I’ve started this journey on the ASD pathway and it’s taken so long that we’ve taken our own pathway. Well, so I thought, until I got called in for a special meeting, to which I was invited to bring a family member.
Sounded ominous, nevertheless, I attended on my own, not quite clear why I was there in the first place. Through attending the parent support group, I have realised that my daughter’s symptoms are mild compared to most. Granted, she was older than most of the other presenting children and has probably learned to mask her behaviour, but some of the presenting behaviour, as described by the parents was quite shocking, verging on physical abuse.
A letter has been sent to the school to answer questions like:
- Communication Skills: How does the child use their language in class to communicate needs or skills? How does the child understand language?
- Friendships and Social Interactions: Verbal and non-verbal communication. Describe the child’s play. Do you feel their interaction is appropriate for their age?
- Behaviour eg. Repetitive or steroptyped behaviours. Does the child show any rigidity around routines?
- Sensory Needs: eg does the child show over/under sensitivity to touch, smell, noise, pain, temperature etc
- School progress and academic ability
Considering that she’s just received an award for good behaviour; I think the teacher will be flummoxed by this request.
Yes, she is obsessive.
Yes; she has to be in control to maintain her sense of wellbeing in the world. Most definitely yes to being bossy with her friends. But she’s just our O, a little eccentric, knows exactly what she wants, strong willed; all of which could describe most parent’s children, I think.
But after two hours of in depth questioning, I am exhausted.
“I can see why life can be very difficult for you,” she says kindly, “She seems to be quite a handful”.
“DO you think so?” I say, ” I think she’s doing so much better than she was.” But perhaps I am just getting used to it.
My biggest concern is trying to get her away from watching television and out of the house.
But where to? What for?
I see her point…. It’s cold, grey, litter clings to the streets like a permanent fixture, the urban equivalent to a wind blown dessert. She won’t take the dog around the block as she says she is afraid of the other kids, but I know it’s fear of the unknown and she can’t exert control over her external environment.
I look at houses.
This much I know: we are moving… but where to?
I don’t know.
I’m trying to stay in commuting distance to Liverpool, for friends, for work, for connection to our familiar.
We can’t afford a nearby house with a garden so we have to go further afield, and nothing excites me. It’s all just versions of where we live, an urban sprawl with bits of tired green space.
I want to wake in the morning, reach my hands to the (blue, not grey) sky, take a great big gulp of fresh clean air and feel joy.
I want to hear the movement of air in the trees, rustling leaves, birds, I want to emerge from slumber, stumble outside, groping a steaming cup of tea and allow my sleep infused eyes to gently focus on the horizon, bathed in green.
I need to see a horizon.
On waking, I reach up and stumble to my dusty window, but all I can see is a grey roof, and another and another, to infinity.
I try to find colour in the slate grey, to appreciate the cloudy patch of sky reflected on the wet tiles. I listen for bird song but all I hear is the roar of not so distant traffic. And as for gulping the air – my daughter and I step out the house in the early morning and are greeted with the most foulest of smells, and such variety – we close down our air passages and expostulate most loudly, ‘Eeeuch that stinks!”
But cities bring friends, fellow humans, helpful hands, and community.
They bring social habitats and culture and opportunities and variety.
And they provide work.
This is a key factor to my choosing to stay close; I need to feed my family. The work that I do is intrinsic to cities – I reconnect people with nature. I work tirelessly to remind people to go outside, breathe forest air, to be with trees. People have become unhealthy and have lost the ability to recharge and self manage. Nature and access to nature has been proven to lower stress levels, improve self esteem, increase opportunities for positive social interactions.
But amongst all this valuable work, I feel that my batteries are becoming uncharged, I’m not refuelling at the pace of the energy being expended.
It doesn’t help that I’m laid off with a back injury, I think I’ve pulled a muscle, and even though the sky is grey, in the time taken to write this, I’ve watched it mutate to orange, blue, pinky, purple.
I played tennis for four hours yesterday, outdoors in icy conditions hence the spasm in my back. Even with all the running around, I never shed one layer which is most unusual for me. And my mental health must be improving as I definitely wasn’t shy of line calls, as I have been in times previous.
If in doubt, call it out!
And I did, numerously.
I also developed a new coping mechanism.
Each time my mind wandered and I lost concentration, dreaming of Sunday lunch, roast potatoes, nut roast, kale – we’d lose the point.
I’ve tried positive thinking – imagine winning, picture the score, it’s in the bag, I’ve got this, let’s win, we’ve won, etc – but still we lose the point.
My new technique is this, I drop down, ready to pounce and I say ‘ball ball ball ball’, over and over, to myself of course; and I focus, and then I win the point.
And in doing this I also keep myself infinitely amused.
I can multitask, again!