Saturday, 25 April 2015

PDA kicked my butt this week.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) has kicked our butts this week.

Dominik has been more challenging this week than he has been for a long while.

Every single request, from asking him to being me an empty juice cup, to encouraging him to come out to the woods for an afternoon with us (more on this below), has met with outright refusal.

He is entrenched in his gaming world and is not interested in leaving it for any reason. Unless of course you count going into town to buy another game! That he did with no problem whatsoever and it went really well, in fact, it was a lot of fun.

That is what grates more than anything else. The fact that when he wants to participate in life, things are great. If Dominik wants to be a part of our world he is a delight. He is the spoke at the centre of the wheel. He is the determining factor in every situation. You have to admire someone who can exert that amount of control, no matter what the reason.

But, let's not forget that even if he does really want to do something, the transitioning is always tough. Getting him dressed and into the car is invariably lengthy and anxiety provoking (for all of us, not just Dominik). More often than not, the little ones stay out his way lest he lose control of himself and lash out. He is impatient and nervous once out of the house and prior to reaching his destination. He is in full blown 'I must control everything mode' until we get where we are going. He will ban everyone from talking in the car. He will decide whether or not the radio is on and if it is, how loud it will be. He will choose if the windows or the sunroof are open and if so, how far open. He will choose if you can drink your drink, eat your snack, play on your tablet etc etc.

It is exhausting and this week, it really has been.

Nothing has really worked in terms of distraction/persuasion. Sigh. I have lots of tools in my kit for dealing with/helping/encouraging/supporting Dominik, but this week, none of them have been enough.

We went to the woods yesterday to meet with a delightful family. We have just begun forging a new friendship and my little ones really seem to like them all a lot. Excellent.

Well, Dominik tried his best to control the situation to the nth degree and this resulted in him hitting their son (leading to him having his own meltdown and disappearing into the woods for an hour causing all sorts of new problems).

Dominik had only come because he had bargained with me to sleep downstairs the previous night. He had asked to stay downstairs and said that he would come to the woods with us if he was allowed to. I agreed.

He dressed without issue and left the house with nothing more than the ordinary drama described above.

We arrived at the woods on time (yay) and Dominik immediately asked me if he could go home in a taxi. I said no and he asked if he could stay in the car. I said no. He began throwing pine cones and sticks around so I subtly manoeuvred the little ones out of the way and we investigated the nearby woods whilst we waited for our friends to arrive.

They arrived and Dominik made his feeling known straight away, no doubt making everyone feel awkward. He walked with the adults and let the little ones go and play. He seemed ok. He said he was hungry and thirsty (we had had lunch before we left the house) and that he was bored but he kept walking. Pretty successful so far all things considered.

We eventually caught sight of the little ones ones and Dominik went running over to join in with them. Excellent I thought.

And then disaster. Upon running into a copse of bushes and fallen trees to find their base, he tripped and fell, pushing over the other little boy and grazing his own arm and leg in the process. Disaster. Dominik was screaming, the other little boy was screaming and they were both blaming eachother for the mishap. The other little boy (being on the spectrum also) thought that Dominik had pushed him over on purpose and shouted at him. This upset Dominik even more as he was not only physically hurt, but his pride was damaged and now he was being accused of doing something that he did not do. This combination of events is trouble.

Dominik is now inconsolable and insists on walking back to the car to wait for us to finish our walk and for the little ones to finish playing their game.

The little ones keep playing and don't really seem to notice his absence. Even the little boy he tripped onto seems to have recovered. Phew I think, we just need to make our way back to the car and we'll get home.

We arrive back at the car and Dominik is sitting there on a bench looking perfectly calm and ready to leave.

He wasn't. He ran over to the other little boy and thumped him. No warning. No words. Just a thump. And then he said, "That's for saying I pushed you over on purpose."

He was hurt and aggrieved that he had been accused of something he didn't do and I should have known that he wouldn't ignore that. I missed the signs and someone not only got hurt, but it caused untold stress and danger to another family.

It was not a good trip. I still feel horribly guilty this morning (hence my need to 'confess' to you all here I guess).

Everything turned out all right in the end. No one was badly hurt and I have been reminded to be more vigilant and to just let Dominik sit in the car if that is what he wants to do and even if it seems wrong. I must be flexible because he can't be.

Next time will be better,

Thanks for reading.

N x

Saturday, 18 April 2015

What I had lost.

The weather seems to be turning and that means lots more time out of the house and a good reason not to give in to my slightly OCD tendencies with regard to house work and tidiness. Bring on the fresh air!

I was warned repeatedly (by well-meaning friends) prior to Harriet being born, that life would be harder and more complicated once she was with us and that I had better 'lower my expectations' and get used to not being able to do things quite as easily as we once did (as if it was ever easy anyway I thought).

Well, I am pleased to report that life is not harder and more complicated at all. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. Harriet has brought with her a calm and peaceful rhythm which has permeated each and every one of us, neurotypical and autistic alike.

Over the past couple of weeks we have all been to the following places as a five-some and all the trips, whilst not being completely uneventful, have been a lot of fun and remarkably easy to manage.

KidsWorld (indoor soft play)
Ampthill Park (for a lovely picnic, during the Easter holidays)
LaserWorld (indoor team shooting game)
The American Diner

Once upon a time I would have been far too nervous to attempt these trips by myself, with my three high-maintenance children in such a short time frame, but since the birth of Harriet, I once again feel full of confidence and, well, joy, I guess.

I realise now that these qualities were leaving me.

As I struggled to maintain some semblance of 'normality' I was slowly losing my joy, and my confidence was long gone! (I think that left me when Dominik was born truth be told, and when everything I had read about being a parent was completely false, I felt depressed and demoralised). I'm not sure if I had, until now at least, ever fully recovered. I think I got used to feeling like a failure and as a result I lowered my expectations for myself and for my children.

I would not go so far as to say I was depressed, because I have been depressed in the past and these past ten years have not felt like that, but I have certainly been losing sight of myself and what really makes me happy.

I am pleased to say that Harriet's arrival has brought with it a renewed love for my life. Instead of lowering my expectations as I was continually advised to do, I should have in fact raised them.

I truly want to be the best that I can be. I want to show my children what is important when it comes to living a full life. Is it really a clean house? Wardrobes full of expensive clothes? Flashy cars? Knowing your times tables or being able to define a verb or the pluperfect tense? I don't think it is.

I think life is for living and for enjoying and that is exactly what we have all been doing with baby Harriet. She is a precious, precious gift for which I am immeasurably grateful.

Thanks for reading, as always.

N x