Sunday, 30 October 2011
Park yer broomstick and go away!
Oh hell its that time of year again! Halloween! The time of year when other people's annoying children come to your door at least a million times begging for sweets. Its that time of year when teens chance their luck and come to your door begging for money! Do they honestly think that pulling their coat hoods up and shouting trick or treat will impress me? Well it doesn't! Now I know I sound like a 70 year old post menopausal moan but I'm not honest! Halloween for us causes a huge amount of stress. FD hates it! She gets very stressed about the whole expectation that she will have to get dressed up. She gets a little nervy about fireworks and just generally has a meltdown about the whole thing! Of course, she can also be completely contradictory and insist on decorating the whole house to look like something from the Amityville Horror! No one said autism had any strict and set in stone rules! I swear living with an autistic child is like living with a fortune cookie. You just never know what the hell you are gonna get!
So, this year we have been trying to play it all very low key. However, my bosses husband decided to put a spanner in the works by organising a surprise 50th party for his wife........on the Halloween weekend! I mean nooooooooooooo!!!! what is he thinking!? I couldn't go to a party and leave FD with her brother when there was the potential for her to go into mega meltdown! But on the other hand, I really wanted a night out! Oh decisions, decisions! So we decided that the best option would be to bring FD with us! It wasn't going to be a huge drunken affair and there were going to be other kids there too so I felt it was appropriate. Plus it would mean that I had to behave, not get drunk and fall through the front door at 3am! Not that I've ever done that! (nose growing to Pinocchio size proportions here!)
Bringing FD to a party was not straightforward however. We told her a few days in advance that we were all going to a party in order to fully prepare her. She seemed ok about it all until about 2 hours before we were due to go. I tried to help her pick an outfit to wear. I assured her there would be no dressing up and she should just wear something nice. She has an entire wardrobe full of beautiful pretty girlie clothes. The choosing of a suitable outfit caused a mega meltodwn for her however! She did not want to wear any of her pretty clothes because that would mean that someone might tell her she looks nice, thus putting her into the centre of attention which she doesn't want! So, the whole clothes issue resulted in meltdown with FD punching herself in the face and pulling her hair. Once I assured her she could just pick whatever she wanted to wear she opted for jeans, trainers, a tee shirt and a hoodie!
Next meltdown was caused by the fact that my bosses daughter was going to be at the party. She is a year older than FD. FD was worried about what she would say to a 14 year old. She asked me what did 14 year olds like to talk about. How would she answer any questions this girl had. What if she didn't understand her? I told her that they liked to talk about the same things her other friends at school or youth club talked about. But FD stated, 'but all my friends are like me. They have a learning disability or have autism and I am happy when I talk to them.' Oh dear. Last year I had set out to try and build up a network of non learning disabled friends for my daughter because I knew that sooner or later she would be facing a big old world that was not as protected as the one she was used to. However, due to her health issues and problems with her old school it all fell by the wayside as we were conscious of overloading her. However, now, here she was telling me in a round about way how the outside world and the people in it frightened her! I'd always know that those on the Spectrum struggled day in and day out with social interaction but it was the first time my daughter had actually vocalised her worries. It did bring a lump to my throat. After lots of reassurance, she agreed to get ready for the party.
So, off we went! Thankfully when we arrived we spotted a friend who was, like my daughter horsey mad so she chatted to FD to put her at ease. We hung about in the kitchen for a while so that FD could get used to some of the new faces. However, after a while she soon moved into the living room and played on the Wii with my bosses son. She had no clue what she was supposed to do but didn't go mad when I left the room. She even ate some food which is great as we are struggling to get her to eat much at the moment. As for the other teen girl there, FD soon relaxed and enjoyed the interaction. Thankfully this other girl is aware of FD's needs and has offered to take her to the cinema some time which is great. She's a very mature young lady and I was thankful she was so natural with FD. It was all going swimmingly until............my friend arrived wearing a witches costume! No idea why cos it wasn't a fancy dress party but she decided just to dress up for a bit of fun! She's a mentalist! Poor FD didn't know what to make of this mad woman bounding through the front door in a witches dress and green makeup! Thankfully she stayed calm and in the end thought she was quite funny. She did keep asking me however if I was going to go and buy a similar dress!
All in all the night was a success. FD coped remarkably well at the party and was happy to sit with some of my work colleagues and chat to them or simply sit and listen to the conversations going on around her. At times she did talk and talk non-stop and I could see some people start to glaze over. I wanted to scream 'welcome to my world'! She talked nonsense the whole way home in the car and was still chattering at 3am, despite being put to bed at midnight! We are having our own little, low key halloween party at home on 31st October. There won't be any dressing up and we might hide from anyone coming to the door. But FD will be happy and so will I!