"Not having structure is difficult for me." - Elena

My name is Elena, and I am 7 years old. I live with my sister Talitha, my father and my mother. I like horse riding very much. I go to the equestrian facility to ride Suus three Saturdays a month. I adore Suus! At first I rode in a group, but that caused too much stimulation. Now I get private lessons; I think that’s nice.

I can go to support care every Thursday, from ‘Zorg op Maat’, which is also at an equestrian facility! I get therapy there. For example, the horses, and the guidance I get there, help me gain self-confidence. I become calm when I see horses. I feel accepted, and I know that I can and may be myself. The pony I always brush there is called Jolie. I don't ride her, because I only want to ride Suus. Sometimes I brush more ponies. And I also do other things, like arts and crafts and chatting.

The advantage of autism is that I can ride well and can completely immerse myself in horses. Horses and Toy Story are my biggest interests. I know a lot about them and love to learn even more.
The downside of autism is that sounds are louder. Not having structure is difficult for me. I take language literally, so miscommunication is a reoccurring thing. I get upset when people make ‘jokes’ that I don't understand. It's hard for me to make eye contact, which I don't mind, but some people really want me to look at them. That doesn't feel right.

I also find everything about corona difficult. Last year, during the first lockdown, I had a regression. Suddenly I had to be homeschooled and my structure disappeared. When I switched to group 3 (regular education) after the summer holidays, things really went wrong. I didn't want to go to school anymore and cried every day. I literally got sick of having to go to school every day. My parents asked for help and I got a Temporary Education Place at an SBO school [Special Primary Education]. Now I enjoy going to school again and I feel safe. The TEP spot will expire soon. Fingers crossed that I’m allowed to stay at this school.

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