The frustration of Scarlett’s frustration

In psychology frustration is a common emotional response to opposition. Related to anger, disappointment and annoyance, frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfilment of an individual’s will or goal and is likely to increase when a person’s will or goal is blocked.

This half-term holiday has highlighted Scarlett’s frustrations to me and when I explore the meaning of frustration I can see why my little girl has been experiencing some high levels of frustration over the last week. Scarlett is a very strong willed young lady, with limited motivators in Scarlett’s life, she has a very clear picture of the things she wants and patience certainly isn’t her strong point. An example of this is her favourite piece of play equipment at the park. She just loves the springy bench, whether she is rocking it back and two with her hands or jumping up and down on it, she loves nothing more than to bounce on the springy bench! She also has access to the springy bench in school, which is used as a treat for Scarlett during her learning session. The bench offers her some sensory stimulation which in turn helps her to calm down and apply herself better. At the park, she loves the springy bench and that’s it, any attempts to get her excited about slides or swings fail. Scarlett loves the bench and when I suggest a trip to the park she will chant ‘bench, bench, bench’ until we get there.  During half-term the parks can get very busy with children laughing and playing and the environment becomes so much more difficult to manage. With Scarlett’s learning disability and limited understanding and speech it is very difficult to explain that she can’t perhaps use that piece of equipment just yet… then she becomes frustrated. It can become very hard for Scarlett to enjoy certain things, last week we visited three parks in one day in the hope that I could find one that wasn’t too busy. Whether it’s children banging into her, access to certain equipment or the extra noise. The park is just one example of how half-term holidays can be a great cause of frustration for Scarlett.

Scarlett was very teary last week, she didn’t quite seem herself and no matter what I tried she just wasn’t very happy.

I expect she missed school a little, I expect she was frustrated that places were too busy to enjoy, I expect she didn’t feel too good about her routine being pushed out of place. Even though Scarlett is unable to respond to questions, I do often ask her “What’s wrong darling?” and the response is always the same, a parrot response “What’s wrong darling?”.  I find that quite hard, it’s like having a tiny newborn who is unable to communicate, but one that’s seven years old now. I also feel bad on Sonny, he quite often misses out on doing things as the environment isn’t a good place for Scarlett, and that too as a parent is frustrating. Seeing your child unhappy, fractious, unsettled is a really hard thing to sit back and witness and it makes you feel so helpless.

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