I’ve written before that it is difficult to have a child with special needs that don’t show. Down’s Syndrome is fairly easy to spot visually. A wheelchair announces physical challenges. Sensory Processing Disorder looks like anyone else on the street until the person with SPD melts down in anxiety.
In elementary school, even though the teachers and principal were aware of the diagnosis, my daughter was treated mostly as if she had behavior issues. Well, that’s how her SPD played out back then. She’d go under tables, behind chairs, crumple onto the floor, cry buckets without being able to talk, etc. The day we told the school we were pulling her out, the teacher had a whole behavior plan she was proudly touting. Behavior was never the problem itself and I didn’t bother to tell her that her plan would fall flat. There was no point. We’d already stated four or five times that we would be home schooling her from that point forward.
Fast forward to today. DD2 completed high school last June and planned on taking some time to work before making decisions about further education. Well, she turned 18 at the end of the summer and is able to apply for the jobs she thought she’d like. The topic of getting a job brings fear to her eyes. Ask her what scares her about a job, and the reply is “everything”.
So here we are, working to decrease anxiety by practicing the things which scare and overwhelm her. Everything about growing up scares her. She’s registered to vote (that was an ordeal too) and the ballot is on the table for her to look at and mark with her decisions. My idea is to have her complete a ballot before going to the polls, then transfer her choices to the official ballot. I’ve checked – it’s okay as long as she doesn’t leave her paper in the booth. I’m going to walk her through her ballot when we get there, and she’ll probably be nervous about the whole thing even though our polling place is tiny.
She has no confidence in her ability to make change. She’s perfectly able to do it (I’ve seen it many times), she just tells herself that she can’t then chokes. Lucky her, I have change for her to practice with me. She shed tears just thirty minutes ago over making change. I was kind but blunt. She needs to become comfortable with money or she’ll be run over through life. We need to practice a few minutes every day.
I’m working to remember to call her into the kitchen to help me. She’s afraid of using knives and of messing things up. It’s not a fun exercise to have her with me – probably a factor which works against me remembering to call her – but it is vital. She’s going to have to be able to feed herself without always making Ramen noodles or Chef BoyArDee.
She needs to help more around the house. DH has been firm on that. She’s not going to school or working, so she has plenty of time to help. Easy to say, not as easy to enforce. There have been frustration moments over cleaning the bathroom. Apparently her siblings would let her do the job she wanted whenever I left it to them, so she thought she didn’t know how to do the rest of it. I found her clean laundry from Friday in a pile on the floor Tuesday. I explained that it needs to be put away, even if it’s a favorite which will be worn again soon.
I love my daughter, and I also like her. I’m getting a bit worn out, though. Today, I’ll admit, I went out for a small errand, inviting her to go along. She stayed home, so I went to Burger King when my errand was finished. I just needed time away. It can be exhausting just to think about some of the things I need to work on with DD.
There’s also the appointment next week to find out the results of DS’s evaluation. Will we find out that he’s dyslexic? High functioning autism has crossed my mind, or it could be nothing at all. We may be back to square one when all is said and done. If there’s a ‘labeled’ diagnosis, what treatment/tutoring/whatever will be involved with that? If there’s nothing measurably wrong, we still have to find a way to improve his spelling and writing skills.
Then throw into the equation that DD2 just went outside to rake leaves a few minutes ago. I didn’t ask her to. I was going to ask her to do it later this afternoon, but she wasn’t aware of that. It makes me feel so small and petty for being frustrated with her.
I just need to keep praying about all of it, and try to ease judgement on all of us.