Tag Archives: senses

Here Comes The Sun – Tips To Help The Sensitive Child Cope

13 Jun

As the days and nights become increasingly warmer your sensitive child on the autism spectrum may require a little help in coping with the sensory issues that summer may bring.

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So here’s a few tips aimed at those parents of the sensitive child! After all everyone deserves to have a great summer don’t they!

1) Does your child show a dislike to most sun protection products? Little man doesn’t enjoy the application of sunscreen and will spend half the day refusing to comply with my request to apply it. The dislike of sunscreen by a child on the spectrum could be due to a number of factors all of which are a result of the child’s senses. Little man hates the feeling of the lotion on the skin (protests that all feel sticky). This is as well as the smell of the lotion and the fact he needs help with the application process. Here’s some suggestions…
A – Try a powder protection like the one from bare essentials its odourless too.
B – Let your child learn to apply the sun lotion themselves using a mirror then try to cover hard to reach areas that will be exposed to the sun with clothing (thin and cool material)
C – Experiment with different brands of sun protection. Many have different smells and textures and most brands offer sample size bottles or sachets.

2) Try to organise outdoor activities around the midday sun. Children with autism who are sensitive to the suns rays will thank you for it.

3) Use a good insect repellent! No one likes getting bitten by insects and its a 1000 times worse for the child who is tactile defensive. Clothing that comes into contact with the skin is already an issue for these children but if clothing rubs causing friction to an insect bite things become intensely over sensitive. Then there’s the issue of infection to bite. Little man doesn’t listen if I tell him not to scratch a bite, he really can’t control the need to do so, having no power to resist. Your best bet is to just be safe and avoid insect bites altogether. As before experiment in till you find the right product for your child. Another good tip is to use fly nets at the windows or an air conditioning unit at night.

4) Cover up with a hat! As you should for all children insist your child on the spectrum wears some form of sun hat. Your child will be more comfortable in the sun and this will reduce the risk of sunstroke and little mans most feared pain… The headache! If your sensitive child refuses to wear a hat then try alternatives such as a sun umbrella and whenever possible, staying indoors during the hottest point of the day (the midday sun).

5) Does your child with Autism have a fear of flying insects? It isn’t a trait as such, but not uncommon for children with autism to have such a fear. Sometimes its due to factors such as the noise these insects make… Noises such a buzzing from bees, flys and wasps. It can also be down to a fear of getting bitten or stung due to it happening perhaps one day in the past. Regardless of the reason, its usually an intense fear, one that children on the autism spectrum will struggle to deal with. Its all too easy to hide away from those things we are scared of! However this only makes things more difficult in the long run as one day them fearful critters will sneak up on us. My tip… That its better to deal with fear head on by facing it! This can be made much harder when the child who is scared of such insects has a type of autism. But it can be done! It normally just takes a little longer. Ideas…
A) Let children learn more about the things they are frighten about. Use the Internet with them to unravel exciting facts.
B) During warm months use Mosquito nets at windows.
C) Be persistent when helping your child face their fears. Keep on trying on a daily basis.
D) If extreme (to the point your child wont leave the house) then speak to child practitioner for information, advice and ideas.

6) Use a thin 100% cotton sheet instead of a duvet at night! If your child is already a poor sleeper the heat could potentially make this issue worse. Try offering your child lighter cooler bedding. In the summer months little man will often use a sheet instead of a duvet. As long as its 100% cotton we don’t have any tactile issues.

7) Whether appropriate clothing! I found that during the colder months I have to fight the little man to wear his coat, yet in the summer he refuses to go out without it. Experiment with different coats that are appropriate for the current climate. If your child insists on wearing a coat in summer then give them thin cotton summer jackets. Be sure to make sure the material is suited to your child’s tactile needs (little man will not wear waterproof material)!

8) Head to the beach! Being by the sea is always much cooler with the sea breeze. Little man always seems so much happier when we are spending time at the coast. We try to visit less crowded beaches to keep his stress levels down.

9) Avoid the shops! If like little man you’re child on the autism spectrum hates shopping at the best of times then avoid shopping trips during them hot summers afternoons. This is a recipe for meltdowns… You’ve been warned.

