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How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that occur for children on the autism spectrum

9 Oct

How to approach 5 of the most common difficulties that may occur for children on the autism spectrum.

(1) Sleepless nights: Who ever said it was babies that caused you sleepless nights? Whoever you were you lied. Its well documented that children on the autism spectrum have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, getting to sleep or waking during the small hours.

Now, I don’t have all the answers here, how could I possibly when my child is still awake now at 2.43am! However I have tried things that have had an effect but sadly not for long. Don’t panic every child is different and not every child on the spectrum will have difficulty sleeping. Here’s some tips that have worked for us short term but for others they never stop working.

For those that have difficulty establishing a bedtime routine, consider making a schedule. These can be brought but tend to be costly and can be easy made with some paper, a laminator, some Velcro, brightly coloured pens and some stickers for decorating (I will upload an additional how to post to demonstrate how to do this in the near feature)

The schedule will contain a set of personalised images, e.g… a bed, toothbrush, story book etc… Keep all images in a little pockets attached to the schedule and the child can stick each image on the schedule (with the help of the Velcro) as and when each action is carried out. Many children with autism adapt and even enjoy this independence they just find it hard to do things in sequence without visual prompts. Rember schedules are great for all children with or without autism.

For the Child that can’t settle try story tapes the tone and gentleness of the story teller could well send them off to the land of dreams.

Sensory reasons may restrict your child’s sleep. Weighted blankets, sensory lighting, sleeping away from a window all may help.

Reduce the amount of food and drink your child has one hour or more before bed. Make sure they use the toilet as this combined may avoid your child waking in the night.

(2) Meltdowns: No, these are not the same as tantrums and yes there is normally a reason behind them whether its anxiety, sensory processing difficulties, an inability to express oneself or a lack of understanding.

Those children on the autism spectrum that have meltdowns will often feel completely out of control and are very hard to comfort.

There are times they seem to come from nowhere, yet most of the time a parent will be able to sense one coming (Especially after so many)

There are triggers everywhere and of course these can’t always be avoided, however here’s some tips for certain situations you may find yourself in as a parent to a child on the spectrum.

(a) If your child has sensory sensitivities then be aware of the environment a child is in! You may notice that supermarkets are a prime meltdown hotspot for the sensitive child.

(b) Prepare a weekly schedule, e.g… times, place, events displayed on a visual timetable or planner. Depending on a child’s age you could use pictures or words. This allows the child to know what it is that’s coming next. For a child who is very dominated by a routine, consider making a handheld travel schedule and for those who can afford one, get one on your ipad.

(c) If your child is becoming very confrontational with you, don’t react by arguing back with the child, it will only make the situation worse and will likely carry on much longer.

(d) Be consistent and don’t give in. A child on the autism spectrum can still work out what gets them what they want, which will therefore encourage the behaviour. (I really need to take my own advice here as I’m still having problems with this one).

(e) If safe let your child get it out their system & avoid becoming overpowering.

(3) Anxiety: My own child knows all about anxiety, he drives himself nuts worrying about things that no child should worry about.

Be careful what your child sees on TV. Little man can become very upset, frightened and distressed when hearing something on the news.

Give your child lots of reassurance if they are becoming distressed.

Be careful what types of conversation are taking place in the child presence.

Use social stories as a way to offer the child reassure. When they are fully informed in what will happen, when for example visiting a dentist etc, the anxiety will be reduced.

Speak to your child in a non-ambiguous way, avoiding misconceptions and upset.

(4) Lack of support from external services: You may feel that your child on the autism spectrum is not having their educational or social needs meet. However it is likely that the local authority (LA) will disagree.

Note: In the UK you don’t have to wait for a senior teaching member/SENCO to apply to the local education authority (LEA) for a statutory assessment of your child’s special educational needs as you the parent also have the right to make such a request! However this does depend on whether the child has been assessed in the past and how long ago this was.

If the LEA refuse your request you can make an application to the SEN tribunal.

You should keep letters and documents filed and in-order as you may require these as evidence in the event you need to appeal.

You are your child’s best advocate, if you feel something isn’t right don’t give up on it in-till action is taken.

If able, take video evidence of your child’s behaviour or meltdowns, this can be used when trying to obtain respite, a statement of sen, or even a diagnosis.

When dealing with the LA/LEA or school do so via email aswell as written letter! This will create proof of contact and what was said.

If you believe your child needs more help than they are currently getting then you’re properly right. Trust your instincts.

You have the right to request copies of your child’s educational and medical records. Educational records can contain evidence for a statutory assessment or a statement of special educational needs (SEN). This can be done by using the Freedom of information & Data protection act. School’s will be given 15 days to comply.

(5) Sensory Processing: Children on the autism spectrum are likely to have difficulty with their senses whether the child is over or under sensitive both can create a host of problems.

Here is a few common issues that some children may experience, though it is important to remember that all children are different regardless of their condition. Your child may face all of the examples below where another may face only a few if not any at all.

Tactile defensive: A child who is said to be tactile defensive will have difficulty with the senses relating to touch. This child may not be able to tolerate certain materials (Little man hates raincoats). A child with autism may feel physical pain from wearing certain garments and this may trigger challenging behaviour. If your child refuses to wear certain items of clothing then note down the fibre that is used and avoid these when out clothes shopping.

If your child is expected to wear a school uniform and is sensitive to the texture of the fabrics it is made from, talk to the school to see if there is a way to compromise and maybe find something that is very similar as to avoid your child standing out from his/her peers.

Wear new uniform in just like you would new shoes. Do this for around five or ten minutes per day increasing the time along the way. This can be done during the school holidays

Some children are sensitive to loud noises, others are even sensitive to certain tones and pitches a noise can create, including the way a person sounds when they speak. Be sure to keep your child’s school fully informed of such difficulties so they are aware of triggers, e.g fire alarms, break-time bell , etc.

Try your child with ear defenders and if successful request that your child wears these while in school.

Sensory seekers: Those children who sensory seek may flap, fidget and swing back in their chair at school. This means the child is lacking sensory stimulation, fidget and sensory toys can help.

Make the child’s environment inviting, bedrooms could host a different range of sensory items as well as bold and fun colours being used on textiles and interiors. There are lots of ways to create this type of environment on a budget and I will try to write a post on how to do this sometime in the near feature.

