Yesterday we had the opportunity to go to see the circus but not just any circus. This is Circus Starr specially designed for people with disabilities.
With Evie having Sensory Processing Disorder, we have never been to the cinema let alone the circus. She melts down at certain things, noises, change of lighting, enclosed areas to name a few.
With the sensory ‘diet’ that we use with Evie we were hopeful that this time, she might be able to manage and actually enjoy an event. We tend to avoid birthday parties, play barns, cinemas…it’s all too much for her, too stressful.
Circus Starr have developed an incredible app to help prepare people for their show. It’s listed as being suitable for those with autism. Now Evie doesn’t have autism but she does have SPD. She doesn’t ‘do’ change particularly well and she needs a great deal of support in any changes.
So we began to prepare. We played circus – we reminded her that the clowns juggle just like mummy (yes I do have that skill!), that the acrobats spin just like she does, the dancing bounce about just like her and Hattie.
The app was watched by her over and over. This is one of the best apps that I have ever seen. It creates a social story. I was able to put our photos into the story and there were videos for her to watch of the acts.
She did have a meltdown the first time that she watched. But we worked on it, over and over again. We practised clapping and cheering. We had the music on loud. We danced and stomped.
We desensitised as much as we could. We prepared her bag with all her favourite things plus her chews, ear defenders, tanglers. We had the bribery of drinks and snacks in her bag with the knowledge that there was ice cream to be had inside the Big Top.
So the evening came. We drove. All was fine. She was tired but excited. We walked to the Big Top. It was busy but she was prepared. We queued.
Then it began. The start of a meltdown. So we tried to calm her. Ear defenders on. We cajoled. We coerced. We failed.
Now I know that we shouldn’t look at it as a fail. I know it shouldn’t matter. We had Hattie so desperate to go inside and Evie so desperate to run away. We had to leave. Evie was upset. The meltdown was too much.
We bought ice creams and sat in the car. She didn’t calm until we got home.
This morning she talked about the circus as though she had watched it all 😔. SPD is very real and can be so restrictive for her and for us too. For a long time it didn’t make sense. I know we have to regroup, rebuild and keep trying. I know that if we keep trying and desensitising that one day we will achieve Evie being able to attend the circus or something similar.
Thanks so much Circus Starr for the opportunity!
So onwards we go. Maybe next time…..