10) Cool down! I’ve found that by giving little man a battery operated hand fan he manages the summer heat much better. We did try using cool mist but spraying this on the little man’s face didn’t go down to well. See what works best for your child but if you do opt for a battery operated fan then be sure batteries are fully charged and maybe keep a spare set in your handbag just in case.

Well that’s about it for now. Hope these small tips help and if you have any of your own, then please share in the comments section. Thanks.x

Life In The Spectrum Bubble

10 May

Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, that this blogger hasn’t been the most active these past few weeks? I’m not being lazy, experiencing writers block or falling behind! No, I’ve simply been taking time out, working on other things!

As a parent, especially to one on the autism spectrum you sometimes feel as if your whole life is taken up with social skills training, advocating, battles and special interests. You find it difficult to shut off your mind, think about anything else, take real time for you, yourself as a person.

This isn’t a good thing, we all need to just be ourselves, doing some of the things we love from time to time. Its not that I don’t love parenting my son as I do his siblings, and it isn’t because I dislike blogging because, actually… I love it! I just needed a little me time.

Things at home haven’t been too eventful… If anything drama levels have remained reasonably low so I don’t have much in the way of news to report. Little man has been experiencing some sleepless nights (as usual). What’s worse is his been experiencing some awful toothache and this has affected him badly. He is very sensitive to this type of pain and is having difficulty coping with it. His senses are in overdrive, and with refusal to see the dentist I think we are both at our wits end.

I also got a letter from his school today threatening court action. Little man’s attendance is well below but when his refusing to sleep and then attacking me as I try to pull him from his bed of a morning it isn’t the easiest task to undertake. Its not that little man dislikes school because he actually quite likes it. However, changes such as new children in his cab, new teaching staff and friends leaving, makes little man want to shut the world out.

Between looking after little man and the toddler during the day, I’ve also been busy working on my own stuff. Myself and a friend have been doing some selling at bootfairs, vintage fairs and craft markets, selling mainly that of vintage items, jewellery and other lovely bits. I actually love doing this, especially during the warmer months. Not only does it raise some much needed funds but it gets me out doing something, meeting new people.

We have to remember that just because we are parents of children on the autism spectrum, it doesn’t mean we can’t have interests, time spent on other stuff! We should be able to do this without feeling guilty too.

I’m not denying that when your child is on the autism spectrum life becomes a bit more hectic, it does! However, you adjust and adapt, making routines and adjustments as best you can.

Its easy to find yourself stuck in the autism bubble, you’ve just got to pop it, remembering that before your child’s diagnosis you concentrated on other stuff! After all,its not healthy to do nothing but study the best therapies and educational resources all day long.

We are far better parents when we are more relaxed, free from stress and happy overall.

All my children need a sane mummy… And I’m just working hard to avoid myself becoming anything other than that! After all I’ve been there and it isn’t a pretty place!

Tips – Parenting a Child With Olfactory Dysfunction (Hypersensitivity to Smell)

9 Feb

Children on the autism spectrum often have traits of SPD (sensory processing disorder) which could affect any one, if not all of their seven senses.

In my last blog post I gave some tips on parenting a child with Tactile Defensiveness (Hypersensitivity to touch) today I want to write about Olfactory Dysfunction (Hypersensitivity to smells).

Its important to note that not all children with sensory processing problems will be hypersensitive to sensory stimulus. Some children will experience under sensitivity (under responsive to certain sensory stimulus). Where others, like Little man, can experience both.

Yes, in some areas, our Little man is known as a Sensory Seeking” But though this is true we have found that he is more hypersensitive than under sensitive, especially when it comes down to tactile stimulus.

Although little man does have difficulties with all off his senses, olfactory (smell) fortunately, is one of the least challenging (well, compared to that of his tactile senses). Nonetheless, it does still make things difficult for him. Luckily, Little man is given Occupational therapy as part of his statement and as a result he is learning ways to deal with certain types of hypersensitivity. However, he hasn’t always undergone Occupational therapy and as a parent I’ve had to learn what his triggers are and how to avoid heightening them.

Tip: Change Washing Powders!