 

Little man takes over the blog!

6 Oct

Well, Hello everyone

Very special post for you all today, a treat for all that voted for me as their Most Inspiring blogger, I’m humbled and still on cloud nine that I won.

Anyway enough off all that, I’m boring every one with my over excitement.

So, as for this treat I have to share? Those who have been following this blog from day dot will know how hard its been and may remember a post I was preparing back in late 2010?

It was in actual fact an interview as opposed to a post.

The person being interviewed would be my very own Little man (aka a boy with aspergers)

Yet things got messy and things were now far to uncertain in little man’s life. I was confused! Can you just imagine how he felt!

I made a claim to the tribunal on the grounds of discrimination against Little man’s old mainstream primary who were now teaching him in isolation, hiding him from ‘Ofsted’ inspectors, excluding him daily, which they did once or twice on an unofficial basis! This soon stopped as I set about learning the Ins and outs of educational law.

Little man was never able to mix with his peers, he missed one school trip after another, till he snapped and began throwing his whole body into brick walls, scratching his arms till they bleed and whacking his head against the wall!

He even sat in a room alone as his peers enjoyed Christmas Carols in assembly.

Final straw was well and truly pulled and I withdrew and become his mum and his teacher for a few months. He then got a home tuition programme on the grounds there were medical reasons.

We were now fighting for an assessment, then a statement. We got both, but the statement wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. Only a few months back did we receive his now final statement with everything in it (OT and SALT)

best of all his attending an independent special school for children with Autism and Aspergers.

We withdrew the discrimination case at the last-minute settling outer tribunal. We now have the apology letter for the heartache caused. It’s not going to repair things but it’s something and little man can look at that one day when he needs to as he often blames himself.

I was also taken to court for Non school attendance, what a disgrace I know! At least I didn’t go to prison, though it was possible.

Now life is better, I look at that mess and think about how stressed and unhappy we were as a family! That’s why I think now would be a great time to got that bit further and let Little man do a bit of the talking for a change, hopefully building up some confidence along the way.

We don’t have a magical tale to tell, just some pretty normal random stuff and a bit about the issues above. All the same we really hope you enjoy reading…

It’s 4 pm Little man returns from his day at school via his transport/taxi. He doesn’t ran off to his room like he always did in the past, things are different somehow now!

He came and sat with me and he spontaneously begins telling me about his day. He received ten thumbs up the highest achievement one could get! I was chuffed and he was just as happy, I could tell by the big fat grin spread across his chops.

Mum: So, Little Man do you fancy being interviewed

LM (Little man) Being What?

Mum: Interviewed!!!

LM: Like on the news mum?

We’ve both done reports with the BBC news and ITN as well as local papers and radio.

I can’t blame him for thinking it!

I explained what I wanted to do in terms of sharing it with readers from the blog. He looked at me like a weird crazy chick.

Mum: If I interview you the readers will hear your own voice instead of your mums!

LM: How, if its written?

Yep he has a literal understanding to which I try my best to avoid them little sayings but they sometimes slip of the tongue.

LM: What do you mean they want to hear my voice instead of my mums! You are my mum!

Yep, I’d hit him with a double dose of confusion!

Mum: Oh,You know what I mean (as soon as I said it I thought what a stupid thing to say).

LM: Umm Nooooo

A little bit more prep and we were back on track (though I avoided making that statement out loud)!

Ready steady go…..

Mum: Hi there, what’s your name and how old are you?

A burst of laughter filled the air!

LM: You know my name mum stop asking me stuff you know.

Mum: It’s not for me, it’s for our readers, come on let’s do it!

LM: Do What?

Mum: The blog… Do the interview!

LM: Oh… *giggles* I know now! My name is G and I am 10 years old!

Mum: *cough-cough, How old?

LM: Oh, Oh, I’m 11 actually I had a birthday on Saturday.

Mum: Sign you’re getting old.

LM: I’m just 11 years old, your very old…

Charming!

Mum: So you have something called Asperger’s syndrome can you tell us a little bit about it if you don’t mind?

LM: I can, Aspergers is a very, very clever thing, But I didn’t used to think this. Some geniuses have Aspergers.

Mum: What… Ginger’s?

LM: Nooooo Genius

A few months ago he would have taken that as me taking the “piss” out of his hair resulting in a meltdown. This time he laughed at my mistake alongside me :)

Mum: are you a genius?

LM: No! Well actually I’m a genius on buses and bus numbers I think!

We then get stuck into his favourite game for a further 10 minutes. I have to shout out random bus numbers and he states their destinations.

LM: Mum, I really Like the lady’s voice who announces your destination on the bus! Is she a computer?

Mum: Umm yes, I think so!

LM: Mum is she foreign?

Mum: What, why?

LM: I just need to know!

He continues mimicking her voice in a monotone type of way!

Redirection was needed, Buses could kill this interview!

Mum: What School do you go?

LM: xxxxx school for autism

Mum: Where did you go before?

LM: With my tutor!

He looks sad as he misses him dearly. The tutor taught him on a one to one basis at the library for 5hrs per day during the week as no school would take him (apart from his current one who the LEA first refused). He was with his tutor at least 6 months.

Mum: What school did you go to before that?

LM: A horrible one!!

LM: Why wasn’t I allowed to play or be with other children. The head told me I was rough and made me miss all trips at last-minute. He made me angry, he didn’t like me.

LM: Mum, I don’t understand why I was never allowed in classroom when I was good? Is it because I have Aspergers so I’m not the same?

Mum: No you’re not the same your better!

Slight smile…

LM: Mum tell the readers about the day he called us at home and wouldn’t let me on the coach!

I said two words and he cried… It still hurts, So we skip it.

Mum: What’s the best thing about your new school?

LM: Time!

Mum: Time… I don’t understand.

LM: You are not told you have 10 minutes or 20 minutes no one rushes you and makes you feel worried about doing work. That’s the best bit!

Mum: That’s good babe, anything else?

LM: The children some are like me. They don’t pretend to like me I think they do.

I’m rubbing a tear :) a happy one of course.

Mum: Whats the best lesson?

LM: PHSE… No, no actually Social skills!

Mum: What’s that then?

LM: Faces and stuff…

Mum: Faces?

LM: Yes, faces and feelings and the way faces look!

