Firstly I’d like to apologise for the silence, this blog post is months later than I anticipated! However, there is a reason for that. The LEGO adventure may be put on hold for Canadian reasons. My advanced riding trainer mentioned that she wanted to go and was let down by a friend so I suggested that maybe we could do it with her instead. It will certainly make it a new adventure for Sofia and I having thus far only travelled together, and I think that she is now ready to experience another person on her journey. For my part, it would make the ride more enjoyable sharing the journey with an adult. Nothing is booked yet so I can’t say that we are committed at this point, but fingers crossed it will work out well.
Last time I wrote we were just heading off on a proper holiday, a much needed one, on a cruise. I had booked it the year before knowing that whatever the outcomes of this year, that we would both be in desperate need of space from each other and personal time to relax. It was exactly the same boat that I took Sofia on 4 years ago where she first started to realise that the probability of not liking new things was really quite low and she started to open up to accepting new experiences. This naturally lead to our adventure across Africa.
Interestingly Sofia only remembered specific spaces on the boat where she spent the most time previously, but she doesn’t remember herself and felt no sense of being a different person, older, more confident. For me though it was very different. Sofia was completely self sufficient on this trip and much more able to cope with certain situations like busy noisy spaces, conversations and going with the flow on days we stepped off the boat. She was also much more able to socially interact with the other children on the boat, and especially liked to hang out with the younger children which I think is wonderful sign that she is feeling comfortable practising her social skills in an age range she can cope with. She also socialised with her peer group, however, there were issues, and as always learning experiences!
All in all, it really was a wonderful trip, a well earnt pat on the back for ourselves for what we have achieved this year.
That biggest achievement being Sofia getting a placement at a school that actually meets her needs. And wow! Over the course of this term, the difference it is making is enormous. The first significant thing to notice was that she she was finally starting to experience social situations. Before now, they have just been overwhelming, she would be in state of defensive survival and have no space to reflect and learn. Now she actually has that space and the support to notice and learn from those experiences, but I suppose even more importantly the right peer group with which to have these experiences. And this is another major difference for her. She is now surrounded only by children who are like her, and a big enough group that she actually gets to choose who she is friends with – the confidence change in her as a result of this was dramatic and happened a few weeks ago. She has gone from be painfully desperate to connect with someone, anyone, to feeling confident that she has some social value and can actually participate in making a choice about who she wants to be friends with or not. Well done Sofia! I am so proud her her. The icing on the cake being her first school play at the end of term. She got the part she wanted, the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, and she absolutely nailed it!
With Sofia now exploring pastures new, it has left me at a loose end. The purpose of my life has moved on, and so I have started the journey of rediscovering my identity and a new purpose in life. Things were going well until I had a friend to stay for a couple of months, and to my shock and horror, I watched what focus I had crumble to dust. My adopted parents were finally right – I am completely feeble minded! And I don’t say that in a derogatory way to myself though my parents certainly meant it that way.
I recognised that it was not normal to loose focus like that, and not an expression of depression. Indeed, I would say that my general outlook and mood has been good all things considered. So with this in mind I decided to turn to my trusty friend Google, and the first thing that popped up when searching problems with focus was ADHD, so I took a test on line and I registered as moderate to severe. It was a big shift in perspective for me even though I have to say I was aware of this on some level. And I know I knew, if not implicitly, because when I looked up strategies, they mapped exactly to the strategies I was employing from the beginning of term to move forward with this big change in my life of Sofia going to bording school.
To be clear, I’ve not used the term ‘feeble’ minded about people with ADHD to sanction derogatory perspectives toward those who struggle, though people who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) are likely to view those with ADHD in that way, but more in understanding of how fragile mental focus is with ADHD and how much support it needs through strategies and in particular a strategy of protecting focus achieved from any distracting influences. What is also true however, is that when that focused is achieved with purpose and meaning it is powerful enough to move mountains and can most certainly be an attribute to the success of our adventure across Africa.
Whilst there has been this really good silver lining to my collapse in focus, it is has set me back, and I hoped that by this time I would have a wonderfully clear perspective about the future with my personal goals and most importantly what direction I wanted to go in with Adventure with Autism. Instead, as I write this, I really don’t have a clue and it will take time to negotiate with my brain and reclaim the ground lost in garnering clarity.
Will I seek official diagnosis for ADHD? No. As with Autism (I register on the border line of Aspergers and Autism on tests), the boat sailed long ago, and any supportive benefit I might have received from diagnosis is past. I am old enough and ugly enough, and have enough experience of myself, to learn how to manage these aspects of myself and not let them define me but rather find ways that they can serve me and the outcomes I seek.
Yes it is harder as an undiagnosed adult, firstly just discovering these aspects of self is difficult because we tell ourselves so many stories to avoid dealing with reality, especially one that we don’t want to know about or might mean we have to take responsibility for self, but once the reality is there, the support provided by early intervention has to be learnt through trial and error in a way no one else can do for you and the impact of that time has real consequences in the way it doesn’t for a child – for me it is time lost overall, and the double effort now required to get back onto the wagon so to speak. It is so much better to know what you are dealing with though, without a shadow of a doubt.
So what does 2019 hold for us? Well, in the first instance, both Sofia and I have our own lives to get on with and to continue on our own personal learning curves. Motorbike travel will happen, and as soon as something is definite, I will let you know. What I would really like to achieve though in the next 6 months, is a clear direction with Adventure with Autism. All options are on the table at the moment, from closing it down completely and allowing both Sofia and I to find completely independent directions in life, to becoming 100% committed to fundraising and pursuing other projects that don’t involve Sofia until she is ready to come back to it, if she wants to. If you have any thoughts on what you would like to see happen in this regard, please leave a comment below.
Now if you are still reading well done! This has been a long post! Thank you so much for taking the time to find out where we are and what we are doing. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and a fantastic 2019 with much love from both Sofia and myself.