Thursday, September 16, 2010

A crash course in kid...

We've had an odd few days.

Along with having a nasty, chesty bug that just won't go away, Billy's been on an odd kind of rollercoaster - an emotional one. It's up and down, one minute sadder than ever, next minute really happy, next minute saying really troubling things like, 'No-one thinks I'm any good at anything...' and slouching off to another room (where is is suddenly, magically giggling again).

Catastrophiser that I am, I've been googling anxiety in autism, looking back at the old text books,   looking everywhere for ways to handle this new challenge. I've been trying to focus myself, telling myself anxiety disorders are common in people on the spectrum. It's cool. There are heaps of great books about it. It's not new ground, we can handle this.

I've been reading about biomedical and therapeutic interventions. I read this awesome book called Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid, about two sisters with SN kids - one with autism, and another with peadiatric bipolar disorder... just incase we were heading toward something really, mega-rollercoaster-y.

And still, we would have moments, often when Billy was at his computer where he would stop, sigh and say, 'I'm genuinely not so good at anything at all...'

Billy's language development is an ongoing game, and lots of phrases creep in from  external sources. So, I started looking sideways at the other kids at school, wondering if there had been conversations about Billy's deficits while he was close by. Not that there's anything wrong with that, seriously.  We'd all rather the conversations are open and honest. Billy's well able to advocate for himself, and an questions that are too hard for him will always be brought to us anyway. Hippy school kids have a tendency to overturn every stone they see.

I didn't hear anything (and no short person collared me with questions about different brains or funny wiring) so... I relaxed my Mummy Eagle Eyes at school and resigned myself to the fact that approaching tween-dom was bring with it the hormones of doom.

My suspicions deepened when Billy announced, after a giant coughing fit, 'I really truly am not very well...' Poor fella, he's feeling really bad... this is very unlike him. He's usually the trouper in the room.

When dinner came last night, he slumped his shoulders, shuffled to the table and said, 'Oh no, I will never, ever eat a potato, not even mash...' and burst into tears.

Hang on a minute...

I've heard that before...

So this morning, I went to his computer. First thing I checked was his YouTube history. Many, many repeats of Charlie and Lola. Then I noticed there was a Charlie and Lola dvd in the computer as well. Next to his bed, two Charlie and Lola storybooks. Ooooh kay.

If you are not familiar with Charlie and Lola (or perhaps have been living in a TV free cave for the last few years), it's a lovely piece of English children's television. It centres around Charlie who has this little sister Lola, who is very cute and very very funny. Lola is highly dramatic, incredibly histrionic, deeply curious, very emotional... are you getting the picture.

Billy, the king of scripting, has been mainlining Lola. He is feeling what Lola feels and... saying what Lola says. OK, I hear you... I should have been monitoring the screen time a little better, but he's been sick, and I have to work so... you know.

The interesting part of this long week's journey into Lola is that Billy is actually experiencing emotions that, up until now, he hasn't let himself go near. We're getting flashes of defiance, of anger, of pity, of deep sadness. I know a lot of this stuff can be really problematic, but a life without these feelings isn't ideal either.

So, thanks to Charlie and Lola, we are safely entering new emotional zones. He's rehearsing. He's trying it out. He's going through a crash course in kid, courtesy of the BBC. Thomas the Tank Engine has some fictitious competition.

We're talking a lot about what is Lola and what is Billy. We're making links from the TV stories into his own life. We're trying out Carol Gray's comic strip concept, to try and make sure that these TV scenarios 'come out' in the most appropriate circumstances. We've got the video camera out again, video modeling (funnily enough the dogs at the dog park are awesome subjects. We do voice overs)... We're trying.

I know much of the scripting, and the transference are linked to very real feelings in Billy. It's definitely not easy being Billy. Whether we like it or not, his almost seven year old world is increasingly populated with ghosts and ogres and monsters and scary things. Some of them are real, and some of them are not real, and some of them have a spectrummy veil over them and are a little more challenging to wrangle.

I'm figuring if all else fails, I've got like 80 C&L episodes to mine for life experiences. Between Charlie and Lola and the dog park... we'll fill it all in somehow.

And if I get a minute, I'm thinking The Adventures of Typical Kid (and his sidekick Aspie Boy) would make a really awesome kids TV show...


Amy (DQ) said...

Charlie and Lola have graced our house many times. We met them while still living in the UK. I can see the attraction.
Right now there is a Shaun the Sheep obsession going on. Physical comedy is having a resurgence here...
Another fabulous post. Thanks Valerie :)

K- floortime lite mama said...

Another Fabulous post
How glad am I that i found you Valerie

Lisa not signed in! said...

Big Bang Junior?

Or Aspie Boy gathers the Weirdo Gang and takes over the world?

Or a super-anti-hero group who save the world by each using their special skills, while compensating for each others' disabilities?

Absolutely, in your copious spare time, it'd be great.

Jenni said...

Loving that kids show idea!!!!

Fi said...

Yep - you gotta write the tv show!

Ro said...

We have Transformers and Beast Wars occupying every.spare.minute here at the moment and we've sidestepped C&L.
Such a shame... lol.
Great that Billy is exploring these emotions, :)