If you use a highly Fragrance washing powered, this could well be a tigger for your child’s meltdowns. Try using sensitive washing powders that are fragrance free. I found that the fairy washing powder works well for us.

Tip: Reduce The Amount Of Perfume You Wear When You Are With Your Child.

I used to wear a certain perfume that drove the Little man nuts. It actually gave him headaches so I didn’t have a choice but to stop wearing it in his company. The fact it wasn’t cheap and priced at the higher end of the market made no difference to little man. Seriously… It was, and still is my favourite scent ever! yet I can hardly ever wear it!

Tip: Experiment with foods

Your child may say he/she doesn’t like a certain type of food without even tasting it! Little man could so easy be put off something simply due to the way it smelt. Sometimes its better to use different cooking techniques as some ways of cooking certain foods let of less smells than others. We could never cook scrambled eggs with little man in the house. Even his sister or brother eating a bag of wootsits or other cheesy snack within distance of him would set him off.

I’ve found that certain brands of the same food are less fragrant than others. Sometimes its just better to avoid certain foods altogether, other times I cook them when little man is out of the house.

Tip: Natural Cleaning products

Not only is it cheaper to make your own cleaning products but for a parent who’s child is hypersensitive to certain smells, it can be a way of removing a meltdown trigger. Using lemons and vinegar mixed with borax and bicarbonate of soda makes a great solution to tackle household dirt and grime. Fresh lemons will provide a fresh scent throughout the home, that isn’t too over powering for your child.

Tip: A Good Sensory Diet

Use different scents together to create fun sensory play. A good idea is to gather certain objects together, make the child close their eyes and then guess what the item is your holding simply by smelling it. Of course there will be smells they are hypersensitive too but this way you won’t only discover which smells they cannot tolerate, but those they like too. This means you could then try introducing more of these scents into the home. Maybe you discover that they like the scent of strawberry! You could then replace air freshners with this scent. Plus, by playing such games regularly your child could adapt to certain smells, therefore reacting to them much less in the future. Make sensory games fun, offering certain rewards for correct guesses making children more inclined to want to play.

Tip: Good Social Skills Training

This may seem odd but in fact its very relevant. Children on the autism spectrum can be quite abrupt! They have this tendency to say what it is they are thinking out loud. This is regardless of whether its Inappropriate to do so or regardless of hurting someone’s feelings. Basically if they think you smell funny then nine out of ten times they are gonna inform you you of it, no matter who’s listening! It may be simply because a friend is wearing a perfume they don’t like or maybe the teacher has bad breath. Teaching a child when its OK to say things can help reduce social problems.

Little man got into really big trouble at mainstream school when he told the head teacher that his breath smelt like a dogs… so could he please not talk close to his face. The fact the whole school was gathered in the hall really didn’t help the situation whatsoever.

Social skills training is beneficial for the child on the autism spectrum for countless reasons… This is just one of them.

Tips For Parents Of Tactile Defensive Children (Part 1 – Hygiene Problems)

6 Feb

Many children On the autism spectrum have some degree of sensory integration difficulties. As a parent of a child diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome with accompanying sensory integration problems, I know just how difficult some situations can become for both parent and child.

One of the senses in particular that little man has problems with Is that of his tactile sense, hypersensitivity to touch/tactile input. As his aged with appropriate Interventions Little man is slowly learning different types of coping strategies to deal with such difficulties.

As a child and still to some extent, I myself was very tactile defensive growing up. As a child with OCD I also developed compulsions and rituals that involved me having to touch certain textures that I didn’t like, a required number of times in order to stop bad things happening. This itself made my sensory defensiveness very hard for others to spot!

I guess the above means that to certain degree I have that much of a better understanding of little mans difficulties within the area of tactile hypersensitivity. Nonetheless, there was areas of difficulty for little man that I had never experienced and to some extent would have never related both the symptom and associated behaviour together. A good example of this would be little man’s reluctance to bath. It took a while for me to realise that it wasn’t the fact he was lazy with no desire to wash, but it was instead the way his body felt when getting out off the bath (wrinkly tight skin, the feeling of wetness within certain areas of the body etc…).

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So, that’s why today I would like to share some of the tips and strategies I have learnt, that help my little man with some of the difficulties he experiences at the hands of tactile hypersensitivity. All these difficulties affect the area of personal hygiene.

