Sabi was officially diagnosed with autism this week. It’s odd really, sort of like we bought a soccer ball, studded boots and team colours four years ago and we’ve been kicking that ball around the field every day since but we have only just gotten around to joining the club. Sabi is our second child on the spectrum so you would think that I would have some sort of super ability to be right on top of all of her needs but as any parent of more than one child will tell you no two kids are alike. It’s the same with autism.
Sabi’s brother Eli is often so different to her that I feel that they are opposing sides of the same coin. Like get this, he can’t stand eggs, he doesn’t like the taste of them, the feel of them in his mouth, can’t stand the smell of them cooking, hard boiled eggs bring on his gag reflex, hey he doesn’t even like the look of them in their shells he says they’re too smooth and roundy looking. So what is the only food that Sabi will gobble up with glee? yup you guessed it, eggs.
I wrote about what autism is when Eli was first diagnosed, if you fancy checking out what I thought about it all back then you can read it here. But this time round I thought I would just show you what living with a whirlwind four year old topped up with autism is like.
Ok so here we go. The photo at the top of the post was taken at a recent party. Sabi was overwhelmed as she often is at any function were she’s surrounded by a lot of people. When she’s in this state she yoyos between bonkers manic child to looking like a little lost bunny. Often she’ll stim by repetitively spinning or standing on her head. Or she’ll try to block out some of her sensors by cramming herself into a small dark space, blocking her ears or simply running away. Sometimes her distress is also brought on by a certain noise, or the feel of a particular item of clothing so Glenn and I have to play detective most days to figure out what is causing her to flip out.
Living with autism means she finds it hard to regulate her emotions. Simply speaking we have no idea how she is going to react to anything and every day is a rollercoaster of desperately upset, mad panic or ecstatically happy with not many stops in between.
oh and obsessions, they’re fun. At the moment she’s hooked on Peppa Pig, she will constantly chatter about it, need to watch it and compare everything in life to it. But at least this one is quite common among little kids so they get what she’s saying. She didn’t have much luck finding any other three year olds willing to play Delete all the Humans, Exterminate Your Brother or even sing praises to the mighty Sontaran empire when she was obsessed with Doctor Who.
Obsessions aren’t just TV shows either, she obsesses about doing the same things, going to the same places, reading the same book and so on. If she does something once and it triggers some feel good emotion inside of her that’s it we will have it over and over and over again till she finds the next thing.
She got very hung up on a particular way of building a block tower, very uniformed, always two plain blocks wide with a coloured block on top. She had to go to playing with blocks school to try and expand her play and now makes a nice line of the same towers that we call a city and she will copy the pictures on her flash cards but not much more.
We also get lines, not sure why but she really enjoys making them and will often recount a whole Peppa Pig episode from beginning to end while doing it.
Everything round here has great line making potential, even the cat.
I’d have to say though that the biggest impact having kids with autism has had on our lives is that we can never relax, it’s just not worth it. Relax, take your mind of them or blank out for a moment and disaster strikes. Someone will break something, or smear paint all over the clean washing, or turn the taps on leave the plug in the sink get distracted and flood the kitchen. Or they will fight and hurt each other, or they will fall off the tower of chairs they have just made and hurt themselves, or they will bust into the cupboard under the sink swallow the beach and hurt themselves. so by the end of the day I often feel that I have been spinning as much as Sabi just to keep my eyes on her.
So that’s a tiny window into our life right now but the one thing all these photo’s can’t portray is the wonderful rush of intense happiness I get when Sabrina throws her arms around me and hugs with all her might. She is such a smiley happy little girl who loves her family and is adored by all of us. Being told she has autism is hard to hear, but not devastating and not even a surprise and we’ll just keep plodding along like we always do. I love my daughter she is my beautiful little Sabrina Bean and our family group hugs would be empty without her.