vase and predict with some accuracy that the flowers will fit or will not fit the vase?”

😂 Sometimes, I wonder how it is that I don’t choke because she says the funniest things when I happen to be eating.

Let me be clear: Frances is not being mean; she’s being honest — at a time when most people wouldn’t be — without a stitch of malice.

Hands down, it was the best comment of the evening — and, even though she definitely has to learn not to express these thoughts, her cleverness made me proud.

Yes, I do have to teach her that saying these things aloud isn’t okay, but convincing her lately has become so very difficult.

I have to do it for each instance, too, because she usually wouldn’t generalise.

“We have to keep that as an ‘inside thought’,” I usually say.

“Why? Why can’t I say this?”

“Because it hurts people’s feelings.”

“That’s silly. It’s just an observation…”

And so it goes. Lots of conversation about why we’re having the conversation. So, dear readers, this area of things doesn’t necessarily get easier, but it does become funnier! (At least in our case.)

Purposeful activity…

I have to do a lot of convincing to get Frances on board with the idea of going to social groups. Usually, she will say things like, “I don’t mind groups; I just don’t like the people.” Though it sounds funny to us, she is quite serious.

She always has at least one group ongoing.

Of this group, the one that she has been going to weekly for several years, she says that she doesn’t like the people or the activities. We actually don’t give her the option of not attending. At this point, opportunities to socialize are opportunities to learn and to hone developing skills.

Also, at least once per year, her name comes to the top of the waiting list for a social group at the local children’s hospital (whose primary focus appears to be autism and ASD).

This year, the interventionists of the upcoming session asked if they could interview Frances on her own to determine her suitability for a group that starts this week.

I explained that she probably wouldn’t agree to an interview without me present and that the prospect of joining a group would not motivate her to be independent in this respect.

So, I had permission to be in the room while the interview was conducted. Her answers were not entirely predictable: she thought she had some friends (she doesn’t say this consistently), she liked to be on her own during recesses and lunch (she didn’t mention that she doesn’t know how to not be alone at these times), and she didn’t find this kind of group very helpful at any rate.

Near the end of the session, she truthfully said, “I’m really not much of a people person.”

Now, I completely understand this: she says it more often these days, and I believe her.

As clever and as smart as she is, however, she doesn’t believe Pink Cup Dad or myself when we tell her that social groups develop her social skills, that when she starts practicing and using her social skills she may enjoy interacting with people more than she does at the moment.

The reasoning behind development of these groups is that, as kids take social risks and interact, there are professionals on hand to intervene in order to start interactions, sustain interactions, and even end interactions. The children learn about cues and how to read them. They learn about what subjects are typically okay to discuss in different situations.

Personally, I like the groups even though it’s a struggle to get her to go; and, in this case, the parents will have their own concurrent group, too, which is a new development in the programming.

I jumped in at the end of the interview only to ask Frances if she had any questions for her interviewer about, perhaps, group size, the attendees, the activities or the expectations.

I also reminded her that there are times when she feels very lonely and that, perhaps, she could learn how to be less lonely by joining this one group.

I think that’s what did it; when asked a third time, she said she would give it a try. Yay!

The only downside is that this will mean that our time, from Tuesday to Saturday, will be busy: private group on Tuesday, horse riding lessons on Wednesday, hospital groups on Thursday, violin and flute lessons on Friday, and volunteering at the barn on Saturday. (She starts violin lessons on Friday just before her sister’s flute lesson.)

I’m actually starting to consider Monday to be a break! Except, of course, throughout the day during the week, there are appointments — one or two per day — that keep the girls and myself busy.

But it’s all good — it means someone (either Frances, Pink Cup Sister, myself, or, rarely, Pink Cup Dad) has access to a resource from which she or he will likely benefit.