Teeth Brushing: Little man hates brushing his teeth and will try and avoid at any cost. This is because the way his mouth feels during & following this action. He also gets rather upset that his taste buds have changed when he drinks anything shortly after brushing his teeth. Just explaining that such experiences are short lived and resolve themselves quickly, doesn’t make any difference to a child like little man. So what do you do?

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Tip… Buy only soft tooth brushes. I buy brushes designed for toddlers milk teeth. Its not ideal him using them at 12 years old, nonetheless, I’d rather he brushed with this than nothing at all. As well as the soft brush he also uses toothpaste designed for smaller, younger teeth. This toothpastes doesn’t give off the same sensations. They are lower or except from certain ingredients altogether, therefore avoiding any burning or ultra cooling sensation in the mouth. This also leaves little taste behind and that first drink isn’t as daunting as it was before. I know he will need to use better toothpaste as he goes into his teenage years so have therefore started to look at the different options available in terms of products… Is there actually a toothpaste designed for those with tactile defensiveness? Big gap in the market there if there isn’t! Any suggestions, please do leave them in the comment section.

Bathing: Little man will need me to start requesting he baths in the morning in order to ensure he eventually gives in on the refusal front and is in the tub come late evening. Reasons for the refusal is mainly centred around tactile sensations shortly following a swim in the tub. He understands that the feeling of wetness within certain body areas is quickly fixed with a towel but it still concerns him leading to avoidance. One of the reasons this is, is that he also hates the sensation of tight clean skin, wrinkly fingers etc… That are very present (probably more so) once you have towel dried.

Tips: I must first add, that little man actually loves the shower, sadly we don’t have one and can not afford a shower fitment over our bath. So, why is it different and why might a shower be a better option for your tactile defensive child? Well… the water is aimed downwards in a continuous flowing motion, there is little opportunity for water to really sit on skin in large amounts. When showering the body has not been submerged in water. This therefore removes that sensation of tightness to the skin and wrinkly fingers and toes.

Little man again loves swimming and this itself confused me. Later, I actually discovered he liked the smell of Chlorine and thought that it cleansed his skin of dirt, meaning he could avoid a bath later on at home lol. The fact there is a shower at the swimming baths is another big Incentive to swim. He will protest on an evening his been swimming, that he don’t need the bath his been in the chlorine filled pool plus showered too! For me it was more reason to get him in that bath.

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Good products… I never give little man soap to use. This itself makes the skin super tight and squeaky clean, sending him loopy. I myself, don’t use soap for the dislike of tightness plus sensitive skin. We instead use a good sensitive body wash with little fragrance. But saying this Little man also seeks out certain smells and some actually help encourage him to bath. The boy loves lush and colour changing bath bombs can have him running to the bathroom. These are normally quite highly fragranced so I am pleased they are all natural handmade products with many of them correcting some of the tactile sensations he develops.

Recently we discovered a product from Olay that is a body wash with added body lotion helping to lock in moisture therefore removing the dry, tight sensation. It seems weird as body lotion is something we apply following a bath but it does really work.

DIY… When we recently ran out of our Olay product sent from the gods, and I couldn’t find it anywhere in the shops, I decided to get all DIY! I added some Johnson’s Baby Lotion to a bottle of Simple body wash and can you believe it? It really did work! Excluding the odd oily blob of floating mixture in the bath, its actually a really clever and effective solution.

So… Overall use good products to help reduce sensations, apply good body creams and lotions following a bath too.

Use a good quality towel that isn’t hard or stiff. If you have a tumble dryer then use it to keep towels fluffy and warm.

Make bath times fun and sensory inviting with water colour changers, bath paint and our favourite… Crazy Soap.

If you have a shower, give your child the option. Its my experience that a shower is less likely to bring on such extreme feelings of tactile discomfort.

Hand-washing: Little man needs constant prompts to wash his hands. Sometimes seeing is believing so if he can’t see dirt he thinks there must be no germs so no need to wash them. Again he hates the sensation of wet hands or those that feel funny after using certain soaps or hand wash. Other times little man just plain forgets, especially after using the toilet.

