Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Non-uniform days and nervous breakdowns!
After discussing with some friends on Twitter about the importance of routines for children on the autistic spectrum, thought I'd share my experience of how a change in routine last week almost sparked another world war and had me wanting to empty a bottle of vino, all before 7am!
FD's school, as a special treat, decided to take the class to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter Movie. Cinema for FD can sometimes bring its own stresses as she finds the noise a bit much (hence pink fluffy ear muffs) and to be honest sometimes has trouble following a story line. However, this gradually over the years has improved and she doesn't usually mind the cinema as much as she used too. However, this was combined with the day being a Non Uniform day. Disaster loomed like a big angry snow filled cloud!
From the night before the trip to the cinema, I could sense FD was stressed. I think it was the growling and throwing things round her room which drew my attention to it! The growling is one thing that gets on my nerves more than I can say! Its like our pet dog had come from beyond the grave! I'm waiting for FD to bark at me soon! As I was going into her room I kept repeating to myself, in my head of course, 'stay calm'.
FD totally hates the Non-Uniform days. Her argument being 'I don't go to school to be fashionable'! I can see her point of course. The choosing of the appropriate outfit for the following day was like a scene from Benny Hill! There was the two of us chasing each other round the room, trying to compromise on clothes! Meanwhile, the clothes mountain that lay on the floor like a big tease! FD had been bought some beautiful new clothes for Christmas. But, she only wanted the grubbiest, washed out clothes she could find! It didn't matter that a top was so small it would only fit her teddy bear! Or that another top had a big greasy stain on it! FD wanted to wear it! An uneasy truce was called and I compromised on jeans and a top she could wear. and she agreed that a summer top was not a good idea in January! However, I made one fatal error..........I didn't get her to try the outfit on first.
So, the following morning at 7am she came bouncing downstairs to show me how she looked. To my horror I realised the top 'we' had chose no longer fitted her and had a big stain down the front. FD felt it looked ok and refused to change. Like every mummy I want my child to look her best so I was not a happy bunny! After 20 minutes of persuasion to change did not have any effect and the school bus was due to leave in 10 minutes, I 'told' her she was getting changed. My own advice about 'some battles not worth fighting' went up in smoke! My nerves were shattered by this point, I was exhausted and ready to scream! So, on went a lovely grey jumper she got at Christmas. Success appeared on the horizon and I wanted to do a victory dance as we were heading out the front door! However, one foot outside and FD decided that although this grey jumper was lovely, she wanted to wear 'the other grey jumper'! Because I wanted her to feel comfortable with how she looked, and the fact that I was too tired to fight any more, I gave in. I dragged her into the hall and pulled the grey jumper off faster than a cat up a tree! It was quickly replaced with the other grey jumper and away we went!
Once FD had gone to school, I put my wine back in the fridge and sat down with my weetabix and thought about FD's reasons for picking the most horrible clothes she could find. (she always has a collection of these clothes because she sneaks them out of the charity bags and hides them in her room!) I think FD feels that if she looks sooooo different from how she normally looks at school or is wearing something really beautiful, then people will comment on how she is looking. That of course makes her, to a certain extent, the centre of someones attention. The old, ill-fitting and grubby clothes, are for FD, a form of camoflague. Its how she blends into the background. When you think about it, this is very sad. It made me cry a little. How sad that so many people with ASD hide themselves as they do not possess the necessary social skills for every day life, so its easier to 'hide away'. As a parent it is my job to manage this for my daughter more effectively and take the time to build her confidence and give her the necessary tools to manage in every day life. She needs her own superwoman big knickers! She is wonderful and deserves to be part of the world! I just need the world to be a little more understanding. Oh and if the school could stop having Non Uniform days that would be fab too! Cheers!