Mum: Oh… I see.

LM: We can’t do science in special lab yet.

Mum: Maybe soon?

LM: Yes, maybe!

Mum: What are you good at?

LM: Maths… you know that mum because I’m better then you!

No, his not joking… He is!

Mum: What lesson are you not so good at?

LM: Handwriting, I don’t like it as it hurts my fingers.

Mum: What else don’t you like?

LM: A knife and fork scrapping on the plates like Alice does!

He pulls a funny face and wiggles

LM: It makes me fuzzy mum!

Mum: So, What do you really love like?

LM: Lots… I like buses best ever, then trains & tube and black taxies.

Mum: Anything else?

LM: The word international and music, I like Bruno Mars.

Then his gone…

Mum: “Where you going” I shout!

To which he replies…

“We are finished mum”

Charming, so, bloody charming indeed!

As easy as child’s play

27 Sep

google image

Play, A god given right for all children!

 Its importance is critical to the development of every child regardless of, Class, age, race, gender or ability!

 With every game of peek a boo, every story told and building block added to a carefully constructed tower, your child learns something new & exciting.

 A child may not speak or be able to hear, he may not walk, they may be even confined to a wheelchair, nonetheless this doesn’t mean the child will benefit from play any-less, regardless of a child’s disability, they should be encouraged in play, and will enjoy it like any other child.

 As a mother to three children, I really love playing and interacting with my children, whether its make-believe, a board game or something else all together! Though yes, I do admit it’s not always easy to find the time, yet its something I consider important so try to make it a priority (something we engage in a few times a week minimum).

 As most regular readers will know, my eldest son has Aspergers syndrome which forms part of the autism spectrum. At almost 11 years old, Little man was my first-born, when I was at the tender age of 18. I noticed pretty early on in little mans life that his play style was somewhat different from what I considered to be typical play for a child his age.

 My daughter didn’t come into our lives for a further two and a bit years, meaning I had plenty of one on one time with my developing baby. Games such as Peek a Boo or sing alongs didn’t give of that WOW factor for Little man, instead they sent him into a howling frenzy. 

 Regardless of the above I persisted in my quest, a road of discovery, encouraging my child to engage in interactive play. I knew he got enjoyment from playing alone, I didn’t discourage, though I didn’t reframe from interactive play either! I’m convinced this has been of some benefit to my child now his older. 

 Play helps feed a child’s imagination helping it grow, it allows a child to use creativity while helping them to connect to their surroundings and adapt play to their environment. I believe that play can help a child learn certain roles and requirements while aiding the development of dexterity, physical, cognitive strength.

When your child is on the autism spectrum, play may not be what you typically expect it to be!

 Yes, I learnt the hard way, don’t we all? 

 I learnt that my child didn’t actually require all the latest toys that the boy next door was playing with. My expectations both before and after Little man was born were unrealistic, I had naively assumed that all children played the same way! Play was play, nothing more, nothing less, It all amounted to the same thing! God I had a shock awaiting me and a hell of a lot to learn.

I had no intention on lying to my friends and family when I announced that Little man loved Bob the builder only to end up with a house full of Bob merchandise come Christmas! In some respects I think I half convinced myself it was the case, well he had at least glanced in the direction of the tool kit I had brought him!  It wasn’t just Bob the builder, I was a mother moving with the times & quite honestly the latest craze that I quite often learnt about from the gloating neighbour who would quite often proudly inform me about the latest Spiderman bike her son was now whizzing around on! The next week Little man would have that very same bike, though it remained in the cupboard by the front door only ever seeing the light of day once, twice if you include the day I awkwardly tried to get it home on the bus. This was one of hundreds of toys that were both a waste of time and yes money!

 Looking back as I write this I get a glimpse of how bloody crazy I was! Yes, total denial sweep through me.

 It was only once I had taken a few steps back and observed the situation that both myself and especially little man began to benefit.

 I note… No, Little man did not like playing with Cars (though he quite does today) he did however love spinning the wheels over and over again! I decided that actually that was OK.

 I note… No, Little man did not love Bob the builder (though I only wish I had kept all that merchandise as my youngest is Bob gaga) though he did love Thomas the tank. I decided again, that was fine!

  I discovered that between the ages of 2 and 7 Little man only ever really played with train sets and transport mats despite his bedroom now looking like the Disney store!

 Finally I excepted this!

 I stopped focusing on that Little boy next door, therefore letting go of that, “My child should be playing with that toy” scenario! I focused on the Little man instead and what I saw was no longer what I felt I needed to see through my own stereotypical rigidness, I now saw Little man for the child he actually was! I successfully learnt my first very valuable lesson about play! 

 “Play is unique there is no right or wrong way of doing it”! 

 By stepping into Little man’s world while taking small steps to engage with him in this child lead play I noticed he slowly became more interactive, wanting me to take an interest in his games. 

 Yes, all along I just needed to go with the flow (so to speak) I needed to embrace and celebrate his interest, a massive milestone

 Oh, and did I mention that big credit should be given to my wonderful daughter? Siblings can actually be a massive source of learning  for the child on the spectrum, Alice-Sara certainly was!

 Alice-Sara was that child who played like I also assumed all children did! She played the way I always expected the Little guy would!

 Through sheer willingness and determination his younger sibling did something wonderful without really knowing it! She introduced her older brother to role-play! She taught him the value of this type of play and helped him develop the tools needed to engage in it!

 google image

 It is this aspect of play that I firmly believe is the true instrument needed for a child with Aspergers to progress.

 I don’t know if Alice-Sara just longed for this type of interactive play from her older brother, but as a small child she fought to get it, and she did!

 OK, it isn’t perfect, as much as he is able to engage in such play it is still largely ritualistic and he can become overly controlling often using his younger sibling as a play object, yet his come a long way!

 However ritualistic and Un-spontaneous his play maybe, his sister has successfully taught him how to play schools (a game he still plays today, though it always involves a school “bus”) he also loves playing shop keepers and hospitals (if his the ambulance driver of course)! 

This variety of play offers so much to the child on the spectrum. The child will learn important social interaction skills, and a number of other important life skills they will acquire in life. 

 I’ve seen my Little man go from the child who really did prefer the box as opposed to the toy that came in it at Christmas (mainly due to what I was giving him) to a child who now enjoys play so much more and through he still does it alone, he is much more willing to play with his peers even if they don’t always oblige to him joining in. 