Tips….

Prove It: I used an ultraviolet light to reveal the unseen germs on little mans hands…. After all education is important for any child. I also directed him to online youtube videos and resources that explain the differences about dirt and unseen germs (what you can’t see really can hurt you). However, for you a more gentle approach maybe necessary. Children on the autism spectrum can be easily frightened and become over obsessive about subjects, therefore worrying about contamination and then as a result, engage in too much hand-washing! You know your child best!

Visual clues: Just a sign on the toilet wall that states “Now Please Wash Your Hands” that is visible when your child goes to pull the chain, can be enough to jog their memory and have them running to the bath room sink. We had one of them cute posters in a cartoon format that read pretty much the same reminder.

The Right Handwash & Hand-cream: A good handwash instead of soap. Little man then applies a hand cream to replace moisture back into the skin correcting the sensation of tightness. Buy your child a pocket travel size hand cream to take out and about with them, including school.

Child Friendly Hand Sanitisers: Sometimes when out and about your child may refuse to use a public washroom sink for a string of reasons like the horrid liquid in the soap dispensers or a fear of the electronic hand fans (used to scare Little man rotten). On the market there are now really good alcohol free Hands sanitisers (we have reviewed a few here on the blog). These, followed by the application of travel sized hand cream could be the answer.

Nail clipping & Cleaning: By far one of Little man’s worst feared hygiene task. It’s highly embarrassing for your child to have dirty nails and it’s also highly embarrassing for you, the parent that your child has such dirty nails. Little man just finds the sensation of freshly cut nails totally unbearable. He also freaks out when cleaning instruments are used, saying it makes him feel fuzzy. Now, I can share some tips I’ve been given but sadly we are still struggling. Nonetheless, you may have more success. If you have any tips of your own, that you feel myself and the Little man could benefit from then please leave a comment below.

Tips: Crystal nail files can help! I have a Leighton Denny glass file and its gentle and kinder to nails. Still its a struggle for use as he still refuses, freaks out and dislikes the cleaning process that you need to undertake first.

Allow your child to clip and clean nails themselves. Your child then has better control over how short to cut them and the sensations felt with differing lengths. Again we still struggle (Only ever provide such an option to older children.)

Incentives aka good old bribery. Not really a tip as such and quite bad advise but something I admit resorting to. Funny enough he still often doesn’t give in, even if I’m offering something exciting.

Try nail brushes for cleaning. We have a very nice soft nail brush with extra fine bristles that Little man is leaning to tolerate.

Remember, don’t cut too short. If the feeling of freshly cut nails is really overpowering, you will get nowhere near them with the clippers next time. Plus if you catch the skin you may as well forget ever trying again… Not gonna happen!

Try nail scissors instead of clippers. These don’t cut so bluntly decreasing the sensation that’s felt following the task.

Warning: Don’t ever, ever, even try and cut your child’s nails while they are sleeping! One minute he was snoring, I was clipping away thinking “Gotcha Now” When the next thing I knew the clippers were on the floor and I was following them with a freshly punched nose. Not his fault, he acted on impulse having been woken due to a sensation he finds horrific! Yes, just because they are in the land of nod doesn’t mean the brain doesn’t produce messages of uncomfortable tactile sensations!

Our Dream Of A Sensory Room

19 Oct

When I saw the home makeover competition being run by Tots100 & ratedpeople.com I knew I had to enter it!

Painters and decorators Ratedpeople.com

You see, the prize money of £2,500 to makeover a room in your house would enable us to do things that are currently far beyond our reach. My home is far from perfect, in fact its not in particularly good shape at all. I won’t even show you pictures of our half missing ceiling in the living room (yes its fell down twice almost killing us) and I’m still waiting for the second repair. However its not repairs for my living room that I have on my mind, nor is it the thought of a beautifully decorated home… No no! It’s actually the children’s rooms, especially that of the little mans.

It pains me to show you any pictures of my sons room. It’s horrid and its current state is not helping his sensory needs or that of his sleeping problems. But as I’m seriously struggling to pay for this room to be fixed up (on top of others) I feel I actually cannot afford to miss this opportunity and therefore must. Firstly let me explain some of our issues. We discovered his ceiling was actually made from Polystyrene which is a serious fire hazard so needed ripping down. Of course it was hiding something! His walls are also crumbling and the housing fixed the floor board by covering it up with rubbish hard board which has staples all over it.

