Saturday, 6. July 2013 14:58
Ellie’s not aware she’s on the Autism spectrum yet. Frankly, there are brief moments when I forget. Sometimes that’s nice and sometimes that bites me in the ass. I’m expecting more from Ellie and challenging her socially. She can do it and it’s my job to help her. I’m patient with her most of the time. But, I can do better.
Social situations are anxiety-producing for Ellie. From the time she was nearly newborn, being only with me away from people has been her source of comfort. Perseverating is a way for her to handle stress and bringing me into that helps her not feel isolated. When I put a time limit on the perseverating (may it be a memory she wants to retell, a story she’s creating, methods of handling social situations, or the welfare of an insect), it often ends with her going to her room in a huff of anxiety. This is a big improvement from melt-down central, however, it can be emotionally draining. I can do better.
I’ve learned to predict these situations with the precision of a special ops agent. And, in handling them, I’ve learned how to mentally prepare and charge myself. I didn’t do that with as much grace and patience I’d hoped during a get-together last night with neighbors we’ve known for five years. It was a time I was wishing to just ease back and enjoy, especially since we were at our house. I can do better.
The night ended as it so often does. Ellie goes to her room when she’s had enough and doesn’t say goodbye. That part, I’m okay with. I understand it can be overwhelming. It’s the working through things when all has settled that is the roller coaster. I geared up. I was prepared for the storm of emotions. I knocked on her door and heard her tiny voice wish me in. She was sitting on her floor writing. She looked up at me with a big smile to show me what she had been working on. It was her name in beautiful block letters in the middle with phrases of things she likes about herself surrounding it. Things like, “I’m good. I’m prite. I love you. I will always rumembur you. You are funee.”
When I told her everyone had gone, she said, “Whew! What a relief!” with a SMILE. A SMILE. Then she walked out to hang her picture on the fridge. I stood motionless and speechless. She returned to her room and I came to my senses to let her know how great it was that she could take a break and do something that made her happy. Then, my amazing, five-year-old girl told me this:
“It’s really scary to me when people come over. Don’t you think it’s scary? It’s loud. I don’t know what to do. People confuse me and I actually feel like they’re from some place else. Like the woods. Grown ups are easier than kids. I can’t tell if they like me though. It seems like they want me to take care of them but I don’t know how.”
When it was a time for me to rise above, it was my girl who did better.