For so many years, as is often the case in families affected by ASD, our autism sibling has been more independent as her sister’s needs have been addressed. It has been as if she is on the Frances Show where it’s all Frances all the time.
This has recently changed, and both she and Frances are adjusting rather well to the change in family dynamics.
We have discovered that Pink Cup Sister has special needs as well — though not the same as those of Frances — and she has been receiving the lion’s share of attention recently.
How has Frances coped in situations in which I can’t pay her as much attention? She’s done really well. She doesn’t usually leave my side, but she will give us privacy when Pink Cup Sister, Pink Cup Dad and I have to speak of matters personal.
This isn’t to say that we’re not still working on goals with Frances, too: she struggles with issues of food, coordination when dressing, following sequences without verbal prompts, communicating when she feels unsafe at school and a host of other issues that would fall under the “social” category.
Recently, I was saddened and surprised to learn that a child in her classroom isn’t very patient where Frances’s interest in horses is concerned.
Now, as is sometimes the case with ASD, my daughter’s interest is all-consuming, and she will speak about horses frequently because that is the means by which she has discovered that she can relate to others.
The other child will frequently challenge Frances on horse facts and tell her that horses are weird, etc. He’ll say anything to bother her.
I’ve learned that another boy sticks up for Frances and refuses to let the mean boy’s behaviour go unchecked.
I think she’s had enough though this week: she tells me that she had the “perfect storm” for a meltdown when loud noise, too many people, too much movement and the mean boy’s comments combined and caused her to be overstimulated. She cried uncontrollably, and her wonderful teacher helped her through the episode.
The teacher did inform me that the boy is, in fact, being mean to Frances, and that she is keeping them well separated to avoid any more conflict.
There was also a change in her schedule that probably contributed to her meltdown, too: her father was away on business for the week.
Let’s just say that it has been a long week for all of us.
I’m so glad that it’s Friday. Yay, Friday!
Like many children with ASD, Frances has a severely restricted range of foods that she will eat.
I have to explain: there are several foods that she will eat in general, including vegetables, but, in a single week, she will focus only on one or two foods. (She also won’t eat food that is soft or food that is at room temperature or combination foods such as sandwiches, soups, pizza, etc. Food served must appear the same way that it has always appeared or it’s “not the same” and she won’t eat it.) Meltdowns at meals are inevitable even when the food options and appearance are acceptable, and we’ve accepted this as being just the way it is.
Anyway, this week’s appointment with the occupational therapist pretty much consisted of me telling her that we didn’t stick to the food plan that she had devised. We were supposed to make it so that Frances couldn’t eat the same food within a three-day period.
Yikes, that schedule didn’t go well. First, it represents change for which Frances has a low tolerance in general; secondly, we went on vacation and food sources were restricted mostly to restaurants. We did have a two-bedroom apartment for the duration, but our plan of buying groceries and eating in wasn’t as practical as we had anticipated that it would be.
Also, with the disruption of routines that vacations bring, we didn’t want to add to this stress by forcing a change in her eating at that point.
Now, this week, we are home, she is settled at school as well as in her social group, piano lessons, and horse riding lessons, and we are trying again.
I can say for certain that it isn’t “just picky eating”, and she really won’t eat anything if she gets hungry enough. She just won’t eat. So, a strict schedule involving foods that we know that she will eat is definitely the only path to take.
In contrast, Pink Cup Sister IS a picky eater. The difference is that there is no pattern to what she will or what she will not eat. She simply likes something or does not like it, and she is hard-pressed to tell you why either way: it tastes good to her or it does not. She also will attempt to eat what she doesn’t like if she’s hungry.
But, with Frances, it is hard work getting her to eat what she needs. It’s certainly in her best interests to keep trying and making sure that she has whatever supplements that she requires. There just isn’t much left in her range of acceptable foods after ruling out softness, room temperature, combinations, and differences in appearance.
Fortunately, Frances is very good at achieving goals, and I’ll help her do this, too.
She’s such a gentle soul that I always want to tread softly over ground that is difficult for her.
Frances has started Grade 5 now with guarded enthusiasm. She is receiving homework for the first time and isn’t too happy about this turn of events.
I think she’ll settle in — we just have to get her into a routine of doing homework.
Routines are good for us. 🙂
Frances has been playing with light since she was 9 months old. She would often grab my booklight and look at it with a big smile on her face!
Over the years, she has developed many different ways of interacting with light and light-emitting toys.
One thing that she still loves to do is to turn switches on and off very rapidly over and over again.
Like many behaviours, this one has disappeared and reappeared several times.
We discourage it (for safety reasons) with explanations and distractions–other means of light play available to her are harmless.
But as long as she can play with light, she is happy!
Frances needs structure — lots of it. In the past, summers have been very difficult for her for this reason.
So, school has ended for the summer break, and we have encountered a little difficulty in this regard: we had signed Frances up for a summer filled with day camp through her school; unfortunately, the school has cancelled the camp!
We’re down to four weeks of day camp from 10 weeks, and the deadlines for other camps have long since passed.
If I can get her interested, I thought reading Anne of Green Gables to her might help with her need for structure. There are many kinds of crafts or art that can be done with that theme in mind.
I’m definitely open to suggestions for helping to keep her time structured!