Ok… I’m doing it I’m actually uploading the horror for the world to see…

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Little man has Aspergers Syndrome with sensory processing difficulties within all areas of his senses. His also a very poor sleeper. For us this would be so much more than a nicely decorated 12 year old boys bedroom! It would be our sons sanctuary, a bedroom come sensory room! This is something that would make a significant difference In his life and that of ours, his family. I honestly believe it would improve his extremely poor sleeping pattern and therefore mend mine a little.

I have so many ideas when it comes to the creation of Little mans sensory room. It would be an environment that provides him with a very laid back, chilled out space. It would be filled with things to help relax him, therefore enhancing his moods, providing sensory stimulation and importantly a great nights sleep. We know sensory rooms are a key part of little mans school routine and we know such a space could change a lot of behaviours and difficulties. I’ve tried my best to make it as inviting as possible but in all honesty at the moment its a poorly used space that as you can see, isn’t fit for use… A few sensory lights are all he currently has to jazz. It up

Below are some of my ideas…

Colour: its very important for us to ensure little mans room is very visually inviting. Bright colours are something that form a big part of this vision.

Foam mats: Little man is really into WWE Wrestling at present and its a very intense (special) interest. This means that he is forever acting out the moves displayed by his favourite wrestler. He currently has no carpet and the noise is unbelievably loud. He throws himself around the room like crazy regardless of the hour (neighbours have actually felt the need to knock at 4 am). The mats would be perfect for his sensory room. He would be safer (less bumps and bruises) and our house may just stop vibrating giving us a pleasant relationship with the neighbours!

Teen style: Its important that regardless of little mans needs and that of his room having a sensory element to it, his room still has that stylish WOW factor about it. He is 12 years old and well on his way to becoming a teenage boy. He wants a room that don’t only provide sensory comfort but looks the part too! This is why I’ve chosen the super cool sliding door wardrobe, he would absolutely love this.

Mood Lighting: A massive part of any sensory room is its lighting.The lighting in the collage background above is LED night lighting which I know he would love. His a big fan of the lava lamp and the one above would fit perfectly. As you can see from both the above image and that of the one below, a variety of mood lighting is the key to the creation of a great sensory room.

Cool down area: With the addition off some cushions, bean bags and a little dim lighting you find you have created the perfect chill out space. What’s great about a sensory room is how you have the one room yet a number of different spaces within it. A sensory room is designed to be calming and inviting. But it can provide a space designed to stimulate the body and mind. The chill-out space in itself would be the ideal place to help little man shake of any stress or simply recover following a meltdown.

Hammock: The hammock would help little man with the difficulties he experiences due to his out of sync vestibular sense. This means that he often experiences poor body awareness (where his body is within space) A great way to describe this feeling would be to imagine what it feels when you go on a fairground ride that throws your body about in all directions, lifting your feet of the ground at speed or dropping you from a great hight. A hammock or swing would actually work as a therapeutic aid as well as a relaxing space.

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The sensory curtain in the above picture is fantastic. Little man recently saw one like this at an expedition and instantly took to it! It’s a very tactile curtain and would be an ideal feature for his very own sensory room.

As for the bed, again i’ve taken into account his need for a stylish space as well as a sensory one. This bed is fantastic! It continues on the bight colour theme what with its striking green wood and very modern design. It’s also a great bed in terms of storage (something his room is currently lacking). I’ve also chose the funky tall unit with brightly coloured storage boxes to store all them wrestling figures and truck loads of Lego.

One of my favourite aspects of a sensory room is how tactile they can be. Little man is very tactile defensive and needs a lot of tactile input to help him adapt and improve his tactile sense. Given he loves Lego the idea of a Lego wall is a great one. It’s very tactile and will further enhance his imagination.

I’ve really enjoyed pulling my ideas together for this challenge. I’ve had them floating around in my head for the last few years and although certain elements have slightly changed (like chosen items and colours) the overall desire to create such a wonderful space remains very much the same.

