Wordy Wednesday – feeling blue


Ms. Wordy Wednesday pops along to say hi de ho to me.

“Cute! He draws quite well. Glad he's conquering his dislike of pencils. The paint must have been quite a challenge too.”
“Ooo you have such a good memory.”
“So that's it then?”
“Of course not.”
“You're very curt today!”
“Ski week.”
“Ski week?”
“They're all off school for a week.”
“In my dreams!”
“So um title……..expressing feelings and emotions perhaps?”
“Very good indeed.”
“He's happy, hence the rainbow?”
“Actually that was a bit deceptive of me. I wanted to talk about depression.”
“Oh. Not exactly my field of expertise.”
“Me neither.”
“So are you feeling a bit down?”
“Not me, him.”
“Which one?”
“The little one.”
“How old is he again?”
“7! Can you be “depressed” at 7?”
“Actually he's had periods of depression since he was about 3.”
“3? Are you sure, I mean, ….how do you know? Has he been diagnosed by a doctor?”
“No, it's just my best guess really.”
“Hmm it's not that I doubt you exactly, ……it's just that…..I've never heard of that before and………if a doctor hasn't diagnosed him then…….well…..it just seems a little unlikely………doesn't it?”
“I tend to agree with you.”
“So what makes you think he's depressed?”
“Well he went to an early intervention class when he was little for a couple of mornings a week. Sometimes, every few weeks, he became unresponsive. He sat in his chair, a rarity in itself, and just wept silent tears.”
“Ooo dear.”
“The staff would ask him what was wrong and he either wouldn't answer or just say that he was sad.”
“That is sad.”
“He'd just be all floppy.”
“Not ill perhaps?”
“Nope, nothing like that, just inert.”
“He’d stop eating too, couldn’t even be tempted by Goldfish Crackers.”
“Really serious then!”
“And of course he became nocturnal.”
“Actually, not nocturnal, just awake all the time. No sleeping at any time.”
“That must have been exhausting.”
“It was a terrible worry because he’d wander around all night and I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to help him if I simply keeled over myself.”
“What did you do about it?”
“Well at first……to be honest, nothing really. I had no experience of depression and we were still trying to learn all about autism.”
“I did remember that the physician who first diagnosed him said to consider medications because many autistic people suffer from depression, especially in their teenage years and had very high suicide rates.”
“He told you that then!”
“Yes, it felt like another slap in the face at the time but thinking back it helped me join the dots.”
“So how often does this happen?”
“Less frequently actually. It used to be every two or three months and last for 3 to 5 days.”
“And nowadays?”
“A few times a year few days.”
“So now he can talk more, do you get any more clues?”
“Broadly speaking, it all boils down to self esteem.”
“Self esteem! In a 7 year old!”
“I know it sounds daft, but so much of it is feelings of worthlessness.”
“Geez Maddy I don't know what to say.”
“That's o.k. I don't really know either. We just do the same for all of them, help them achieve small things that are really huge for them and make sure that they know that we understand and appreciate just how difficult some things are for them.”
“I think we should be doing that for all kids anyway.”
“How right you are.”

On a practical note, there are a few ‘techniques’ [how I hate that word!] that have proved helpful for my children. The first would be “Carol Gray’s” social stories. Mine are of a much more simple, home grown variety, but when they see cartoons of them selves in a ‘book’ where their continued failed attempts eventually end in success, this has proved a great way of giving them positive feedback and reinforcement.

Why does it work? Difficult to say, but probably a combination the following:-

1. Being a visual learner
2. We’re all ego maniacs at heart
3. We know that personalized products are a popular buy line
4. There’s nothing like tangible evidence for the doubting Thomas
5. Many people respond to one on one time
6. ……it’s fun!

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