Hola (take twenty – six) Amigos!
I seem to be endlessly drafting blogs at 1am because that’s when my writing mind seems most alive, draft after draft I delete trying to use the perfect words to sum it all up. The conclusion is though how do you sum up things you don’t fully understand. Does anybody fully understand PDA? Or is it an ongoing battle between the mind and the demands that are faced to us everyday? Is there anything that eases it? If only time could help it fade. It’s hard to sit down and condense all your thoughts into one post when there’s so many questions whirling round your mind on a daily basis. I guess for the last couple of days though I’ve been trying to piece together my personal childhood experience with PDA.
This all started when reminiscing and looking through all the old family photos with my boyfriend (although half the time he got bored and paid no attention to me aww’ing and coo’ing over memories that were so long ago yet so distinctive in my mind) thing is, I’ve always had good memory, there’s moments I can remember from long long ago, but some bits in particular stay most prominent. It’s almost embarrassing to admit this but by now what have I really got to lose?
My childhood started off on a whirlwind of adventures for both my mum and dad who’d parented my 2 older siblings before getting to me and thinking where the hell have we gone wrong? Thing is I created challenges for them that they never expected, made them develop in ways that cannot be imagined and made them make decisions that weren’t easy..but did I know it then? Nope, of course I didn’t. Every parent or guardian knows the weird and judgemental looks your child (especially those with autism) can get; kids walk past glaring because they’re doing something different and even fully grown adults think they have the right to question your parenting style when they just don’t get it. This happened to my mum with these few things in particular…
I had my ‘ninny’ aka dummy aka pacifier aka I don’t know just that thing babies suck from when I was born until my 7th birthday. Yep, it’s true, until I was seven. I know this seems insane and I can imagine the thought process going through your mind right now but for me? It stopped a crazy amount of anxiety. Mum tried on numerous occasions to help me get rid of them, one Christmas Eve when I was 4 I gave them all up ready for the elves to take away with them..only problem is I was so scared of Santa and my anxiety was so high I needed the ninny back that could calm my deepest of nerves. (Me being scared of santa is a different story for a different day – I cannot stress enough how badly I dealt with dressed up people and to this day that phobia remains) after this mum tried and tried to help me get rid of this little sucking thing that was starting to get embarrassing for her and I. But it was just hopeless. I needed it, as much as my mum needed me to calm down, as much as the night needs the moon, I needed that ninny to stop all those anxieties creating a tornado in my head. It was at 7, when I finally gave it up, one day I walked downstairs with all of them in my hands and handed them over..needless to say I don’t think my parents quite believed the sight they were seeing in front of them. Not only was I giving the one thing they thought I never would give up without argument (finally!) I was carrying about 30 dummy’s in my hand, considering I slept with 4 every night, which I physically still don’t understand how is possible.
Another thing I held onto, until an ‘abnormal’ age was my pram. It was an older kids version obviously but within that little seat I could hide away. It was a major deal for me and at the age of 2 I knew how to pull the prams hood right down and hide from the world, which is what I did until I was 7. The thing is with PDA, if the demand is to stop doing something it makes you reluctant to give this one thing up. I always hear mum say now ‘it just wasn’t worth the fight with you’ which makes so much sense I guess, I would fight all day with her about important stuff, at the end of the day what’s the problem with a pram and a dummy as long as you can deal with the judgement. Luckily I didn’t see the beady eyes of judgmental a**holes as I had the hood pulled so far down all I could see was the navy blue chequered pattern it held above my eyes. It’s so weird to think that the prams seat was also like my cave; my hideaway from the rest of the world. Sometimes I would do anything to be pushed around in that again without any eye contact to the rest of the world but reality hits and at 16 I really can’t afford to be in a pram and I most definitely wouldn’t even want a dummy now.
Did anyone else have little things like this that elongated more than ‘usual’ children?
Another thing which is slightly different but also common in many autistic children was my inability to smile. Back then all my school photos are of me screaming and crying my eyes out which even breaks my heart to look at. But when I was genuinely happy you cannot tell by the awkward emotion shown on my face. I struggled so much to smile and that clear distinctive smile didn’t really come on until I was 8 if not older. I realise how unusual this must seem to people who caught on how to smile since they were 6 months old and laughing with their parents as they repeat the sounds ‘mama’ ‘dada’ while pride bursts out of the parents eyes all condensed into laughs at the precious little bundle of joy that lay before them. But for me? It was virtually impossible.
I guess looking back through old photos has made me realise the different things I did to the usual life of children the same age as me. With a pram and a dummy still attached to me when I was well into my seventh year it makes you wonder why I had such a connection? Why did them two things bring me such a relief? It was also nice to see my boyfriend not question it – although knowing my anxiety is bad which was my excuse for my ninny he doesn’t know the rest. I imagine at the time I had countless weird looks and many times my mums parenting was scowled upon, but perhaps it is worth noticing that ‘some battles just aren’t worth fighting’ (especially when a child with PDA is involved).
I guess what I’m trying to say is pick your battles correctly, sometimes it’s easier to lose and have your peace of mind rather than making it harder for the one on the autistic spectrum. Especially those with PDA who suffer terribly from all the demands given in a usual everyday setting.
Thank you – email me firstname.lastname@example.org for any advice, tips or just a friendly ear to listen.
X X X
The learning of the smile.
The dummy and pram (the worst part is I still nap like this now)