As a self diagnosed pin head, pinterest is yet another place you can find more of my sensory and autism related boards! I’ve also created one especially for this competition. You can find it by clicking Here

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So… There you have it… Our current dream of a sensory room and some very shabby existing interior.

Please note: If like myself you are wanting to create a sensory room, I recently discovered a post on a blog called PlayPennies on creating sensory rooms on a budget. Really worth a look.

Disclaimer: This post is my entry into the Tots100 and RatedPeople.com Home Decor Competition.

The Sensory Processing Of A Child With Aspergers Syndrome

23 Feb

It’s a saturday afternoon, myself and the children are sat in our local  cafe where I’m treating them to lunch and their favourite milkshake. Sat across from us, there are workmen sipping their tea as they delve into a spot of all day breakie. It’s a little noisy but that’s just what you expect from a cafe, isn’t it!

Suddenly I hear the sound of scrapping metal, it seems drawn out, lasting forever. I look round to spot one of the builders doing a grand old job of ensuring he gets his full five quid’s worth, as he fights to scrape the remaining 4 or so baked beans onto his fork, before finally shoving them in his mouth and down his throat. I turn my head in the direction of Little Man (aka a boy with Aspergers) who now has his hands firmly placed over his face, shaking his head, he mumbling words I cannot understand, yet I know what his saying, his saying, “Mum, let’s get the hell out off here!”

Sensory Overload is powerful, so much so, it can make a person actually vomit. So, if my Little Man is so sensitive to such sounds, why take him to a place they are bound to be found? Little man loves the cafe and I want him to experience such small pleasures such as eating in one! Some days can be worse than others, his done well at trying to take in these sounds that cause him so much distress, finding other methods of dealing with it! Yet, this is all dependent on his current state of mind and how he feels physically at the time (I guess it’s like anyone and anything, example being how things are much harder without sleep)!

Such simple things interfere with Little mans senses and I feel as his mother, it’s my duty to help him find ways to regulate them best he can! He has to live with many sensory triggers, some that will never be fully avoidable, I want to be sure that he can cope both physically and mentally. Given Little man faces many of these sensory triggers on a daily basis, myself and his OT based within his school, are trying our hardest to help him to process these things better as to not let it take over completely making him stressed upset or simply meltdown! The sound of scrapping metal is just one in a long list of sensory processing difficulties the Little man experiences with each day, and was actually one of the first indications that Little man had such difficulties within this area! This was when he was not much older than 2-years-old.

Certain tactile experiences are yet another sensory trigger for Little man, he will refuse to wear certain clothing garments dependent on their material, he refuses to drink from plastic beakers or eat from plastic plates, stating it leaves him feeling fuzzy. It’s taken a long time to work out what does and what doesn’t upset him, I can safely say, that in many respects, especially in regard to the clothing issues, I have it nailed now! Then again given he refuses to wear anything other than joggers, it isn’t hard to establish what it is I should be offering him to wear everyday. We are so lucky that his special school for children on the autism spectrum actually allows joggers as part of it’s uniform! Mainstream school and its uniform policy caused little man great distress, he was even excluded from school on a number of occasions for sensory outburst when demands were made to tuck his shirt in! For the average person, that’s like requesting they stick their head in a hot oven!

The good news was “Bob the builder” (aka workman opposite) had managed to capture all of his baked beans so had finally stopped chasing them around the plate! Bad news was, Bobs crew also liked to engage in some good old grub chasing and soon enough Little man let rip!

Raising to his feet he turned in the direction of the workmen and with great volume stated, “Id much rather you licked your plate please” Now, a little shocked I’m sure they were, after all, it’s not every lunch break you get told to lick your plate by a small child (well, this was a good 3 years back, before his massive spurt in growth)! However, what they did next I didn’t expect! One goes for it… literally licking his plate while laughing and stating in between licks, “like that son, is it?” Little man had meant it all right, they may have thought my Little man was some little sarcastic wise arse, but I knew he meant it and was rather pleased at the fact this builder had taken his meaningful advice and got stuck in, licking like a dog.

