The Giraffes Neck

Authentic BeautyWhen I was in the cosmetics industry I went to the same training session about personality profiling three maybe four times and each time came away feeling deflated and didn’t like the label I had been given. The course had no effect on my sales or management skills as I just didn’t get it. Why do you need to put people into boxes and expect them to behave in the same way day in day out – It just didn’t sit with me.

Fast forward a few years I was attending my coaching training, Once again sat in a training room with a profiling system, a set of enthusiastic peers and a mentor telling us which box we sat in “most of the time”. So I did what everyone else did in the room I paid an amount of money to become certified.  And I am certified DISC profile consultant. Yay me!  I have never used the profiling tool – I should have followed my instinct.

Fast forward almost a decade (I know I am sure I’m not that old) Here we are 2015 surrounded by boxes and types and expectations of how someone should behave due to a symptom, disease, diagnosis and so forth.

Mum has dementia, and there are lots of boxes there to be ticked – it’s not just dementia it is apparently three different variants of dementia. Not one to do things by half is our mum.

Then there is our girl, funny, bright, loud, tenacious, opinionated, determined, very loving, very serious, excitable, caring, awkward, clumsy, and maybe, well OK  probably on the autistic spectrum. We say maybe because there is no diagnosis. But as parents well, you just have a feeling and a niggle. So you get some advice. Referred here, referred there and before  you know it there are meetings to meet at, there are profiles to profile, assessments and forms to fill in, so many forms and so much confusion, did I mention the  confusion?  There are so many words and such long periods of waiting between appointments and so many different departments.

My Dad says she is a character – a one and only. He knows his stuff, six kids, 18 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren and our girl is the unique one how lucky are we!

We know she has problems with speech, reading and writing that’s always been an issue.  At first I was so worried. She didn’t match up to her peers and she certainly didn’t match up to all the proud mummy posts on social media with examples of perfect colouring in and smiley writing. I curse you smiley writing and any form of writing for that matter. But I try my best to see past the academia and see our girl for who she is. An individual, one who we wouldn’t change for anything in the world. Because she sees the world in her unique beautiful way one which we have learnt so much about since she has been in our life.

She is loving and caring. She will run to hold doors for strangers as she wants to be kind to people. She wants to play and rescue animals although she is a bit rough with furry friends sometimes. She is enthusiastic and clumsy this can sometimes be a bit off putting to her peers but did I mention she is tenacious, she will keep going. She has an amazing imagination and vivid recollection.  We once went to see Frozen with subtitles at the cinema, a girly treat. The film started, as the first words were spoken, our girl recited virtually the whole film word for word, I basked in the pride that all the mothers surrounding us were so impressed at our reception aged child was actually really reading the subtitles!

Then there is the quirkiness. Clothes this is the most challenging aspect for me so far, Two reasons.
1) I am now of a certain age and looking for teeny tiny specs of dirt, food, pen etc on clothing is a tad difficult as my eyes just go fuzzy and my arms really aren’t long enough.
2) I am not known for my domesticity and find the whole washing and ironing of clothes a bore so having a child who wants, nay needs to change her clothes sometimes two or three times before we have stepped foot out of the house is tiring to say the least.

Mealtimes are fun (not) she will sit down and decide before even picking up her fork that she doesn’t like it. Patience can run very thin at the dining table.

I read the other day Only compare your kid –  to your kid. Light bulb moment!

As I do that comparison I can see the progress she has made over the past few months her personality is even bigger, her confidence is higher. Partly because I no longer portray a big deal that her reading and writing is so far behind – this is only a small aspect of her. I feel nothing but pride in our girl the progress she has made and the fact that she can recognise the steps she is making.
Remembering to hold her pen and start writing from left to right. She is so proud when she has completed her name and maybe another word or two.

At a recent family workshop held in school. The group was asked what can you not change?  Our girl put her hand up and said “The Weather”. #proudmummymoment
Proud for two reasons.
1) She actually stuck her hand in the air and spoke to the group.
2) That Answer was awesome!!

Teacher was impressed and asked if she could think of anything else She said. “A giraffe’s neck.”
That was my favourite answer.

Is it the right thing to pursue a diagnosis? Remember my inability to pack people into boxes with categories and labels giving them a behaviour type. I recall being in McDonalds once with our boy and he was being a boy and a total stranger came across to me and said does he have ADHD? Nope she advised I get him on Ritalin to sort that behaviour out. That reinforced my aversion to labels and boxes when it comes to human beings.

But our girl is different we know that and we have discussed, thought long and hard and decided yes we are doing the right thing by her. We are getting support, we are getting hints and tips on how to deal with certain aspects of behaviour and yes above all because it will help our girl in the future understand  any issues she may have. She may like being in a box with a label it may give her clearer understanding and enhance her knowledge.

I read a lovely piece on Facebook the other day from a lady called Caroline Boudet she wrote an open letter regarding her daughter. Her daughter was cute as a button as all babies are. She had bright eyes chubby cheeks and lots and lots of hair it was her most striking feature and she also had that extra chromosome.  The lady basically said you don’t call a child with cancer a cancer child, but you would call a child with Downs Syndrome a Downs child.  Sad but so true and something I have been guilty of. So regardless of the box or diagnosis that our girl is given, We will take a leaf from Caroline Boudet’s book and reaffirm that it is not what our daughter is, it is what she has. And our girl has so much other stuff to offer that it really doesn’t matter.

My Dad is so right she is a one off. Yes we are so blessed to have someone in our lives who shows us the world from an enthusiastic, bright, shiny, colourful and funny perspective.  Our life is so much richer and more interesting for having our girl in it. She is our Giraffes Neck and we don’t want to change her at all. But its not about changing or labelling. Its about support, understanding and doing the best we can for our girl.

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7 thoughts on “The Giraffes Neck

  1. I had a lovely little boy in my class who was a one off too. His favourite toy was Noonoo the vacuum cleaner from Teletubbies ( because at 4yrs old he had taken a vacuum cleaner engine apart with Dad and knew exactly how/why it worked) and his favourite colour was purple.
    Now over his year in Reception we had some tricky moments with the numerous social rules that the little people are expected to live by and a few that my little friend thought everybody did.
    Here are just a few……
    : putting your hand up, waiting and still not always getting a turn to speak !!!
    : The ‘behaviour bin’ was for putting bad behaviour in not rubbish !!
    : Not everybody puts bricks away in colour order
    and the best one…..
    : the Head does not have any Hovers in is ‘special prizes’ tin!!!
    That one gave me one of those ground please open and swallow me up moments !!!!!
    All said and done he was a very special part of my class and by the last term he had trained his classmates to his unique, beautiful ways …. lets just say he had a very large collection of purple things by the end of the year 🙂

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  2. My Joseph is 6 and in reception all his teachers thought he was on the autistic spectrum. I decided not to pursue diagnosis as he wasn’t severe enough to get DLA, and school could provide everything he needed without a diagnosis.

    He’s matured a lot in that time, and now he’s just considered a bit quirky and odd. Forget hoovers, Joseph can do that with a heart, he knows all the parts and how they work, he wants to be a cardio vascular surgeon (!)

    Our kids are special and amazing. Labels belong on bean tins and clothes, not kids.

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