Summer and structure

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!

🙂

Impeccable logic

On this day in 2011, when Frances was merely four-years-and-one-month old, we had the following conversation:

Frances: Why do I have to go to preschool?

Me: Well, it’s to help you be okay spending time away from me when you go to junior kindergarten in September.

Frances: How long is junior kindergarten every day?

Me: Six hours.

Frances: How long is preschool?

Me: Two hours.

Frances: So how can preschool be helping me? It’s not.

Playing at school

Every day, we ask Frances who she played with at school and usually she says that she didn’t play with anyone.

Recently, she told me that she sat in the corner outside at recess time watching the spinning wheels of a toy truck that she was holding.

While she really enjoys watching things spin, she also had nobody to play with at school.

I think I’m going to have to make a pest of myself again and go down to the school at recess times to make sure that Frances is getting the help that she needs.

Among other things, she has trouble knowing when/if someone is being mean or bossy; she has trouble knowing what’s expected of her in improvised play.

I wrote a letter to her teacher last week but have not heard back.

Surely, they can do better than assuming that she just wants to play by herself?

Appreciation 

I know that it’s my job to make sure that Frances knows social rules and to help her make sense of them, but sometimes it is very endearing when she doesn’t remember.

For example, in the car recently, Frances handed her sister some food that she intended to share and then said, “You’re welcome.”

“You have to wait until the person says, ‘Thank you,'” I reminded her.

“Oops. I sometimes get the words confused,” she replied.

She hadn’t said “you’re welcome” sarcastically; the words that she needs in social situations just aren’t always available to her or she confuses words because following the rule hasn’t yet become automatic to her.

At those moments, even though I step in to help, I’m really aware of just how much I appreciate who she is.

A hard day

Yesterday? Yesterday was hard.

I took Frances to school. As we walked past the cubbies, she noticed each one had an invitation to a party. When we got to hers, she discovered that she didn’t have one.

“I don’t have one,” she said as students gathered near her while talking about the exciting party to which they had been invited.

It was getting to be a challenge to tune the other kids out after a while.

“Frances didn’t get an invitation,” I said to the group. “So maybe you should stop talking about the party right beside her?”

They resorted to whispering as I emptied Frances’s school bag.

“Frances isn’t invited because she’s too bossy,” the birthday boy whispered. Frances didn’t overhear, fortunately.

“I rarely get invited to parties,” she said sadly.

The school really discourages the exclusion of children from parties if it’s more than two children being invited.

In this case? All of Frances’s classmates (except for the grade ones) had been invited except her.

After school, she said, “I don’t understand. I thought he was my friend. I’m the only one who doesn’t tease him.”

So, we had a conversation, which included Pink Cup Sister, about how to know if someone’s your friend or not.

Broke. my. heart.

(While I did point out to her that she didn’t invite this particular boy to her party — just a few girls — she then pointed out that she didn’t invite all of her peers except him. I had told her not to talk about her party (which is the school policy) and I emailed the parents of invited kids in order to be discreet. I just wish the boy’s parents had been more discreet.)

Contrast

Frances appears much younger socially than her almost 10 years, but she speaks like a much older child:

Me: How was your day? Was it really, really, really good?

Frances: Moderately.

I’ve read that this isn’t uncommon with ASD.

Saying goodbye

Frances has always struggled with pragmatic language (social language and skills in everyday interactions with others).

Partings for Frances have always been difficult in the sense that, at first, she didn’t know that speaking is necessary when people temporarily part ways. 

Then, after some time, she realized that something needs to be said, but didn’t know what to say. 

For us, for a while, it was good enough that she sensed a need to say something at all because we could slowly introduce her to some parting words. (We didn’t want to constantly correct her and risk damaging her self-confidence.)

But even when she was learning parting words, she still managed to surprise us with her responses.

In the above panel, I wanted to show that, as an ASD parent, there are times when we’ve temporarily accepted as “normal” something that would probably strike others as funny.

As an update: in the three years since the date of the panel when she was six years old, Frances went through a phase of using almost appropriate language. For example, when leaving for school, she would often say to me, “See you tomorrow”. Now, she will often say “goodbye” or “see you later”, if she acknowledges that I’ve said goodbye to her.

Heh heh…

Me: (on phone) I’m so sorry! I slept in. I never sleep in!

Frances: (shouting in the background) Yes, you do. You sleep in ALL THE TIME!

All the while, she is jumping up and down trying to get my attention so that I can realize my mistake…