Today we went into town. We were going to catch a train to our favourite coffee shop as a treat. Deborah stated quite categorically that she did not want to go, but we thought we;d try anyway. This morning was a little chaotic at home so it was always worth going and seeing if getting away form the chaos might help. It didn't, she wouldn't go through the barriers and looked completely terrified. Ian and Michael were over the other side and the stress of the situation got to me, I could feel my tummy turning flips and exhaustion covering me as I tried to stay calm. The noise of the people, the bright lights, my expectations to "Get D to CONFORM, to GET ON THE TRAIN, to PUSH THROUGH HER FEAR", my feelings that I would be failing her as a mother if I did not get her on the train, yada yada yada.
Deborah by now was sitting on the floor entranced in the patterns of the stones inset in it. I joined her and realised she was finding squares, triangles, circles in amongst the random shapes (it's gravel set in a matrix or sorts and polished up, could even be granite I guess). I joined her, my ASD brain was soothed, she gave me a big hug. I asked if she wanted to go on the train or go round town with me. She still didn't want the train, so Ian and Michael went off on the train and we went round town. It was lovely. How clever of Deborah to able to self soothe in the middle of such a sensory overload and be able to stand her ground. Parent learning from the child.
As I was drifting off to sleep last night I realised I'd forgotten the most important bit! Our visual timetable was set up for bus, train, coffee shop etc. Plus we always do plenty of verbal preparation too. This meant that when I didn't get on the train with D, we had unscheduled time and had to wing it - another potentially huge issue. Having not forced the issue with the trains, D was calm enough in herself to be able to go with the flow. We ended up having a wonderful time in town together, and then an impromptu tea out followed by walking around town looking at the Christmas lights. So it worked out super well.