Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Child Care and Autism


Most parents are very particular about who they let watch their children.  When you have a child with special needs, you are even more cautious.   Elizabeth is no exception to this dilemma.

When she was little and people expected her to get into things it wasn't a big problem.  As she got older this changed.  I left my job at Royal Caribbean because I had difficulty keeping child care.  This didn't change as she got older.  Once we found a good babysitter, we hated when they went to college or became too busy to watch the girls.  A good babysitter is tough to find, but a good babysitter for Elizabeth was a God-send.   It was a bonus if they didn't try to squeeze us for more money.

So now we live in Everett, and once again we are facing  the problem - child care.   It isn't that people aren't nice, but Elizabeth requires a certain finesse.  One that Allison, Jennifer, her sister; Sarah, and her favorite Miss Heather seem to possess.  I'm sure at some point we'll find someone who is up to the challenge, but for now it's frustrating. 

So here are some of the challenges we face when it comes to Elizabeth.
1. Vivid - as in actively alive and vibrant imagination. This means there are certain TV shows, movies, books that we do not allow her read or watch.  For example:  The Boy Who Could Fly, is absolutely not on the list of approved watching, since I'd rather not require the Fire Department's assistance to get her off of a rooftop or worse yet, a trip to the hospital or morgue because she has tried to fly.
2. Impulse Control - this goes to certain other issues.   While in Florida during our vacation 2010, we visited some friends I knew as a young girl in Yukon.  They offered to take Elizabeth to the pond to see the alligator that was there.  If it had been Sarah at 10 years of age, then I would  have said yes, but Elizabeth would have wanted to go as close to the alligator as possible and would have ended up as alligator dinner.   Not that they would have let it happen on purpose, but she's quick and she doesn't always think or listen.
3. Her own lingo - even though she talks like the rest of us, there are certain things you have to understand in order to understand Elizabeth.   It used to be worse, for example: Two ponytails used to be Josie and the Pussycats, one ponytail was a Polly Pocket.  There are certain things and nuisances you have to be able to get or learn quickly.
4.  Hyper-sensitivity to touch and sound.  This becomes a problem in the evenings especially if it has been a very long day or a day with a lot of differences or changes in her day to day schedule.
 5.  Her imaginary friends - yes, it's true, she has imaginary friends still at 10 years of age.  When you are different from everyone else, lived in a neighborhood without a lot of children to play with your own age, it only stands to reason that Lizzie would have imaginary friends.   Beka has them too, although now that we home school, I foresee them dissipating with time, because they play well together. 
6. Even though she is 10 years old she doesn't often look or act that way.  She is small for her age and she really, really wants to have friends.   This means that sometimes she will agree to do things that she shouldn't and that she knows we would not let her do - so she sometimes requires extra watching.   
7.  Selective Hearing Syndrome:  Yes, many children suffer from this, but Elizabeth seems to have it down to a science.   This is especially true when she is watching TV.

So there are some of our challenges. I am sure there are other parents who have similar challenges and probably some that we don't have.  
Have a good week and God be with you.
In Christ,
Maureen

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