Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A story of learning to cope: hairdos, play parts, and making things work

Little Miss M had a big weekend. She is involved in a theater class though a local prestigious university as a part of their community outreach program. The class was an eight week endeavor. The children create their own stories. For weeks, Little Miss M talked about being the Tooth Fairy. We went and bought a purple dress and she was fixated on it. She continuously talked about how excited she was that she was the Tooth Fairy and not the Easter Bunny - she really didn't want to be a bunny!

Last week, already tired and weak from being sick, Little Miss M got to class to find out that the person playing the Easter Bunny wasn't going to be in the play anymore and they told her she really needed to be the Easter Bunny. This set off a rather large meltdown that took her hours to recover from. It took a lot of repetition and hugs, but we got through it. I knew that there was no way Little Miss would play a bunny so after talking in circles, I asked Little Miss M how she felt about creating an Easter Fairy. It took a few minutes of self soothing and talking, but eventually she embraced it as her own idea and was able to cope. We got sparkled eggs, wings, and a wand to make her costume festive.

Then, it was performance day. The night before, I asked Little Miss M how she wanted her hair done. She told me she wanted curls. So I prepped her hair, knowing how hard it would be for an excited little girl to sit while I used a curling iron. In the morning I undid her prep, and pinned a beautiful hairdo. She took one look in the mirror and proclaimed that she didn't like it at all. It was too curly. I reminded her that she asked for curly hair, to which she replied that she had meant straight. I sighed, she sobbed but she had to go to Sunday school. As if she wasn't distraught enough about her hair, she then slipped very hard on the bottom step and seemingly injured her tailbone. Luckily, she got to Sunday school and her friend told her how beautiful her hair looked and just like that things were okay.

She made it through her show with a big smile on her face, but the weekend took its toll on her. Instead of enjoying a small family barbecue she curled up in her bed to "rest" and watch Netflix. I'm proud of her that she knew she needed a break and I'm also proud of her that she was able to manage the changes life threw at her with a little help. Coping with change is very difficult for Little Miss M, as it is for many children on the Autism spectrum. It's a skill we keep working on and although some situations and some days are more difficult than others, but I will take a win for this weekend!

Amanda breathed a sigh of relief that the Easter Fairy flew as a character for this made up play!

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