 Yes, he still has them “odd” items on his Birthday and Christmas wish list; Batteries padlocks, neon electric fly zapping lights; and 20 cans of DR pepper to name a few; yet he also loves, computers, lego, model buses and trains, bikes, scooters, board games and magic tricks. 

 Recently I saw a worrying statement 

“As easy as child’s play don’t apply to children with autism”

 That is bum fluff!”

 “Just because it isn’t typical doesn’t mean it isn’t magical!” 

I learnt that the hard way, I hope you don’t!

How well do you really know your child’s teacher?

18 Sep

How well do you know your child’s teacher? This Is a question I’ve had to ask myself a number times!

After a recent discovery, I would suggest you ask yourselves that very same question, regardless of whether your child has special educational needs or not!

Here’s why…

A few days back I made a horrid discovery that meant I had to continue on with my day with this great anger manifesting within me.

I had this inability to filter out the hideousness of it all, my blood was boiling and a thousand questions bashed away at me.

  Last year I joined the TES social network and forum. No, I’m not a teacher, however It was during a period of home schooling my Little man as a way to avoid permanent exclusion. I have seen some things on the site that I normally take with a pinch of salt, yet a few days back, on receipt of a monthly newsletter that changed.

The TES website is the main and biggest UK resource for educators or those working within education. It contains job listing, a resource centre, the latest updates in relation to education, a forum covering a large area of subjects up for discussion, downloads including work-sheets etc, and much more.

On opening the email I discovered the updates were all mostly aimed at new teachers in-way of tips and advice. As always I had a quick scoot through to see if there was anything in relation to SEN (Special educational needs) and the pending ‘Green Paper’ when something caught my eye. 

The header read: NQT (Newly qualified teachers) Advice

and under that a link that read,

“Arm yourself with a few of those tried and tested one liners and you’re ready to deal with the thickest pupils” 

 curious I hit the link and was taken to the TES Forum

It was here that I unearthed one of the most disgusting threads I have ever read.

This thread contained over 600 comments from UK teachers, there was over 60 pages and posts,  dated from 2008 to the current date.

This thread contained one liners and put downs provided by teachers, these contained methods of humiliation, bullying, discrimination, sarcasm, abuse, threaten violence and inappropriate  language (including that of a sexual content)

Now before I go any further, please let me explain why this thread had me so mad it had reduced me to angry tears!

First the comments were worrying and the one liners should not be used on ANY child, the way the teachers spoke to each was worrying, and the names they publicly referred to us and our kids, Sickening!

Secondly, My own son with Aspergers has been treated in such away and as a result he has self harmed by smashing his whole body into brick walls, banging his head and scratching his arms till they bleed. He, like many others with some form of autism, tends to take things with a literal interpretation meaning the use of  metaphors and sarcasm are most dangerous.

Below is an example taken from a screen shoot. This key stage one teacher isn’t particularly rude, however the way in which she speaks about her young pupil is cold and frightening. She states he winds her by not sitting still and continuing to touch children and objects (playing with their hair etc) I don’t know if I’m correct, I’m just a parent, but some of what she describes here highlights possible autism traits or SPD even.

All she wants to do, is give him a right telling off, but instead choses to mock him in front of his peers.

Classy!

If this child does have a condition like those I’ve stated above, or some form of special educational needs, this will undoubtedly knock an all ready low self-esteem.

Is this how you want your 7 year old treated when at school?

Now, Im sorry if this post is rather long, it would have gone on forever if I the time to include the high number of comments that outraged me so much I blogged about it!

I have taken some screen shoots but will not be able to include them all, I shoot over 100, So, I’ve also quoted a few of the so-called “tips”, and hideous boasts provided by what are meant to be highly qualified teachers.

The fact is, that there are over 600 comments within this one thread from Teachers who started commenting back in 2008, when the thread was started and happily continue on today in the same disgusting manner is highly wrong.

There were only a handful of outraged teachers who left comments to state their shock at some of the comments left by those who are sadly in the same profession, however they just responded by mocking them and starting nasty argumentative comments, nevertheless it was comforting to see one or two teachers who cared.

With over 600 comments, what’s the chances that one of these teachers is the teacher of your child?

Maybe not today, maybe not even next year, but one day!

I say let’s speak up for our children!

Lastly, before I share some of these shocking statements, I ask, how is it, that this hasn’t been picked up by the media?

Has it? if so why don’t most know this thread exists?

What ever the reasons, it’s worrying that our teachers are quite openly sharing these sick so-called ‘Tips’ while laughing their arises of at our children.

I warn you, If your easily shocked, then GOODBYE you really should stop reading NOW!

Below is the very first comment (which kicked of the thread in Januray 2008)

‘I’m having a real problem with behaviour at the moment. I’m not very good at quick responses to pupils comments. I know I shouldn’t get in to a discussion with them but I’d like to have one liners to use.
Can anyone think of any common things pupils say, and a quick come back that works. Other than of course just ignoring it, which I try to do with most silly comments.
Here’s one…
“This is boring..”

OK, guys here are some of the responses and in no particular order! (Note I corrected many of these teachers spelling mistakes, that’s shabby)

“To the usual issue between students with one complaining.. sir he…

‘Hold on….. you are mistaking me for someone that cares….. sort it out without violence’walk away and ignore the 2-3mins of poor behaviour” 

“There a fine line between comebacks and getting aggressive to get your revenge – normally the line depends on how much sleep I’ve  had”

“I teach a mixture of abilities in years 10 and 11. I remember a particular individual being silly and making the odd comment. My reply on one occasion was “how Jovian”. The individual thought this was a good thing. But the brighter students knew. They knew I was referring to the Jovian (as in the planet Jupiter) atmosphere between his ears. . . . Dense and uninhabited.”

“To a very mouthy, arrogant year 10 kid, who constantly demanded my attention “Miss, I NEED HELP NOW!”.

In a gentle, caring voice: “I know sweetheart, but you’ll have to accept it’s going to take some time. I’ve spoken to various pyschologists and psychiatrists, and we’ve agreed that, with a careful program of support and intervention, we may be able to help you”  

“What’s wrong with verbally flattening pupils, showing them up, if it’s what they need?”

“48 – Excellent answer.

