Great and not so great things
October has been a mixed bag for Savannah . Years ago she learnt how to use a calendar and since then she is pretty dependent on it. She keeps track of the days, weeks and months. While this is a great skill, it is sometimes not so great for her and for us. Great, because she remembers and looks forward to special days. For example once she knows when Easter will be on the new calendar, she sets to planning when she needs to buy the leg of lamb for the Easter lunch that she prepares. Lovely!
But not so great is when she anticipates, Guy Fawkes, Diwali and New Year’s Eve. Usually she starts talking about it as soon as her birthday passes which is in August. She is so afraid of fireworks that the anticipation is worse than the actual event. For Savannah, she becomes very repetitive, self –harming, nauseous and struggles to sleep.
She also wants to wish her friends for Diwali by writing e-mails to those who celebrate it. Case in point about her anxiety: she wrote her e-mails in September waiting in anticipation to send it out this week in November. So anxious and focused has she been on this one event, that she has been unable to write or respond to other e-mails for the last six weeks.
This year my husband, Michael and I have been talking about these events every so often in the hope of helping her to work through her anxiety. We have been expressing our dislike of loud noises when we have attended parties or when our neighbours have been too loud. We made a point of explaining and modelling what we could do for ourselves to ease our discomfort at times like these.
For me, I showed Savannah that I could watch a movie on my laptop with earphones. For Michael, he went to the TV lounge and watched the sports channel at a loud volume. We told Savannah how we felt and explained as we made our choices so that she can learn to express what upsets her, and to do something pro-active about it.
Guy Fawkes Day passed us by with barely any stress on Savannah’s part. However, this week is Diwali, and she is not handling this one so well. Her anticipation of what will or won’t happen is a big deal. This time instead of writing a social story to help her with her anxiety, I sent her an e-mail. She is enjoying listening to her e-mails read out to her and it seems to be improving her listening skills as she remembers points from the e-mail when she responds to the sender.
I was rather surprised that she figured out that by selecting the buttons for “Talk, Shout or Whisper”, she changes the volume of the spoken text. So when I once said to her that she was too loud, she selected “Whisper” and her e-mail was read at a lower volume. So cool.
Oh, and she has been doing a great job at following her weekly schedule. I was unsure about how well she would do at feeding our dog, Jaymee. She has shown commitment and rarely forgets to feed him. He has a special place in her life, and I find it so heart-warming that not only does she remember to feed him, but also sneaks him some treats without checking with anyone.
After explaining to her a few times that it is unhealthy for Jaymee to eat so many biscuits, she finally reduced his treats to two a day instead of something like six treats a day.
View Savannah’s daily schedule here.