Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Anxiety of a School Trip

School trips were always something to be excited about when I was little and a high point in the school term.  Our daughter gets so stressed by the whole concept that I wonder if it’s worth the hassle. 

Today her year group had planned to visit our local RSPB centre and with the nice weather we’ve been experiencing recently, it should have been an enjoyable day out.  Last night, the screaming and shouting began as she needed a rucksack to take her lunch in, but wouldn’t use her school one as that’s for school and not a school trip.  Everything is black and white in her world and there is nothing in between.  Then she couldn’t decide what clothes to wear as it was non uniform, which just confuses life as it’s a school day and so uniform should be worn.  Our daughter is fixated by rules and routines, which leaves little room for compromise.  This morning the tears were flowing and panic was setting in – where were the toilets at the RSPB, it was too far to walk, too hot to go out, she didn’t want to take the food she had chosen for her packed lunch etc.

We go through this experience each time something different is happening from the normal routine of life.  We try so hard to offer as much support and preparation as we can, but each time we face the same battles.  Change in routine is a huge difficulty for someone with ASD to cope with.  Fingers crossed as our daughter gets older, she will learn to use the strategies we put in place and will understand that life can be unpredictable and that’s ok.   

As an outsider it can be hard to appreciate that something as simple as a school trip can cause so much stress to a child and the knock on effect it has on siblings.  Our youngest son who also has ASD doesn’t cope well with loud noises, so the screaming, shouting and tears from this morning’s anxiety caused him distress.  He spent the whole time with his hands over his ears to shield himself from the noise.  Both sons can get upset by the level of attention our daughter requires when she is in a high state of anxiety.  There is no easy solution but we get through it each time. 

I collected our daughter from school this afternoon to be told the trip had been cancelled due to the predicted thunderstorms.     I felt like screaming - did we go through all the stress this morning for nothing?!!  But a little voice inside me tells me that maybe today’s anxiety will make the next stressful situation that little bit easier to deal with.  I can live in hope!

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