22 and 44: “Are you gay?”

Reply:
1. “No, but thanks for the offer,”

2. “No, but I would be if I thought my next kid would turn out like you.”

3. “Let’s keep that between us.”

4. “No, but I’ve slept with a few people who are.”

5. “Yes, but I only fancy attractive people, so you’re safe.”

In regard to self esteem, if dwarfs can threaten me with violence and imbeciles can call me stupid, I think they’re not lacking in self esteem, merely in contact with reality: if they don’t meet defeat in the safe environment of me answering them back (however uncaring this might seem), then they will in later life when someone less patient punches their lights out (which is rather more uncaring.)”

“Y9 boy, ‘Sir, why do you support Millwall, they’re s**t!’

Me, ‘I know, but you’re ugly & your mum still loves you’.”

Whenever a kid says something along the lines of ‘You can’t tell me what to do, you’re not my dad’ I reply:

‘No, if I was you’re dad you wouldn’t be so ugly’

Today a child working said “this is shlt”. My reply was “Your work usually is!

“Ooh, ooh! I just can’t wait for September now I’ve seen this!”

“When some little darling is swearing at you say! Please stop swearing, you’re not at home now”

“To a child who is being loud, unruly, unco-operative etc:
“Look at Brett everybody, he’s forgotten to take his pill this morning. See what happens when you forget your pill”

 “Child: You’re gay sir

Teacher: Even if I was, I wouldn’t  fancy someone as ugly as you! Child: you’re a  crap teacher

Teacher: Perhaps, but at least I can read and write”

“Me muttering when walking away; ‘soap in a sock….leaves no marks…’
they look worried at that, think you have gone mad…”

“This is school, not the Muppet Show. “

“Best one ever was;

kid: ‘Do you use contraception miss?’

during a year 9 PSHE lesson. I was speechless for a second and then responded with;

‘Yes, I usually stick your photo to my boyfriend’s forehead, and it seems to do the trick!”

At which the other kids collapsed laughing and after about ten minutes of looking blankly at his exercise book, the kid in question said ‘Are you saying I’m ugly?”

 

“one of the best I heard was pupil to pupil.

Pupil 1: you’re f*cking ugly!
Pupil 2: yeah, well your mum ain’t complainin’ !”

“Ah bless, are you finding this really difficult? Usually works…”

“I have also managed to convince my class that the IWB projector, smoke detectors and alarm sensors in the school contain cameras-I’m sure this wouldn’t work with any children older than KS1 …’
Actually it still works with Year 9!”

Just remember that the Government plans to up teachers powers when dealing with behaviour!

Can you just imagine what will happen then?

Click here for the TES website & here for the thread in question.

Please leave your comments to show your thoughts and help get some action.

A boy with Asperger’s get’s sponsored for the Mad blog awards

8 Sep

 This is it guys, it’s almost here, on September the 30th I’ll be of to the “Mad blog awards for the awards ceremony in London’s Soho.

 What makes this all the more exciting, is the fact that somebody likes the blog so much that they have agreed to sponsor me!

 These day’s it isn’t just footballers and big name brands that get sponsored, but bloggers too! 

 When looking for a sponsor I wanted to find a brand or company that were passionate about what they do, in the same way I’m passionate about my family, raising awareness for autism and my love of writing and of course blogging. As well as this pretty huge requirement, I also wanted the companies brand/product to fit in with the overall theme of the blog.  So, for me this would be a brand that deals with parents but with the added addition of autism.

 Well, I’m pleased to say, that I think I found this and a whole lot more in my sponsor. Yes, I’m both incredibly excited and delighted to be working with them!

 So, without further delay…

 My Sponsor for the Mad blog awards is…  Drum roll please …

  “OPTIBAC PROBIOTICS”

OptiBac are an independent family run business with a passion for Probiotics almost as big as my passion to create awareness for autism and help families dealing with diagnosis and the challenges it may bring.

 For those who have no idea what Probiotics are and how they relate to autism, let me explain!

 What are Probiotics?

 Probiotics are live microorganisms  (more commonly known as friendly bacteria) and are something we all have, and need within our own bodies. This bacteria, alongside Pathogens, (Bad bacteria) can be found living in our intestines. It’s the good bacteria’s (Probiotics) that are needed to ensure good digestive health, while playing an important roll in keeping our immunity and energy levels high.

 It is important to have a good balance of both good and bad bacteria, and although we produce both, it is often the case that the balance needed becomes fragile. This is a common occurrence what with, Stress, ageing, travelling, high sugar levels and more, all being contributing factors.

 When our bodies experience an imbalance of the two, a person may experience symptoms, Such as, low energy, bloating, allergies & food intolerance, skin conditions such as eczema, heartburn, Diarrhoea, constipation, thrush, IBS and more.

 Probiotics and autism

 It is well documented within the autism world that the link between autism and digestive health is a pretty big One, with hundreds of thousands of children and adults with an autism spectrum diagnosis, having some type of ongoing digestive/Gut problem, that quite possibly requires some form of treatment, medication or diet requirement. 

 I, myself have heard a mass of stories from other parents of children on spectrum speaking of their child’s poor and problematic digestive health. 

 Just a few days back, a thread on my facebook page,“A boy with Aspergers” highlighted the high number of children with poor digestive health against a very minute few who have little or no issues, to be rather substantial.

 Though my own little study proves little, there has been a great deal of research involved in discovering if there really is a link between the two? Most results indicated that, yes there is!

Check out these few sites, ‘Food for the brain‘ & ‘Incredible Horizons’,  

 I have come across many parents and individuals who are trying to improve their child on the spectrums digestive health by changing the way they eat. If you are a parent to a child on the autism spectrum or you yourself are on that spectrum, its pretty likely that you have come across terms such as, lactose, gluten or casein! These naturally occurring proteins, can all be found within the foods we eat and children and adults with autism can be extremely sensitive to such ingredients (food intolerance) however it is thought that such occurrences could be due to the imbalance of probiotics and Pathogens (friendly and not so friendly bacteria).

 Most children with autism, already have a very limited diet and although there are plenty of Gluten-free and Casein-free foods now on the market, many parents experience a great deal of problems trying to introduce this to the child with ASD. Another important factor to remember, is the differing finds within scientific studies when it comes to eliminating these food groups and the true benefits for the child with autism.

