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Autism: Why I describe my daughter as a coke bottle!

Autism: Why I describe my daughter as a coke bottle!

I say reaction and not action because it occurs when something has happened that triggers a response that he or she has no choice over, making it an unconscious reaction.

An action is something that is a choice.

My daughter Lola doesn't choose to behave this way.

Sometimes it's impossible to know!

Other times I can see it from a mile off.

Just from little behaviours, the way she acts, or the way she talks. Sometimes with just a glimmer in her eyes.

There are lots and lots of things that trigger these reactions from Lola. And sometimes it can be over the smallest of things,

I don't know wether you've heard of the coke bottle analogy but here goes.

(I once described this analogy to a teacher to help them understand why Lola behaved like she did at pick up time when I got there.)

Imagine I have a bottle of coke.

Lola wakes up in the morning and instantly there are demands placed on her to get ready for school - getting dressed and washed, going downstairs.

The clothes she's wearing feel uncomfortable.

Tags and seams are either too long or too short (they are neither in my opinion but to her they have to be just "Lola" right!)

Remember that Coke bottle you're holding? Shake it a little bit.

It's time for shoes and coats on now, where did we leave them yesterday?

We have to find them, we're going to be late otherwise.

Getting into the car now and putting her belt on, she's being restricted, the seat belt hurts.

Again shake the bottle a little bit.

We're getting out of the car, walking to the school, there are people everywhere.

Where should she look? Who's talking to her? Calling her name? Where's it coming from?

Oh mind that curb, Lola don't go into the road "Say hello Lola", going to class where there are 30 children running around, excitedly, the teacher yelling, this way no that way, coats up, sit on the carpet.

Chairs are scraping, lights are whirring, lots of decorations everywhere.

30 bodies moving simultaneously.

It hurts.

Shake. Shake. Shake.

Starting work now.

She doesn't understand, she can't communicate this, so she does something else, gets told off, for disrupting, or wandering aimlessly.

Shake it some more.

Break time, she's thrown to the wolves - again lots of sensory overload, lots of bodies moving everywhere.

Go and play Lola!

Play with what? I have no imagination!

Play with who? I have no friends! The smell in the dining room makes me feel sick.

Shake. Shake. Shake.

Do your work Lola!

More work time? I'm tired, I'm hot, I'm hungry, I'm thirsty, it's too loud, it's too bright, it's too busy.

I DONT UNDERTSTAND, I need to move, I need to fidget, I need something to chew on...

Oh here I'll just unstick this page and eat the blu tac.

Shake that bottle harder.

Go to Assembly Lola!

It's assembly time now you're making me sit down. I can't sit still, I can't be quiet for that length of time and it's all just too much. 

>Fidget, fidget, grunt, grunt, growl, growl<

Kids are whispering, teachers are tutting.

I copy them because it sounds good. I'm asked to leave. Why is everyone staring at me?

Keep shaking that bottle

It's home time now Lola, put your coat on and get your bags!

It's crazy in the cloakroom. 

Where's my stuff I'm sure it was here...

Arghhhh!

>Bump, trip, stumble, bang<

Shake. Shake. Shake.

DO YOU WANT TO OPEN THAT BOTTLE?

Nope I didn't think so.

But I have to find a way to open that bottle slowly to release the fizz because if I don't, well the consquences are a nightmare.

Sometimes I'm not quick enough and it just can't stay closed any more.

It just goes pop bang and fizzes everywhere.

Sometimes it's when we get home, other times it's in the car on the way home but sometimes it's as soon as Lola comes out of the classroom.

(At that point I am usually met with comments such as, "Well she doesn't behave like that here" or "She's been good as gold all day, Lola why are you behaving like this now?")

It's like the straw that broke the camels back.

She has been holding it all in all day and then I pick her up and ask her to put her belt on and all hell breaks loose.

I have learnt to not talk to her much at pick up time, even when she asks me questions I side step them so as to avoid the inevitable confrontation.

It can be about anything.

Even something that wouldn't normally bother her can trigger one of these reactions.

I have to be so careful when I collect her from school and if she's is in a flighty mood I need to make sure I move swiftly to the car.

Stanley, her brother comes out of Lola's classroom with her so I can grab them and remove them from the playground as quickly as I possibly can to avoid a meltdown.

The last time it happened Lola was hysterical, on the floor, banging her head on the concrete screaming her head off it was heartbreaking.

The bottle exploded!

I want to avoid that again at all costs.

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Jodie Eaton

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