Sunday, 26 May 2013

Never Assume....

I think lately I have been guilty of assuming that my daughter is quite happy occupying herself whilst I am either doing the housework, working, etc. when in actual fact, I suspect she might have been feeling very bored and undervalued.  It is very easy when someone is unable to communicate their feelings clearly to think that everything is fine with them,  just because they don't say it isn't.  It's not until things start to go badly awry that you wake up and realise that perhaps there have been signs that you have not noticed or have chosen to ignore.

My daughter is not one of those loud, confident and out-going people with Down's Symdrome that you see - she is very quiet, quite shy and due to her difficulty verbalising, quite lacking in confidence.  If something is bothering her, she will not (cannot) say anything - on occasion I will find a piece of paper with one of her 'essays' on it and notice she has written down a complaint about her life.  When this happens, I try to address the problem and sort it out as best I can.  But that is not always the case.

We have noticed of late that she has become virtually silent at home, answering questions in monosyllables and rarely starting a conversation.  She has also become a bit peculiar in her behaviour - resisting me when I try to help her with personal care such as brushing her hair or straightening a jacket for instance; continuing to walk when I am asking her to stop; other little quirks and tics appearing.  I have been worried for quite some time and did wonder if I have been doing enough to keep her mind active and her self-esteem high.  Since she finished college last year, she has three days a week where she goes to a placement, two at an art studio and one at a social group. One day a week she has a careworker take her out for the morning while I am at work - we have had a few hiccups with this lately, plus the routine has become the same every week which must be dull but my daughter has not asked to go anywhere different. Again, have we assumed that because she hasn't said anything that she doesn't want to do anything different?

When she is home, my daughter spends her time either drawing, writing her little stories or daily diaries, and watching tv - a lot of tv.  I charge around trying to get everything done singlehandedly around the house and garden, as well as holding down a morning job plus working from home during the afternoons and evenings.  As I am so busy, I tend to take over everything in order to get it all done quickly - should I be delegating some jobs to my daughter and biting my tongue when it takes her five times longer to do something than I would?  Yes, I think I should.  I have been making more of an effort to include her in daily activities and it pays dividends - this weekend she has been chattier than for a very long time, and far more willing to join in.

I am embarrassed to think that through some misguided sense of caring I have actually been a major contributing factor in making my daughter unhappy. We all need to feel valued and have a purpose in life - having your every need catered for and being able to sit around all day is fine for a short while, but in the long run must be soul-destroying.

So we will continue to get her up and about, perhaps cooking, using the vacuum cleaner, taking a bit more responsibility, and hopefully be able to repair the effects of the past few months. 


  1. Some times we just get caught up in doing things the easy way, every one is guilty of this, but you have acknologed what is wrong and addressed it, you have amazing insight and empathy, your daughter is so lucky to have you, and in sharing your life you have helped me look at my situation in a diffrent light, thank you for that!

  2. Thank you Niky - the whole idea of this blog was to help people through my own experiences and mistakes, as there was no such source of info available to me as I brought up my daughter. If I have achieved this in some small way, that makes me very happy!

  3. Caroline, I'm moved by your honest self-appraisal here. I think what you're seeing in yourself is a pretty common default approach, and that the more stressful things are, the more likely we are to pick up these familiar tools ("I'll just do it myself!") Yours is a good reminder to share the load, not just for your own sake, but for the growth and self-worth of those around you.