 Little man is a child who has some degree of problems with his digestive health, mainly maintaining his regularity and the stomach cramps this causes him. His diet has improved over the years though not greatly! It lacks a lot of the healthy foods. His eating habits are quite limited and he therefore quite shamefully gets by on chicken or bacon. He also has a great fear of public toilets and certainly wont do a number two anywhere but when at home or when visiting one of his two grandmothers, which of course does nothing for his digestive system. So, of course I put these issues plus his terrible habit of wind breaking down to the above, but lately I’ve been forced to rethink, looking at the whole picture. You see, I don’t really know if little man has any food intolerance, though even if  he did, the work needed to change his whole outlook on food would be a great challenge! So, if there is a possibility that a supplement of probiotics could help balance out his good and bad bacteria, I’m up for giving this a try!

 You see, it’s not just problems with the gut that children with autism experience, but also a mass of other problems, such as, behaviour problems, poor sleep, anxiety and more! Again little man suffers quite severely from all listed.

Research into the probiotics has found that a daily dose of certain strains of probiotics given to a child with autism can dramatically improve areas of concern such as those listed above (especially poor behaviour and concentration levels).

  More about the, ‘A boy with Aspergers’ sponsor, ‘OptiBac’

 These guys are awesome, and yes, they know all there is to know about probiotics! They are in-fact the UK’s best selling probiotic range and are unique in the fact they use specific probiotics for specific health conditions, meaning there is a probiotic supplement right for each and every one of us. OptiBac Probiotics are so safe most can be used while pregnant, breast-feeding and some can even be given to children as young as 6 months old. With this and the fact OptiBac offers its customers affordable probiotics, aimed at each ones particular concerns, makes this a really trusting brand.

 Strains of Probiotic

Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 is one of the most commonly known probiotics and is actually used within five of the nine OptiBac supplements. The probiotic strain is often combined with prebiotics (prebiotics, is a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut) and is a good aid for health conditions such as IBS, reducing the risk of yeast infections and can even minimise the risk of diarrhoea, especially in travellers. Rosell-52 is used within the children’s range (from 6 months-12 years) This same supplement is also safe to take when pregnant or breast-feeding , so is therefore recommend to both children and expectant and breast-feeding mothers. (this is the supplement Alice-Sara and little H started today). The species ‘acidophilus’ can also be found within the premium range, such as, ‘Extra strength’ which consist of a further four strains of probiotic and contains 20 billion live probiotic microorganisms per capsule. This is the species we have started little man on this morning, which is given in the form of a capsule! Little man is used to these as he takes Melatonin to help aid his sleep at night, so, he had no problems taking it!

 There are many other strains of Probiotics that OptiBac use in their products and with each strain a different dosage helping to combat a persons health concerns in the most natural and healthy way possible . The above example is just one of many strains and more detailed information can be found over at the OptiBac website within its resource centre, You will also find a full list of the probiotics on offer and what each can do to benefit your health. 

 You will find that most if not all, probiotics are approved for use, if you are a vegetarian or on a gluten or Yeast- free diet. They all contain no added sugar, (Sugar can actually counteract the benefits of the added friendly bacteria, which is while Probiotic yogurts are not really recommend, due to the added sweeteners and sugars) lastly they are free from artificial colouring.

 OptiBac really impressed me, yet we’ve only just began our journey discovering the potential benefits for children on the spectrum, like my little man, and my families health as a whole ( Yes, that’s right we’re all having a go !) 

Alice-Sara and baby H are taking the,For your children’s health supplements (for their general everyday good digestive health) £16.34

Little man is taking the, ‘Extra strength’ capsules (to help with digestive health and improve his bloating and stomach cramps, that maybe a symptom of his autism). £22.49

and as for me, Im taking the New, ‘Maintaining Regularity (for my IBS and bloating, though don’t worry, I’m not about to start blogging bowel movement updates). £24.98

 Other products that look great are, ‘Flat stomach’ and ‘For those on antibiotics’ (That’s the actual name of the product) which is a fantastic supplement designed to replace the bacteria’s that antibiotics kill, causing symptoms such as trash (it’s happen to me and I only wish I had known about Optibac)!  This is just one of the many side affects that can result from taking a dose of antibiotics. 

 So, there you have it. The brilliant OptiBac are my Mad blog awards sponsor and will be so kindly putting me up in a lovely hotel on the night of the awards. 

In the meantime I’ll be taking my daily supplement and hoping my bloating stays away on and before the 30th

 Make sure you all look out for updates, to discover how the probiotics are working for little man! Will there be improvement in his digestive health, sleep, behaviour, or very poor concentration? Let’s just wait and see.

 Please show some Love and like OptiBac on ‘Facebook or follow them on twitter. Also don’t forget to check out the OptiBac website Just pop on over to any one of these and say hi. I would really appreciate it and I bet they would too!

OptiBac in London … Catch OptiBac in London between the 5th-9th September 2011

The guys at OptiBac, have one of their very own Naturopath’s visiting a number of London stores and are inviting you along for some free health advice and special offers. Check out the site for locations. 

NOTE: We are not after a cure, we love Little man the way he is. OptiBac nor myself are claiming such nonsense. I’m just pointing out that yes, children with autism do tend to have digestive/gut problems and Probiotics may help improve this and maybe some of the difficulties listed above. If you’re looking for a cure, then I’m afraid you wont find one in probiotics or any other source for that matter!

Toys for the sensory seeker

24 Aug

Some children with autism and SPD love the sensation they get from certain tactile experiences.

Little man can is very tactile defensive, but also seeks out certain textures. He is a child who becomes very anxious and one who likes to fidget.

When Little man broke up from school at the end of term (autism special school) his teacher gave him a gift called a squishy mesh ball. The ball is very sensory friendly, filled with a goo like substance, the ball is covered in netting and when squeezed the ball pushes though the netting and appears all bubbly. Little man loved it!

Just over a month later I was sent a link to a website so that I could check out some products to review. The site is owned by a well known retailer called ‘Hawkin’s Bazaar’ I was overjoyed at what I discovered! So many of the products just throw themselves at me. These are toys at silly prices that many  children with autism, SPD (sensory processing disorder) & ADHD would not only love but greatly benefit from. I even came across that Little squishy mesh ball, little man loves so much at the bargain price of £2.50.

