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.
One aspect of autism spectrum disorder that affects Frances is difficulty with figurative language or words that are not intended to be interpreted literally. As she ages, the difficulty becomes more pronounced but it doesn’t always involve idioms or euphemisms.
We were recently at an event for children with autism, and Frances was describing her proposed birthday theme of dinosaurs. It seemed like a good time for me to join in the conversation.
Me: We can have lots of dinosaurs at your party…
Me: Sorry, images of dinosaurs.
Even though Frances would know intellectually that I did not intend to have dinosaurs at her party, the fact that I omitted “images of” in that sentence immediately left her thinking that I had said something nonsensical to her.
At any rate, in order to help her, I frequently use idioms, euphemisms, similes and metaphors intentionally in order to build her repertoire of non-literal language. Fortunately, there are also social dictionaries that include figurative language entries which may be of use to her as time goes on.
Frances is completely entranced by this show (Brain Games) on Netflix. She wants to watch it before school, after school, and at bedtime, and we have agreed that the show meets our definition of a documentary series.