We have spent the last two days out and about. Yesterday we went the the special needs groups ‘clubhouse’ for 4 hours and today spent 2 and a half hours in the park followed by an hour soft play.
The special needs clubhouse is opened up to the public Monday to Wednesday 10-5, which is great. They have three big rooms- toys and dress up lounge, soft play and sensory. They also have a massive garden with a maze, overgrown walkway, play house, wooden train, small sand pit, inclusive roundabout with space for a wheel chair and an array of attachment seats for all different children’s needs.
We went from 11.30am and I was surprised that there were not many of us there. Dinky found a lad around her age and began to try and make him play her game. They were both cats and he had to pretend to fall in love with her (Ice age 4 continental drift- sheera and Diego). At first he went along with it, the rest of the time she chased him round trying to get him to play with her. I was talking to his mum who asked if dinky had special needs. I said yes, she is being assessed for an autism spectrum disorder. As with most people, she said “oh, well she is interacting well, and playing nicely.” I dot think she was paying much attention to what was going on as dinky continued to try and coerce the lad into pretending to be Diego. In the end they were just jumping in the ball pit in the soft play room. The lad was quite good about it, and just ignored her verbal battery and instead just carried on jumping in with her. We went from room to room as dinky was settling into a semi new environment. It was much different when we last were there, as we went for a birthday party.
People came and went, at one point we were the only ones there I think.
She had great fun in the soft play room and out in the garden, running around and playing. She spent some time in the sensory room, but more so later in the day.
I got chatting to some of the other mums and again I was asked if Dinky was special needs and I answered the same as before. One of the mums had a child that was a complex case and said she didn’t feel like she ‘belonged’ to any group in particular. I said despite the ASD assessment, what it seems is that Dinky may have PDA which is a little known form of ASD and therefore I don’t always feel like I fit in with the ASD group.
This is when I nearly died of shock!
One of the other mums with 2 nt children said “oh, pathological demand avoidance?” I couldn’t believe it. It isn’t often people know what on earth I am talking about. It turns out this mum worked in a school so had heard of it on a course!
At about 2 there were quite a few lads and dinky was trying to play with them. She wanted them to be cats and one of them had to fall in love with her. In the end they just began to ignore her and leave her out. So she locked them out of the playhouse in the garden. I had to remind her that the playhouse was everyone’s and maybe she should find something to play on, like the diggers.
She told me she was hungry and could I get her some biscuits. I got her some, she then went to everyone and gave them a biscuit. Then they all crowded round her for more. She then had them wanting to play with her, well, until her biscuits ran out. We would have to leave pretty soon, so I tried to get her into the sensory room to calm down as by this point she knew it was getting to home time, she was getting angry and violent. I managed to persuade her to visit the bubble tubes before we left. The room was empty so dinky went straight to the bubbles tubes. She was soon entranced by them. After 10 minutes she moved onto the light box, then the swing, then lay face down in a star in the ball pit (it had clear balls and mood lighting on the base).
When it was time to go, she was so chilled out she didn’t kick off, she wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but she came out, ordered some crisps and said goodbye to the staff as we walked out.
We then went straight to the pool for swimming. On the way there I had to hold her ears as the cars were too noisy for her, once there we had dinner and then I got her ready. I don’t know if I have mentioned it, but dinky has learnt a new skill. Putting her face under the water. She has done nothing but bob up and down since in her swimming lessons. She is now using it as an avoidance tactic! As soon as the teacher talks she goes under. To be honest I do not really mind. She is managing to hold her breath for longer and longer and is doing the mushroom float.
Dinky wasn’t listening to a word the teacher said, but at home time she did really well coming out. We had a low level meltdown in the showers and again in the changing rooms.
On the way back she didn’t want to get in a cab and to avert the meltdown I agreed to get the bus. Again I had to hold her ears along the dual carriageway.
I have written in here before that I MUST get her a set of ear defenders in order to be able to walk properly down that stretch of road every week, but every time I got home I didn’t think she a) needed them that badly b) would wear them. However when we got home and she had held Whiskers the guinea pig for a bit, I got her to choose which pair she would like. I refuse to have to hold her ears while trying to walk with my legs either side if her in order not to trip her up!
She has gone for some hot pink ones.
Today we went to the park. Again she was finding lads to be Diego and trying to get them to pretend to fall in love with her. Again it ended up with her chasing them and shouting in their aces while they ignored her. She came over for a snack, which happened to be a small packet of monsters university biscuits and, again, she shared them out and became popular until they disappeared. It was nice that one lad stuck with her and let her play with him. He was happy to chase her as she ran away as she didn’t want to be in love with Diego in the end.
It was really odd to see her not only play the same exact game with 4 different sets of lads over the two days but also to alienate them and get them back with biscuits. We only go to the park for a small while after school and Dinky does the same thing each time. She first plays on the climb and slide, and then on the trampoline, back to the climb and slide to sit in the slide tunnel and then runs around like a headless chicken unless she can get on the big swinging basket. She rarely plays games in parks and it was unusual to see her in that environment and doing those things as I never used to take her out a few days on the trot to the same sorts of places as it was a nightmare, as I would inadvertently set her off because I didn’t know about PDA or even suspect there was anything going on other than she was a handful at times. Also last year the same game made sense as we did spend a lot of the summer holidays in the fort adventure playground. So she was playing castles with dragons, princes and princesses (Shrek 1- Shrek rescues Fiona from a dragon guarded castle). This however made perfect sense as the surrounding were the same.
I do learn a lot more about dinky on a day to day basis. I will link a habit, or work out why she does something, or even sometimes just really see more of the ASD traits that maybe I never really gave much thought to.
My dad (under lots of duress) is giving me some respite tomorrow as dinky wants to go to the cinema to see smurfs 2 (she likes smufette), and I desperately need some wind down time as we have had a busy week!
Saturday is a pet show, which I know she will love…
Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays (or at least surviving it if your child has any form of special needs!).
For anyone who would like to find out more about PDA please visit