For me it was a disaster, but it was just what the ASD speech and language therapist needed to see!
This morning Dinky was excited about trampolining, she kept asking when we were going, so much so she was getting herself all anxious. Bouncing round the house like a ball in a pinball machine, then she actually stopped to do a drawing on her easel, then she was blowing bubbles for the dog and giggling like mad as the dog was catching them.
Dinky has a new massive aversion to strangers which has meant she has refused to go on public transport, so I brought her a hat and with her DS and headphones and gently got her round to the idea of going on the bus there. Her original suggestion was to push her in a buggy for 6 year olds. She had no chance of that happening!
We had a long walk with the dog and then got ready. I will admit I did do a few direct demands, just to make sure the speech and language therapist saw Dinky’s PDA behaviour and wasn’t instead treated to ‘honeymoon’ period, where Dinky was as nice as pie until she just couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Dinky was happy to have her headphones, hat and DS on the way there, she wore her ear defenders down the road, and then we got there.
Dinky had to wait for me to pay the £40 for the 10 weeks, and Dinky was not happy waiting! We then made our way to the hall and were the first ones there. Dinky was not impressed that there was no bouncy castle like there was on the fundays and was already on the verge of meltdown. In comes the instructor who asked me a few questions and Dinky was hiding behind me saying ‘Stranger, stranger’. We sat down and were greeted by the speech and language therapist. Dinky wouldn’t even look at her, it was then that Dinky just wanted to get on with it, I had to explain that this wasn’t going to happen, and that she had to wait for the instructor. Dinky was unable to verbalise what was going on and was huffing and pointing and getting rather cross. She was doing this less than 3 feet away from the SALT!
Then Dinky was allowed to get on. There were 5/6 children and despite there being 6 trampolines set up, only 1 could use the trampoline at a time… this was never going to end well, and it seems I didn’t actually have to give any direct instructions because they were just not thinking how this was going to work with a group of children with additional needs, most of whom have some form of autism!
So Dinky was up there bouncing and the instructor started well by saying ‘can you see if you can stay on the X’, then she began giving direct instructions- ‘Don’t go over there’, ‘Stay on the X’, ‘Don’t keep doing seat drops’, ect. When it was time to come off she said ‘Come sit on the edge its time to get off now’, well, dinky then began running across all the other trampolines, and being dangerous, not listening to instructions, being rude (she actually did the thumbs on side of face, wiggle fingers and tongue out! hahaha), and then when we did get her off, she began hitting me, then she ran off and I had to chase after her. Once she had found a spot to occupy I stood at the other end to make sure she didn’t disappear out of any of the doors!
The SALT cam over to me.
SALT: Is this what she is normally like when faced with so many direct instructions?
SALT: must be hard to keep taking her to places and trying new things, it must seem easier just to stay at home?
Me: It is but I couldn’t stay at home, we have to get out.
SALT: for what it is worth you handled it in the right way and there was nothing you could have done. I can see what you are saying about the avoidance. It is good that I saw it as you would have been more frustrated if she had complied.
Me: I know. It is just difficult, I couldn’t say to the instructor ‘she has PDA and this is how you deal with it’ because she hasn’t got a diagnosis. It is hard.
SALT: well, I have seen it today.
Then we discussed whether she should stay or go now, I said it depended on what she needed to see. In the end the SALT decided to stay to see how she calmed down and what she was like after she had calmed down, and if she would get back up there, what she really needed to see was Dinky interacting with others.
So after dinky found a door to run through and I calmed her with her hitting a ball with a bat a few times we went back over to the trampolines. She stayed in a corner hiding while I got her DS and we sat there until it was Dinky’s turn again.
This time the instructor was better, much more indirect language and Dinky was enjoying it! 2 minutes up and dinky came and sat down. We played DS, and another mum tried to talk to Dinky, but Dinky wasn’t having any of it! “Stranger” and hid behind me. She got her melon snack out and 10 minutes later and it was Dinky’s turn again, much better indirect instructions. Dinky was having a whale of a time for the 2 minutes. Then it was time to go. Dinky was avoiding getting ready and another parent came to say goodbye to me and then asked Dinky (who was 3 feet in front of the SALT) if she would see her next week. Dinky didn’t answer and after a few attempts she said yes. Then the instructor came over and I was really happy at what happened next!
Instructor: Dinky are you going to come next week?
Dinky: Do you have a garden?
Instructor: Erm.. yes, but I was asking y…
Dinky: here is a seed, to grow melon
Instructor: thank y..
Dinky: you need to plant it and be patient
Instrcutor: thanks, I can tell you how well it is do…
Dinky: we don’t have a garden
Instructor: will I see you next week?
Dinky (who had not given eye contact once): Yeah
Then the SALT walked out with us
SALT: Did you enjoy that?
SALT: Dinky, did you enjoy that?
Me: so we shall see you at home next week?
SALT: yes. Dinky, I am going to come see you at home next week
Dinky: I have lots of lego
SALT: do you?
Dinky: yes it is all downstairs, mummy made a bus.
we talk on the way out
SALT: Dinky, see you next week
SALT: Dinky, see you next week
She hadn’t given eye contact with anyone the whole session.
I know she does give eye contact, but the reason the first muppet ruled out autism was because she gave normal eye contact… Dinky doesn’t give normal eye contact, she gives eye contact occasionally, but prefers not to! It does indicate ASD to the SALT as one of the big fat red flags.
Also the talking over people, only discussing what she wants to talk about, not interacting with anyone- it is all ‘good’ for the SALT to see.
Although the next 9 sessions of trampolining are going to be rough going! However I am going to get the instructor to do an EDA-Q just before Dinky’s assessment, just to add yet another source to show Dinky is like it everywhere and the school are just wrong.
So that was part one. She is coming to the house next week on the 22nd, for an hour or so… should be interesting!