You have heard me talk about my daughter’s ADHD and the yet to be diagnosed, “learning disorder” that affects her ability to cope with changes, deal with her emotions and regulate the way she handles responses to external stimuli. Going to new places, trying new things, doing regular family stuff that involves being out in public or just around people in general (even our own family) and any kind of quick change of plans or change in routine…we do all of those things differently than most. We introduce things slowly. Brook has to be mentally prepared for pretty much anything that we do. We plan things well in advance in order to give her the best shot of being able to enjoy herself.
For instance at the beginning of each school year we go in the week before school starts so that she can be prepared and will know where her new desk is, where her new locker is, what the new teacher’s routine is. When having a family party we have to start talking about it weeks in advance, explaining that there will be lots of people in our home, it will be crowded, noisey, she has to use her manners and if she gets over whelmed to tell us and take a break in her bedroom with the door shut. The extra planning doesn’t always help. When we had her First Communion last year she was excited to have all of these people over and have a party, until the last second before we left for the church, when she started crying and yelling and asking us to cancel the party…she wasn’t going to First Communion at all! But for the most part planning helps.
I’ll give you two examples of what happens when we dont plan, or when we do plan but the plans change.
Example 1) Going to her friend’s birthday party at a family fun center. We talked to the mom and she told us exactly what we would be doing in the order that we would be doing them in (I love parents that are totally open to helping make experiences for Brook so much more enjoyable), I explained to my daughter what each activity was and how she would play it. We get there, everything is fun, she is having a great time but then the one activity that we were supposed to do (laser tag) was not working so we had to do bumper cars instead. She had a melt down. She was prepared for laser tag and not bumper cars. She could not wrap her head around the change until I explained to her exactly what she would do, from walking to the bumper car, getting in, and driving it around. I had to have her watch the other kids so that she could see how the cars were used. She eventually went on and had a great time (YAY) but the before was the struggle.
Example 2) Right after we learned that my daughter has this disability (whatever it is) but before we had learned anything about it, we planned a trip to Disney World. Every kid’s dream right? We made it a surprise for her…you can only imagine how that turned out! She was miserable for the first 2 days as she acclimatized herself to the new surroundings. She cried, whined, wants to go home, did not want to leave the hotel room…for 3 days! It was awful. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. She eventually came around, got used to the crowds and the different setting and had a great time, but those first 3 days were brutal.
This is just a glimpse into our life. Everyone’s experiences are different. Everyone has their own opinions. These are mine.
3rd Generation Mommy