At the age of 11 we have settled into our life with Isla and autism and all that it brings. Our days are full of love, laughter, compromise, cuddles mixed with a little frustration.
Isla has so much love to give. She loves the people close to her with all her heart and she misses them when they are not around. I wouldn’t say she is empathetic but she is caring and she strives to be kind. She greets people on the street with a friendly hello even when it is not returned (this is often). When I’m stressed she tells me just to “breathe in and breathe out” and she will try and calm me with a shoulder rub.
She cracks us up every day whether she is meaning to or not. Her unique observations of the world and the way she phrases things are hilarious. Sometimes we have to try and keep a straight face but she enjoys making us laugh and never gets offended. Isla is becoming very opinionated as she gets older and she is very clear about the way she wants things done. It's not hard to appeal to Isla's sense of humour. She has always been easy to make laugh and it still doesn’t take much. A good knock knock joke never goes amiss, and her speciality is telling jokes that don’t make sense. She will crack herself up laughing and you can't help but laugh along.
Or should I say bribery! This is an every day occurrence and one I’m glad is effective otherwise we would get nothing done. Get dressed and you can have the iPad. Have your breakfast and you can watch the TV. Go for a walk and you can have the Nintendo Switch. You see a common theme here? Yes Isla still loves anything with a screen. Highly motivating but also highly addictive. There is a fine line here.
Isla will come into our bed in the morning, put her legs in between mine, suck her finger and often go back to sleep. She is very affectionate and there is no sign of this wearing off just yet. Even though she is getting a lot bigger she is still very much my baby girl.
This is caused by the destructive nature of Isla when not preoccupied with something constructive. She has real trouble staying on task and gets very easily distracted. Pens, sunglasses, earphones and light fittings are not safe when Isla is around and will end up broken and discarded. She is hardly aware of when she is fiddling and breaking things. Self-care is still also a painfully slow process. It is so easy to underestimate how difficult it is to practice the most basic self-care tasks. Let's just say this still can be a rather messy affair. Isla also has some other undesirable habits such as burping that we cannot seem to change no matter what course of action we take.
Isla's behaviour is manageable most of the time. If we push things too far or go out without the appropriate toolkit then it can be a recipe for disaster. We know her limitations and we know ours. There is always something we haven’t allowed for but these days it is pretty easy to diffuse the situation using the coping strategies she has learnt, as long as she's not overstimulated. There are a few sacrifices we have had to make in our daily lives. Gone are the days of being totally spontaneous but it is a small price to pay.