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Express Yourself

27 Jan

Lately, Maura doesn’t want to get on the school bus. Ironically, I can still get her to school on time most of those days. Because…well…I don’t know.

I don’t know why she doesn’t want to get on the bus, why she’s dragging her feet in the morning, why she is not a fan of it all anymore.

Yes, I asked her. But because her conversation skills are meh, I don’t get a clear answer out of her. I can say “Do you like the bus?” and she’ll say yes. I’ll ask her “Why don’t you want to get on the bus?” and she’ll reply “Nothing.” I know no one is mean to her on the bus – that just wouldn’t be allowed by the bus driver (who is awesome and wonderful.) I’ve wondered if she’s just not quite awake and therefore stubborn about everything – not that ANYONE ELSE in the family is like that. Definitely not me. I wonder if I should wake her earlier, wake her later, greet her with a latte and a power bar, I just don’t know.

And she can’t tell me how to fix this.

So on my list of “things I can’t put on a resume”, before “Untangle a Slinkie” and after “Magically find items that had been lost forever” are the skilsl of “Mind Reader” and “Maura Interpreter”. And Maura has gotten quite used to it. To the point that she will take advantage of it and I have to back off and not be as helpful to sort of force her to communicate for herself. In order to help her, I have to not help her.

Yeah.

But I also have to know when to force the issue. Sometimes, she just can’t – because she is a tween, and tween girls just can’t, it’s the phase before they become teen girls who literally just can’t – so I have to step in and figure things out. Sometimes, she wants to but isn’t able to, so I have to work with her. This means I have to choose my words carefully, repeat things a lot, stop time and just wait for her to catch up. Maura’s processing time is different than the average human’s, and you must respect that. Sometimes, in talking to her, I realize I’m channeling my inner Mr. Rogers. Other times, I sound like I’ve lost my damn mind. Probably because I have. But Maura at least finds that funny, like when I’m dancing around her changing “It’s Friday! It’s Friday! Friday friday FRIDAY!”

Of course, that earns me a laughing “MooOOOooom! Shut up!”

Cheeky monkey.

It’s hard when your child can’t communicate well. It’s hard when they fluctuate between ability levels, so sometimes, they can express exactly what they’re thinking and other times, they just can’t tell you anything, not even by interpretive dance. You have to learn quickly how to adjust the way you express yourself so they can understand, depending on the situation. There’s so much patience involved. Like the day we were at Target, and Maura wanted a fleece blanket with hearts on it.

“Maura, we have that exact blanket at home.”

She glared at me, clutching the blanket.

“No Maura. You have that already. It’s on your bed.”

More glaring.

“You need to put it back.”

“Fine!” I’m pretty sure there was a little eye roll with the glare she sent me.

And you know what? That’s okay. Because she’s listening to me, and allowed her tween girl feelings. Even if I’m being the meanest mom in the world who won’t allow her yet another heart blanket. Just as much as I have to work on my communication with her, she has to be allowed to communicate all the feels to me. Even the outrage or frustration or exasperation. Because that’s part of growing up, learning how to express your feelings in a constructive manner.

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One Response to “Express Yourself”

  1. Janet Evans January 27, 2016 at 12:50 pm #

    Hi Phoebe, I’ve been reading your blog for 12 months or more & can not get over how Maura is exactly like my 12 old autistic daughter Jasmine! From reading Maura’s early years to now, our girls (& us) have lived such parellel lives its slightly scary! (tho relieving too that another mum goes thru the same as me…daily!) However for Jasmine ‘the not wanting to go on the bus to school’ was more to do with stuff happening in school, that we were unaware of until way too late, we’d get the same one word reply ‘nothing’ or ‘shopping’ when she was asked due to limited speech the same as Maura (yet we mums know our girls just can’t find the words to say everything that is going on so end the questioning with an/any answer, ‘shopping’ meaning I want to talk about/do something else). The upshot has been, we’ve had to home-school ever since, as she will not enter any building resembling a school, without physically attacking anyone in reach. We went public in the end with her story back in June 2015 as the school took photographs of her half naked & distraught, with no supporting documentation and the explanation after we saw the photographs in her school file was that they were collecting evidence to prove the provision wasn’t working! (The exact opposite of UK law where a school has to take every reasonable step to make the provision work!) Its taken 3 long years of meeting after meeting with our county council, who are now making changes to provision county wide. However we got our written apology in August last year and as I type, the LA are making educational arrangements with a private care provider to take Jasmine to different venues & classes, with the aim that she can re-enter education full time via colleges rather than school! So please check with the school & ask to see her file as we got paid lip service as what they said to us face to face & wrote in the home school diary i.e. ‘was a bit upset arriving today, settled, went to lunch then wanted to go home’ certainly didn’t match the same dated entry in her file where there was an serious incident report with the reason for meltdown being – wanted to play outside in the rain! The school’s see themselves as the all knowing professionals dealing with Autism, not teachers teaching kids beware! Its usually when we think everything is going ok for a change that we have to extra vigilent & not let things escalate til there’s nothing anyone can do to salvage the situation! Huge hugs & I hope Maura will soon be skipping onto the bus again xxx

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