Our local schools asked children to dress up as superheroes or people who are their heroes for the day to celebrate Children in Need.
Thursday evening our house was full of stress as our youngest son is not a fan of dressing up, however as he has a Superman onesie I thought he would be happy to wear that. I was wrong and we went through a number of different outfits until he decided that he would wear a rugby top and tracksuit bottoms and go to school as his brother, who is his hero. He went to bed in his clothes to make life easier in the morning and I thought everything was fine.
He woke up Friday morning struggling to breathe. He has asthma and after giving him his inhaler I thought he would be ok. Instead he kept saying that it hurt when he was breathing and he sounded very wheezy. I took him to the doctors as a precaution as he has been on a nebuliser this year and had to have strong medicine to help with flare ups of his asthma.
His chest sounded clear at the doctors, but as soon as school was mentioned and dressing up, it was clear to see the anxiety levels rising inside him, which were affecting his breathing pattern.
Dressing up is a treat for some children and they enjoy the experience, others like our son are not comfortable with the whole situation. Although we had told him he could wear his school clothes or anything else he wanted to, he kept focussing on the main point he had heard at school about being a superhero for the day. ASD children tend to focus on one thing, rather than looking at the whole picture. Therefore, in his eyes if he wasn't a superhero, he would be in trouble when he got to school. He is very literal in his interpretation and sees life in black and white. He didn't feel comfortable going to school as a superhero as that isn't what he would normally wear to school. As he gets older, he will hopefully find days like this easier to manage.
Our daughter who also has ASD was happy to go to school as Wonder Woman. However, this is probably the first year and she is now Y7, where it has not taken her hours to decide what costume to wear and for her to not be worried about what she is wearing.
Please have some understanding for children who find days that are different from the normal school routine hard to deal with. What may seem as fun for some children, can be the end of the world for others who live by structure and routine and find change hard to embrace.