As the tail-end of hurricane Sandy is pounding against our windows and I'm reflecting on my two older children's concerns of how She will affect their favourite day of the year, I also find myself thinking of how Sophie will view Halloween, now or in the future. Granted some non-autistic 2.5 year olds might also be slightly wary of the tradition or scared even perhaps. But most kids that age are just starting to love dressing up and pretending to be princesses, or knights or pirates. Not Sophie though of course.
So someone asked me what Sophie will be for Halloween. And that rather benign question sparked an entire philosophical debate in my head (have you ever had a philosophical debate with yourself? I seem to more than is probably healthy). And it went something like this.
Autistic kids don't pretend or use imaginative play. What is the point of dressing them up?
Oh come on it's Halloween! Won't she look so cute dressed up as a little bunny? Or Thomas the tank engine??
She will no doubt. But she won't give a crap. Will it benefit her in any way or is it purely for my selfish pleasure?
Well what about those people who dress up their infants? Or dogs for Pete's sake? Do they benefit in any way? But aren't those dressed up dogs ridiculously cute?
They are just. But what about accepting Sophie for who she is? I don't think she is a costume kind of gal. Is it right of me to try to mould her into a "normal" little girl for my sake?
But aren't you trying to do that anyway? What about all the therapies etc? Shouldn't taking part in a culturally-accepted ritual be seen as part of social conditioning?
It went on for a while after that but you get the gist. It's an often-recurring concern of mine; helping Sophie reach her potential and pushing her limits, while allowing her to stay true to herself. I fear it might be all too easy to coerce a nonverbal person, especially one as passive as Sophie. She gets defeated so easily. Of course she is so young still and all toddlers are coerced one way or another in their daily life. I guess what gave me pause is the fact that Halloween is supposed to be fun and I believe that you can't "teach" someone to have fun. They know how to do it themselves, whether we approve or not. So I think this year we will skip the costume and just stick with a cute Halloween shirt I couldn't resist buying. But who knows? Maybe next year the other Me will win.
Oh, and another thing;