I picked four items that came to a total of just £10.50 these were…

1x Little terrors £2.50

 1x The Germies £2.50

1x Pack of bath crayons £4.00

1x Flexiface £1.50

Little terrors, The Germies and Flexiface can all be found on their website under the category labelled, ‘Stress’ Here’s my opinion on why these are great for children on the spectrum!

Both Little Terrors and The Germies are toys that have been designed to offer some kind of comfort as a stress reliever. It is said that such items are beneficial because when held and squeezed it helps to naturally clam the person/child down, removing the stress, giving them something else to concentrate on. 

The Child with autism get this same comfort when feeling anxious, stressed and upset. It also provides the child with some degree of sensory stimulation. It can be used to redirect certain other behaviours such as hand flapping while also working as a fidget for the child who feels the need to constantly use their hands. Just by holding one of these the child maybe able to concentrate on school work, or remain clam in a challenging, stressful situation.

Another fun thing about the Little Terrors and The Germies that make them really appealing to children, are their design. Both are designed to resemble little monsters if you like, and when squeezed both give a great sensation and visual experience. The Little terror felt as if it was filled with sand, however once sqeezed you could see it was filled with lots of little balls. If you sqeezed slowly, you could then carefully remove your hand and the balls would stay in place making it look like monster brains (if you know what I mean) well if you don’t just check out the picture below!

Little mans favourite the Fexiface can be used for all the above and so much more. This is a toy that I remember as a child. My mother brought me a Fexiface some twenty-one years ago or more when I was around eight. I remember it well, it was during a day trip to Margate, we brought it from a joke shop. The Fexiface has three little holes on the opposite side which you insert you fingers into. You can then move your fingers about which causes the fexiface to change facial expression. For such a small price this is a toy that can potentially help your child learn how to better understand facial expression. Though I’m sure Fexiface was never created for such a purpose as this, it sure does a great job at it. Myself and little man played a game where I would ask him to change the fexiface facial expression to a display a face that was happy, angry, sad, etc. We had brilliant fun and for me it brought back some lovely childhood memories.

Bath Crayons are excellent. These are great for the creative child. They come out really well and we used them on the bath room tiles. All three of the children had fun drawing on the bath room tiles while actually being allowed to do so. Little man hates sitting in the tub. Again this is for sensory reasons, he would rather stand and wash under a power shower, sitting in the bath makes his skin wrinkle which upsets him. The Croyons are a great distraction and in a way helped him to relax.

The other great thing about Bath Crayons is the fact you can use them as a visual aid. If your child uses symbols to help them sequence things, like a bath routine these are perfect. You can easy draw the symbols on the tiles, allowing your child to wipe off or even cross out each action they have carried out. A great alternative to using magnetic or Velcro visuals as despite them being made to be waterproof, the stream and condensation from the bath will eventually have an impact on this type of product.

We had great fun testing all the products and would highly recommend these toys as sensory products as they offer this feature and so much more.

So, why not check out Hawkin’s Bazaar online or visit your newest store where you will find the above and more. 

Note some toys/gadgets aimed at adults only. 

Win a Mommy I’m here teddy bear child locator

2 Aug

A round a month back I published a post sharing a review of a fantastic product, “The Mommy I’m here, Child Locator” I tested this awesome product that came in the design of a teddy bear that could be attached to a child’s belt or shoe, and was blown away by it! 

 The post was titled:

 ‘Revolutionary device designed to keep children from wandering could benefit families of children with autism’ 

 I had quite a few parents discuss the product review with me via twitter and Facebook, showing a real interest in how it works and some asked, “Was it as good as I made out?” The review was completely honest, I love the Locator and continue to use it on my 20 month old toddler.

 I’ve heard to many devastating stories of children getting lost, injured and some even losing their young lives, due to them wandering out off sight. These stories seem to involve very young children (pre-school age) and those with special needs (a lot of the time autism)

The wonderful creators of Mummy I’m here child locators are letting me run a competition to give one of these locators away… I’m frilled as this is a product that can potentially prevent a tragedy.

 Too read the review click HERE

To win a Mommy I’m here child locator all you have to do is

Follow Safegirl on Twitter

Visit the Safe girl site and check out the other alarms and locators in the fantastic kids range

 then come back and tell me what other product and design(s) you like also letting me know that you now follow Safegirl on twitter 

(Important, Please only send One comment informing me off all the above! Others will be deleted).

Optional extra entries  

Subscribe to this blog

or 

Follow me on Networkblogs (Link in sidebar)

A comment can be left for each one of the two optional extras meaning no more than three comments in total

The alarm is availably in two colours. The winner will be able to make a preference for which colour they want prior to the prize being dispatched.  

T&C

Please Make sure you leave appropriate contact details preferable twitter id or email. All those entering must be from the UK for delivery purposes. The competition will close on the 25th August 2011 Mid-night. The winner will be drawn randomly the following day. Please note that those who do not respond to claim their prize within 5 days of the drawing may lose their right to claim and the prize will be re-drawn.The prize will be sent to the winner directly from the retailer so addresses will need to be passed on for delivery purposes. 

We all have a right to life

31 Jul

     We all have the right to life!

 As I sat reading through some old post on the blog (as you do) I was drawn to a post I had published in March this year, “With the rise in Measles it’s decision time”

 It was clear from reading the post that the issues I had raised were ones other mothers had felt the need to contemplate at a stage in their children(s) earlier years. It was of an issue full of controversy and remains to be this very day. I wrote it because I needed to express my fears, yet I knew the possibility of a debate could be raised, it was clear I didn’t need nor want one! I was lucky the post didn’t become overloaded with anti vaccine debate, (Shame the same can’t be said for Facebook).

 However, given some of the more recent events that have occurred in my life, I felt the need to write this now and have done so without fear of a verbal battering from overbearing “Anti vaccine campaigners” At this moment in time I’m ready for you, So bring it on!

 So, what is there to say now that couldn’t be said in March?

 OK, here it goes! 

 Dear Anti Vaccine Campaigners  (Yes, those whom have chosen to campaign against the use of vaccine as a way to immunise our children)

 I do ask you ever so politely to please reframe from sending me emails requesting my signature on your anti vaccine petition! Please do not try to add me to your anti vaccine groups on Facebook! I do not want to Re-tweet your anti vaccine tweets when on twitter, nor do I wish to hound those who have chosen to vaccinate their children preaching to them what it is that you believe! 

