Friday, January 20, 2012

Objects of Comfort

Children are resilient, everyone says. They bounce back from anything! Take Little A, who fell and fractured his skull in two places and didn't even need a bandage or stitches, just a few weeks of rest. The thing is, not all scars are visible from the outside.

After The Great Fall, Little A refused to go anywhere without his shoes on. They had to be on his feet at all times, even when he slept. (They are propped up on a chair or on the floor just off the bed). He would wake up if we tried to removed them in the night or mid-nap. Bathtime involved plenty of screaming, the fastest washes in history (shoes right next to the tub, in his line of sight at all times), and the shoes were back on his feet before they were barely dry, with the rest of him still dripping.

There was a time when we couldn't get Little A to wear shoes at all. He hated them, and took them off at every opportunity, leaving them on the floor in shopping centres and restaurants and running off barefoot. His classrooms and most homes we visited required leaving shoes at the door, so possibly he really didn't see any point in having to wear them.

We got him to accept them, finally, when my Mum bought him a very soft pair that made feet feel as though they were walking on pillows. Since then he's only wanted that pair, and we've gone up three sizes and several colours in the same style. We've been working on weaning him away and trying different pairs, but with limited success.

The aftermath of the Great Fall had them glued to his feet. We're not quite sure why - maybe because he fell at school without his shoes on and associated bare feet with being hurt. Maybe because he was made to stay overnight at the hospital and couldn't leave the room without his shoes on, and they were hidden away while was sedated and strapped to a hospital bed.

At any rate, the New Therapist and the New Shadow got him to wear slippers in the classroom. With a great deal of whining, crying and resistance, but they insisted, and thankfully after a few weeks of constant shoe wearing, he has now accepted that shoes are "only for wearing when we go outside." He's back to taking them off at home and in the classroom, but now keeps them on when we're at the mall or out and about. I hope he's over his post-fall trauma, and that there are no other scars to deal with.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Love, Hate

Two sides of the same coin. With a knife edge in between. What fine balance is required to keep from tipping from one side to another!

Children are funny that way. One day they love something, the next day they hate it. More so with autistic children, who tend to get fixated with certain routines and rituals.

Little A used to just allow me to put on any clothes (apart from scratchy ones like denim) on him without really caring what they looked like. He'd look at the pattern on his t-shirt in the mirror afterwards, but only to see what it was he was wearing that day.

A couple of months ago, he started to complain and take his clothes off when we dressed him for school, and then go into his drawers and find the ones he wanted to wear. So we now have certain t-shirts that are worn over and over again, and lately he has shown a preference for grey - grey shorts, grey shirts, grey underwear.

While I know all children go through this clothes-choosing stage, I do want to get the other, non-preferred ite,ms, in rotation as well so we're now operating on a "You pick your top, Mummy picks your bottoms" or vice-versa. Today will be day two. Fingers crossed.

Then there's the school issue. First Little A hated it. Screaming, crying, refusing to let me leave his side. Then he grew to love it - pushing me out the door as soon as he walked into the classroom and refusing to go home when I picked him up. But after the Great Fall and Christmas holidays and now with new Shadow Teachers, he hated it again.

The first week was a flashback to two years ago - I had to sit next to him in the classroom, he clutched my hand tightly in his own while the other one paged through the book or played with the toy I'd handed him. He would cry when I moved further away to stand first near, then at, then outside the door, inching slowly down the corridor. My heart broke all over again leaving him there.

Thankfully he has adjusted quickly. The New Shadows, at their exorbitant rate, costing more per hour than the Old Shadow did per day, have track records to justify their prices, and I have to admit that they seem, so far, to be working. Two weeks later, Little A was less needy of having me with him in the classroom, more ready to be left alone. Again, fingers crossed.

We've set a parent-teacher-therapist conference for the last day of January. I have a program outlined based on Little A's age and IEP. We're in the crucial stretch now, the last year before he goes to "big" school. And we've got a way to go yet to get him ready. My sole wish for 2012 is that we succeed.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another New Year

Little A spent about a week recovering from The Great Fall. He walked slowly, did not run or jump, sat down while watching tv (instead of jumping and bouncing as he usually does), and stayed in the school library while his classmates were in the romp area.

He went back to school the Monday after the fall, just in time for the class Christmas party and Nativity play. While the rest of the class had speaking roles, Little A just had a walk-on part as a shepherd, complete with rolled up and painted paper staff. He stood at his place and did some of the choreography, making us very proud.

By this time, he was feeling better. Walking became trotting, with the occasional gallop before he was stopped. Little bounces began, though he stayed off the trampoline at therapy and did not attempt full scale jumps (bed to floor, couch to floor) for another couple of weeks.

I was in full Christmas mode by this time - barely sleeping, in a gift-wrapping frenzy (both at home and at work), chasing down suppliers and frantically trying to squeeze in present finding and buying in between. My waking hours were spent typing up sales reports and balancing ledgers.

Before we knew it, the Big Days arrived. Christmas Eve. Traditional dinner and present opening at my parents' place with the entire extended family. Followed by Christmas Eve - another dinner with Big A's family. Two weeks of school holidays, during which time Little A enjoyed twice-daily long walks. And then a week when the Au Pair went home for her holidays. Family bonding time. A quiet New Year's Eve with my sister's family and my parents, watching fireworks from the windows.

Then it was time to begin the routine again - albeit with a few more changes besides the date. I asked Little A if he was ready to go back to school and every time was answered with definite shaking of his head. This meant trouble in early 2012. Cheers, all!