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.