Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat!

         Based on the last photo session we had, I thought Jordan would be fine when I scheduled their Halloween portraits for last Wednesday. She had a half day at school, and took a great nap in the afternoon. She was well rested and happy as a clam. We got her dressed into her "Tinka Beww" costume and we were on our way to Sears. When we arrived, Jordan ran in and played with the toys and some other children that were there. She said hello to the photographer (coincidentally, the same one that had taken our family portraits 5 months ago) and helped us get Johnny into his costume.
           But I should have known that nothing ever goes according to plan. As soon as we walked into the studio itself, she lost it. She began to sob and clasped her hands over her ears, a defense mechanism of hers when something frightens her. I tried everything I could think of, from asking her to give Daddy and Johnny hugs and kisses, to tickling her, to tossing her in the air. She wanted none of it.  I ended up taking her for a walk around the store to help her calm down. We sang our ABC's and she finally relaxed. Until we made it back to the portrait studio. She started clinging to me again like white on rice, sobbing and crying. We sat on a chair right outside the door and watched as Johnny had his pictures taken. I managed to convince her to sit on my lap, and we snuck in a few photos. The poor thing was so worked up we had to stop.

          With kids on the spectrum, you have to be prepared for events like this. Even if a situation is familiar, if something is off or one thing has changed, it can shake their whole world. My belief is that not all the same people were present for the photo session (Uncle Josh was not there) and that really threw her off and thus was the catalyst for her meltdown.  The most important thing that I have learned, especially from this situation,  is that she is not an autistic child, but a child with autism. She is first and always, a child. And the best way to deal with an unhappy child is  to maintain a calm and soothing demeanor.  She was able to pick up on my tranquility and feed off of it, and it helped her to feel safe and eventually at peace.

Despite all the commotion, we still managed to get these great shots!

        Trick or Treating itself was a blast. Jordan fed off the excitement of all the other kids and went up to each and every house that they did, holding up her bag and saying "trick or treat!"  This was a sharp contrast to last year, when she would only go with Uncle Pat and would not (as we later found out, could not) say a word.  She remembered to always hold my hand when we were walking in the street, and held the flashlight out in front of us when it got dark. Her progress is phenomenal, and she's only getting better. It was so much fun, and we're really looking forward to next year!



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