Thursday, 15 January 2015

I'm the Mum of THAT child

You know the child I mean. The one that runs wildly through the shopping centre, with no regard for other people. The child whose tantrum over the fact I've sat her in the trolley can be heard for miles. The child who seems unperturbed by her mother trying to keep calm and not cry while talking to her, trying her absolute best to control her and make her understand what she is doing, her behaviour, is simply not socially acceptable.

Yes, I said her. People look more, I think, because she's a girl. They pay more attention, stare. Normally THAT child is a boy, and a boy, well you can write their behaviour off. "Boys will be boys" "oh maybe he has autism or a behavioural issue". Apparently girls don't suffer from these things. They are automatically well behaved, they don't "get" autism or behavioural issues, they don't "suffer" from sensory processing difficulties. 

Except when they do.

My little wild child. My Mini Miss. My princess who marches to her very own beat. My smart clever little girl who almost has a photographic memory. She is THAT child.

Today I took the first step. I've known for a while she has difficulties. Today we got a referral to a pediatrician and I made the appointment immediately as I knew it would take time to get in to see him.
➡️ She cannot tolerate loud noises and will cover her ears and curl up into a ball, squinting her eyes shut too, as if that will help further block it out. 
➡️ She hates you touching her head and the only way to brush her hair is to completely immerse her in something else so she barely notices. She also hates clothes. 
➡️ She barely eats and will literally gag when food she doesn't know touches her mouth. Literally I can get her to eat Ham, Cheese slices, chicken nuggets, Vegemite sandwiches, and occasionally apples and strawberries. That is mainly what her diet consists of, with maybe 1-2 other things very occasionally. But never anything she hasn't had before. 
➡️ Don't attempt to make eye contact with her. She will simply roll her eyes in every other direction and if you try and force her, she simply closes her eyes.
➡️ Meltdowns occur over the littlest things, such as playing the Frozen soundtrack on random instead of "from the ice song, the first song", or not saying hello to the camels when we pass them in their paddock, and a major tantrum can last hours. And you can't comfort her, she will push you away and scream more.
➡️ Repetition. The same games over and over. The same song has to be listened to over and over and over again. If you change it....meltdown.
➡️ Knowledge rules her life, if we want that life to be calm. She wakes up each morning and asks "what's our day mummy?" Which means, what day is it and what are we doing. She needs that run down on what to expect. She knows what regular activities happen on what days. If those activities don't happen, there has to be a good reason. The first week after swimming went on break for summer holidays we had a meltdown as she "needed" to be at her lesson.

There is so much more, but you get the idea.

On the up side, she is so smart. At 3.5 we are doing pre reading and simple sight words. She can count to 20, and back down, she can count by 10's to 100. She knows all her shapes, including 3d shapes, and all her colours. She has a facination with Egypt and can rattle off facts about pyramids and mummies and the river Nile. She also LOVES space & learning about the planets, stars & moons.

So I am THAT mother of THAT child. I'm not sure if she has a medical or behavioural problem. If she has a sensory processing problem. Or if maybe, she's just one of a kind.

But I do know she doesn't react like other kids her age. She's not naughty, at least not on purpose (most of the time. She can be purposely defiant at times too, like your typical threenager!) When she does finally realise what she did was wrong, and sometimes it takes a LONG time for her to get it, she is so full of remorse, it's almost like a depression at times. 

So the next time you see a mother with a "wild" toddler, one who seems out of control, stop and think. Does that mother look exhausted? Does she look like she is trying her utmost to control this little bundle of energy? Does her child look like he, or she, is behaving this way on purpose, to be naughty? Does that mother ther look like she loves her child even though they seem possessed? 

Maybe don't be so quick to judge. Don't be so quick to say something nasty, or tell that mother about "back in your day". It's not helpful. Maybe instead try to feel some empathy. Give that mother a gentle understanding smile instead and go about your day. After all, this one interruption will only be a small part of it.

Chances are her child simply doesn't fit "the norm". And in a society where we are all taught a certain way, expected to act a certain way, when you don't fit the norm things are harder. Harder to teach, harder to fit in, harder to "control". It's not bad, it's not wrong, it's simply different. 

And in a world where we are trying to be accepting and tolerant of others religious and cultural differences, just maybe we should offer this same tolerance to THAT mother and her child. 

Chances are they are both doing the best they can.