 Why?

 Because It’s not my belief , nor do I intend to make it mine!

 So, here’s why

 On the very first day of October some ten, almost eleven years ago, I gave birth to the beautiful baby you all know as, “Little Man” It was the year off a new Millennium it was the year 2000. “Me”,  I was just a teen, a very young eighteen (Yes, mum I know that now)

 As the months passed quickly Little man grew and before I blinked he was a toddler. I grew a great deal too! Yes, of course I grew older, “Don’t we all” the growing I’m referring to, is that of the person I was becoming. Little man was a blessing a baby that never cried,(Except for when he had horrid colic) he was a baby that my mother referred to as a, “Little angel” He was easily fixated to the colours that flashed from the telly, the trains at the station and the wheels on his toy car. I weaned him with little problems (apart from his particulars  for finely mashed food). He was a baby and toddler that met all his developmental milestones, even exceeding a few! Yet looking back it was there! The clues, yet so little… What first time mother would notice? My Little man did certain little special things (Yer, they were different, different but oh so bloody amazing all the same)! Admires would glance at him cooing about how clever he was. He walked at a reasonable age through never crawled. He spoke, he spoke too well at times. I considered him a cheeky little monkey as he took my hand using it as a tool to point and pick things up for him. Lazy I had thought! But how wrong, how lazy he was not! Fully potty trained throughout the day and night before the age of two isn’t what most would describe as “LAZY!” 

 My Little man had all his required vaccinations at all the required times! Of course this included that of the MMR and although he almost broke that nurses nose when he delivered an almighty head-butt right on the shaft of her hooter, when attempting his getaway plan. There were no complications at that moment or during the days, months even years that followed. 

Age 4 years was the age in which I began to notice significant differences between that of Little man and his pre schooling peers (Differences that his then nursery had noted too)! Yes, I knew he was somewhat different prior to this age, but in all honesty I didn’t have much to compare his behaviours to. It was the arrival of baby number two, “My little girl, Little mans sister and rival” as he all to often treats her, who was born when Little man was 2 and 6 months old that many issue were raised. 

 Sadly we moved, “Good bye nursery that was so willing to help” Instead we started the long four year battle with the primary school his now escaped. It was only after much upheaval, tiresome and challenging battles that Little man finally got the diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome just as he turned nine. This was a diagnosis that we had first been told about at our very first CAMHS appointment back when he was just 7 years old. Oh yes, we were told way back then that, “Our little man was very likely to be on the autism spectrum, with Aspergers being the most fitting diagnosis! Gosh what happened in them two years between them words and that final diagnosis is scattered all over this very blog! 

 As for his educational needs, It wasn’t till this year January that we final got the LEA to agree to statement and after the mother of all fights, he was placed in a special school for children with autism! This was just one month ago! 

Back when Little man first attend CAMHS age 7, when I first heard the words Autism My world changed for ever (for one it lead me to this blog back in 2008) I knew that there was a massive controversy surrounding the possible links between vaccines and that of autism. Though this was mainly targeted at the MMR due to it’s administrating of three vaccines within the same time deterioration. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder or question the MMR at this point in time, “Of course I bloody did!” but I had a healthy daughter who received that same vaccination, besides, it wouldn’t change the fact he was on the spectrum… I decided to bury it somewhere in my head. I didn’t need answers, I needed to concentrate on the now, for all our sakes! 

 But that changed when my third child was born, my now 20 m old son “Harley” When that time came, I had to dig the question back out and ask my self… Do I want my child to contract a virus such as measles and quite possibly die? Hell NO

Do I want my child to develop autism? Again NO 

Then I asked myself, Do I want my son to catch measles and maybe DIE or do I want to take the chance of my child possibly developing autism therefore avoiding the risk of measles allowing him to LIVE?

 I instantly had my answer! God I called the doctors receptionist within minutes! Two weeks later he was vaccinated.

  I don’t regret my decision, there is NO proven link between that of autism and the MMR! But it’s a known fact that measles can be fatal! Yet despite the, “No Link” being proven you anti vaccine campaigners argue it as being wrong or somehow fixed….I think some just want something, someone to blame! Without that link you have no answers and that hurts! But isn’t it time you focused on what’s important here,”The child” You’re not going to change who they are by embanking on your mission… Its time to embrace your child and deal with the diagnosis.

I will be outspoken and now share my opinion by stating that, “Those that leave their child totally unprotected, opting not to vaccinate a child in fear of autism, are playing Russian Roulette with their own children’s life, as well as that of the life of those at risk like new-born babies to young for vaccination. (I am sorry if I’m offending supporters of the blog, fellow followers on twitter & friends on Facebook, but it’s a view I feel so strongly about.)

 How would you feel if your child passed on rubella to a pregnant woman who ended up giving birth to a baby who was severely disabled including the loss of sight due to the mothers contamination of Rubella during her pregnancy? Would you feel guilty? 

 Last month I received the news that a friend who sadly I had lost contact with 3 years back had lost her daughter to Meningitis (another vaccine that is avoided) her daughter was not yet old enough for that first Jab. This was contracted on her 8th day off life! God this saddens me! 

 I hold no guilt! I can hold my head high as I walk the streets with my children by my side. I know that when a life is lost or a baby is born disabled due to the mother contracting Rubella, It didn’t come from me or my children. 

I told myself, “If the MMR or any other Jab causes my youngest to develop autism then so be it” I’d rather that then risk him never having the opportunity to experience life! 

 There are children in disadvantaged countries that are dyeing every single day. They don’t have that choice, the choice to be vaccinated. Why? Because there is no vaccine, there is no choice, its all about luck, an unwanted gamble, one you all so knowing have no choice in taking. Please Ask them if they had the choice what would they chose! I think we all know the answer. 

 Your child was brought into this world by you, its mother!!!!

Do you want to risk the life of that beautiful child you created, being crawly taken away? Or do you want to do what a mother is there to do, protect!  

raise their child, giving them every chance off a full and happy life (with or without autism) 

 Anti Vaccine Campaigners, I do not apologise for my outspokenness nor do I apologise for giving my children the right to life

Amen  

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

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