When I look back on my journey with my own daughters, what we are most proud of is that my middle child has always been happy in spite of her challenges; she is highly accepted and most loved as the person she is today (by our entire family).
We are not on a mission to change her; we are all about more positive outcomes and her quality of life!
We are all in this together! We have discovered that slow progress is GREAT, and truly there is progress and learning taking place that you don’t even realize until later on; I promise you this is the case! Never underestimate any individual and their potential. They can live a happy and full life too!
What has truly been a lifesaver for us, in understanding the person who Rebecca really is and discovering her strengths and her (wavering and ever-changing) ongoing needs, is to understand how very driven by sensory processing she is.
We just had to figure out what those needs may be, and to cater to them, from a sensory integration perspective.
This is a process of trial and error, but it has been the way to a more harmonious life; a life with much less anxiety, far less meltdowns, less self-injurious behaviours, and hopefully zero trauma and distress.
Remote schooling started disastrously as she would have frequent meltdowns by the front door, verbally stimming about her distress at a school bus that was never arriving each morning. She was literally pulling her hair out as harmless hair-twirling had stepped over that edge into highly anxious and self-injurious behaviour.
It was utterly heartbreaking and exhausting for all concerned.
We didn’t know how we would get through lockdown.
My daughter is a girl on the move!
She loves to potter around with her bags of hair accessories, bracelets and other small items. She loves to play on floors and move from room to room. She truly wants to be outside most of the time!
She is not a child who naturally sits at a table for any length of time for any activity, not even for mealtimes, let alone a remote class lesson.
She is very much driven by a love and a need for movement, sound, music, people, pressure and force. She has always been a girl on a move, a person so very comfortable out and about; a fan of crowds and people-watching, and participation too. She’s a true extrovert who is thrilled to be out in the world (and someone who wishes to be included in ways which work for her – she knows!)
The hardest thing for her has truly been the requirements of lockdown times and the losses of amusement parks, Easter parades, Santa Claus parades, our crowded downtown mall (even on Santa Claus parade day 😃), school outings, and in-person school itself (due to our lockdowns, of course).
She just lives for the hustle and bustle of city life, a crowded beach, an amusement park with so many people to observe, and so on….This is what makes her tick! This is what makes her happy.
She is drawn to others. Her most admirable qualities are her confidence to be exactly who she is. She is NOT a homebody!!!
She seeks out people and even loves looking at herself, lol! She loves being on camera and watching herself and her family in videos.
She is that kid who you would have to hold back from getting up on any stage at any musical events etc – a fearless extreme social butterfly, and there’s so much beauty in these strengths she possesses.
The key here is that Rebecca is given the choice of a variety of sensory “tools” and the control to find out what helps her; it is a collaborative effort.
It is teamwork between herself, family, and consultation with sensory integration experts, occupational therapists who are highly knowledgeable in autism and motivated to work WITH her, in understanding what motivates her from a sensory perspective.
In addition, I collaborated with a behaviour expert in order to help create more structure and routine. We even added more visuals again in order to create a more predictable environment at home; by coming closer to mimicking the structure and routine of school, everything improved immensely for her.
I also structured in walks to parks and beaches, people-watching, dog-watching, feeding the birds, essential shopping trips, and so on, into her schedule. We stuck to certain times of day as much as possible (weather and social distancing permitting). This predictability worked wonders.
This has been life-changing, and I don’t say this lightly.
As challenged as Rebecca is by the tough developmental things that come with her ASD diagnosis, the combined type of ADHD has been so very hard for her too.
It’s like her own personal tug-of-war gong on inside of her which is witnessed for all of us who love her at home. The most heartbreaking side is the level of adjustments required by her in order to meet the expectations and requirements of others – again, I repeat, truly the systems don’t see that it should be the other way round!
She is perfect as she is! She is here to teach us that it is perfectly okay to not fit into the neat little boxes!
She challenges all of that and I truly love her fearlessness to be herself – always consistent, always in touch with her own mind and her own needs; no games, no manipulations, just an awesomeness and honesty she carries around and projects onto others 24/7.
Please trust in your instincts, trust in the process and the reputable information and tools that are here to help. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.
I am happy to share what worked for us, and I am so happy to be in a position to collaborate with companies who share the same values as I do.
Please join me in welcoming another local company to the “Autism Supermoms” family! Welcome @Sensi_child. 💙
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