Expected and Unexpected .......... April 19, 2017 00:00
As a youngster it took us quite a while to work out the triggers to behavious/reactions, but being the super sleuth that I am we always worked it out eventually!
Often when hubby would get home from work Miss E would not respond. No running to the door and yelling "daddy, daddy, yay you're home". Instead she would retreat and go to her room, coming out eventually when she was ready. As you can imagine this is not a nice feeling for daddy who's spent several hours away and is happy to be home. Terminology in our house that you will often hear is "expected/unexpected" which we use in relation to situations that she doesn't naturally know how to read/react. So we would always follow these episodes with "Remember it's expected that Daddy wants you to say hello when he gets home because he hasn't seen you all day"... the need for continual reminding of this became annoying to us all! Then we had a shining light moment and realised the "why"!
She likes life to be predictable. She needs routine and structure to help her brain function in this world that operates very differently to her own instinct. Daddy doesn't have a regular schedule. He is home at different times everyday. To her this was too unpredictable. Our system now is that daddy will always ring when he's on his way home and I can let the kids know "daddy will be home in 5 minutes". This also worked during the preschool years when daddy came home for lunch. So long as he rang before arriving.. even if he was at the top of the street... the fact was that because she knew what to expect she embraced it. Daddy gets the warm greeting he expects and she gets the structure she needs to process his arrival.
Another stumbling block to this pattern is also when visitors arrive that we may not have seen for some time. People change.. they grow beards, they change their hair colour, they change their glasses etc. It was very normal for her to initially run into her room on the arrival of visitors we hadn't seen for a while as her expectation of what she was going to see was different. She remembers every single detail of what they looked like last time and now that has changed !:O Thinking caps on again and daddy came up with the awesome idea for our visitors to send us a selfie via text message when they were on their way for dinner one night. This way she knew exactly what to expect and embraced the greeting well and it was comfortable for us all. It worked! She instantly greeted the visitors and we didn't see the retreat anymore.
The big thing I've learnt as a mum to a kid with additional needs is to never take a reaction personally. She's not running to her bedroom because she doesn't like that person... she just needed time to process why that person now suddenly looks hairy all over their face. A difference that we take in our stride, but she takes a while to process. Given time she always comes out and within minutes she's affectionate and chatty and having a great time... but every time there is change her brain reaction is doubt!
As an 8 year old she is now very aware that change is her stumbling block and it presents in several different ways, some we expect and some that catch us off guard. The difference now is that because she understands her diagnosis and understands her challenges she is also determined to overcome them! We can talk about it, process it and come up with strategies together to make those challenges easier.
Donna - Committee Member