Monday, 26 October 2009

Coping with emotions

It's been busy still in my Bristolian world.
I have had a very fruitful, so far, meeting with
Cirwen's teachers.

They have expressed a lot of praises. Not only
problems. Cirwen has a very strong personality.
She knows who she is and what she wants. She
also does express her individuality in many ways.
One of the teachers pointed out that this usually
happens with children in years 9 -11, around the
age of 14 -16. In this way my girl appears more
mature. This is what they are drawn to. She may
be interesting but also intimidating, which leads
to friendship or teasing.

It is all understandable, however Cirwen has lost
the ability to judge the behaviour of others towards
her. Any kind of comment or question regarding
her looks or character, she sees as attack and the
act of bullying.

Her own behaviour became erratic. She goes to
school in a very defensive mood bordering paranoia.
She is unable to confront teasing in a calm, rational
manner. A lot of the times she bursts into tears and
leaves the classroom.

Teachers I spoke to admitted there were a few bullying
incidents which have been dealt with and taken very
seriously. Most of the time, however, these are the
cases of almost harmless remarks or bickering. Any
other person would be able to ignore or brush off such
things, yet Cirwen cannot.

Her need to be accepted, fear of confrontation, and
slowly degrading self confidence are overwhelming.
As any autistic person, she finds it difficult to cope
with strong emotions. At this point, she can't cope at
all. Tears appear in her eyes when I ask her to tidy
up her room as she is scared I will tell her off (where
there is no intention from me to do so). Instead of
anticipating something good, she anticipates the worst.

I do not know yet how we will deal with it. At the
moment, when we watch her programs I try to point
and discuss with Cirwen the characters' behaviour
in difficult situations. I'm looking for social stories
as well.

At school she will have a diary to write down her
experiences everyday. Once a week one of the
teachers will read it with her and try to help Cirwen
see the difference between serious bullying and
easy to deal with teasing. Since Cirwen's "specialty"
are words, this should be enjoyable, but also could
help her in making a better judgement of events.

I am still looking for advice and resources. It is
going to be a long journey and time consuming.
But I know we will find a way. We always do...


  1. Good morning Libertine,

    "I am still looking for advice and resources. It is going to be a long journey and time consuming. But I know we will find a way." -- I like this attitude you convey. You do not limit yourself because of the unknown; you continue to seek options which provide a doorway to hope and success.

    Cirwen is very fortunate to have a loving, caring mother.


  2. She is so fortunate to have you by her side to help her through life. It sounds tough, but your determination does you and her credit.

  3. Libertine,

    This age is difficult for any young girl and more so for Cirwen but she has a strong support system with you and her teachers. The diary sounds like a splendid idea, hopefully it will make a difference.


  4. I am commenting now because you have not posted for a while and I am hoping you are just busy and not too discouraged. This diary that Cirwen is keeping sounds very much like the cognitive behavior therapy used to treat adults with Aspergers, and it has good results. There is a list of common cognitive distortions that people with Aspergers are prone to, and the training involves having them keep a thought record which they then examine to spot the distortions in their own thinking. This is, of course, especially challenging to do when you are in an emotional state and so takes practice and perserverance. The idea is to help them coach themselves positively, and thereby reduce their anxiety level. My children have never had any therapy here, none was available. My oldest daughter has determined that dancing has reduced her stress at work for two reasons. She is more physically fit and has as a result more physical endurance, but (and this was the surprise) learning to let her partner lead in dance (because the man always leads) and seeing the problems that result when she doesn't let him lead have helped her to draw better boundaries at work between her own responsibilities and other's. There was a time when she was blamed (and accepted responsibility for) other people's work and mistakes because she often makes mistakes herself and just wants everyone to get along. I did not think that at her age (29) this situation was likely to change much. So this was a lesson for me, that improvement is always possible and many times special interests will lead to unforeseen opportunities for growth, and even in areas where you don't know how to help, your child's struggle itself will yield progress that will help to generate ongoing hope. I believe this is the most important thing that you can give them and it is much easier to do this if you believe in God. I understand that belief in other people buoys many, but those who are disabled are often seeing people at their worst, so belief in God is much more helpful. When you are feeling exhausted and stuck, nothing succeeds like prayer. I hope I have not offended you, but I have five daughters and even the neurotypical ones were harder on me than on their father. This is the way of daughters and we need to be aware that this is not a reflection on us personally.

  5. I hope things got better.:)

    We miss you here.

  6. eaucoin: thank you, for all your comments. I have taken all of it in with appreciation. I think as you daughter finds dance absolving, mine takes that from drama. You are very right in this. Although I myself am non religious, Cirwen attended a primary school supported by a church, therefore she is educated towards it as well. I leave the choice of religion to my daughter once she is grown up enough to be able to make that decision.

    Alpha, thank you for the push (lol). I didn't even realise how long I was gone...