My daughter does not do well in noisy environments.
Noise is like is her kryptonite.
In smaller, less noisy environments she does exceedingly well. Bring in the noise, increase the number of children and, well, things tend to fall apart.
Both of my kids were signed up for a vacation camp program for 2 days of February break.
They had done it before and it had gone very well. But when they did it, it was on a holiday Monday and the program had only 8 children.
But this week, well, the camp was fully enrolled. On the phone I was told that meant 12 children (doable). But the reality of fully enrolled turned out to be 25 active and loud kids running around.
Suddenly something that was absolutely doable for my quirky daughter became very difficult.
She knew it and we knew it.
So we cancelled at the last minute.
And by the last minute, I mean she walked in the door and then walked out of the door.
She knew that this would never work. And so did we.
My daughter was disappointed and maybe a little ashamed.
She was looking forward to the games, the indoor swimming and the arts and crafts.
To her credit this was not a total meltdown situation.
But it was a frustrating realization for her: This will not work for me.
Well we re-grouped and re-arranged and she spent the afternoon at a sewing class that had last minute openings. And then she spent the next two days enrolled at the sewing vacation camp. It went exceedingly well.
We were all flexible.
I realize that we were quite lucky. The original camp offered a refund. I was able to re-arrange my schedule for the day. We were lucky that there was another option.
I realize that for many parents the only option would have been to figure out a way to make the loud noisy program work. Or cancel and go home without any ability to reschedule their work obligations. I know we were lucky.
But at the end of the day, even though this was inconvenient for me, this is the very thing that my daughter needs to learn how to do.
This is what many of our children need to learn.
Our children need to know how to advocate for themselves. They need to know when something will not be good for them. They need to know when and how to ask for help.
If something does not work, they need to know that often there are alternative solutions that might work out quite well.
For children with learning differences, the ability to calmly ask for support when they need it is a key contributor to long-term success.
Some things will change for our children. Development and all the latest and greatest interventions are on their side.
But some things will not change.
I suspect that noisy environments will always be somewhat problematic for my little girl.
I hope as the years go by she will learn a whole lot of strategies for dealing with them.
She will not always be able to walk away. That is what we are working on now; helping her become more flexible and develop more strategies so she can handle everything that life throws at her.
But I also hope that she will learn to politely and unapologetically ask for what she needs when it is possible. I hope that she will understand what is conducive to her learning and wellbeing.
This is a complicated process and requires a lot of mental gymnastics and inner strength. You need to know what works for you. You need to be able to own that some things are hard for you. You need to be able to ask for things to be different. This is a long-term project.
I hope she will understand that under the right circumstances she will flourish and do amazing things. When she is lucky enough to have choices to make, I hope that she we make the right choices for herself.