Regardless of the fact I did laugh inside, (quite some amount in fact) I didn’t want little man thinking his chosen technique had won him silence, he would only be ordering the licking of plates every single time we ran into these problems, and let’s be honest, you always get one person who fails to see any funny side of anything whatsoever! This could therefore result in Little man getting hurt, maybe even being beating up as he grows older, and what mother ever wants to think about such a horrible thing happening to her child!

I’ve defiantly decided to start the Little man on a sensory diet, which before you ask, doesn’t have anything to do with food! Basically , this is a programme you can do at home which is made up from a series of activities and exercises, designed to help with sensory integration.

Here are some great ideas to introduce a child with Autism, Aspergers or just SPD to a series of Sensory based activities things they may normally find difficult to process.

Tactile board

Introducing a range of textures as part of a tactile board, some children with autism like Little man, are incredibly sensitive to touch, others pose no issues at all. Hanging a tactile board in a bedroom, children can be encouraged to touch the board regularly, offering rewards for achievements.

Sensory messy box

This is great for both the sensory seeker and the child who is said to be tactile defensive. In terms of the sensory seeking behaviour displayed by some, the Sensory Messy Box offers children a safe activity (reduces sensory seeking behaviours, such as rocking spinning, clapping and more). For the child who is defensive, lots of encouragement and continued reassurance is the overall key. I’m planing to use incentives like mini Lego figures, to get the Little man wanting to put his hands in good fun messy coloured shaving foam, to hopefully dish about and retrieve them.

Dressing up box

It’s always best to fill a dressing up trunk with both the materials your child does and doesn’t tolerate, as having them with him, (especially if he likes the look of the costumes) may just help him feel more motivated to make contact with the different textures on offer!

The creation of a sensory pad (aka Little man’s bedroom)!

 Something I’ve felt the desire to create for, so… long! First I was put of the idea, having viewed some top sensory products, that included, lights, beds, toys and more at an autism exhibition. These items were innovative, top of the range, extremely clever, providing clam and tranquility, but sadly I found them to be priced outrageously high. As time passed, with much googling, window shopping etc, it became clear that this can be done on a smaller budget! High street stores do many sensory items, there just not labelled that way! Imagination and creative thinking are also the inexpensive tool needed for creating such a space. I’ve been using Pinterest and have been designing the board “the sensory room” as to collect inspiration and share it with others also wanting to create a place to help their child destress. I will update some more later in regard to my progress in building a Sensory pad, though do feel free to follow me on Pinterest where you will find this board, amongst other boards boasting lots of ideas for parents of children with special needs.

Well, I will stop there for now, this post is becoming beyond long, plus the Mac is ignoring most of my commands and doing whatever it wants to right now!
I’ll be sure to share some more fun sensory ideas over the coming few weeks, in the meantime, if anyone has any tip or creative ideas to share, please let me know in a comment as I’d love to hear them.

Why some children with autism may hate the 5th November

26 Oct

It’s almost here, the one night of the year that has my son crawling around on the floor like a solider in combat. 

The 5th of November is bonfire night and as much as Little man likes watching the fireworks at a distance from the safety and comfort of the living room window, it’s a whole different ball game when outside.


In a way I’m extremely thankful that we know it’s on the way so we can therefore avoid being outside on that evening. However I’ve noticed that the fireworks are already lighting up our skies. 

That’s when It’s most difficult, when he doesn’t expect it. He will flip out and quite literally drop down to the ground. It’s not only the loud whistling, sizzling & loud bangs that frighten him, his also frighten that they are falling from the sky on top of him.

Again I think that much of this comes as a result of his sensory processing, the way in which his senses work. His also got a fear of tall buildings fearing that they will fall and flatten him. I remember speaking to the occupational therapist about this issue who confirmed that it was is in-fact something to do with his sensory processing! It actually has a name which is “Proprioceptive Dysfunction” 

Let me explain a little… We all have a range of senses and one of these sense is our proprioceptive sense which works by feeding the brain information that tells us about movement, and where our body position is in space.

When we received Little man’s OT report it was clear that he had difficulties within all his senses which in some ways made me feel quite sad. 

Well, if your child has difficulties in the sense his Proprioceptive sense isn’t processing as it should be then they will likely experience the difficulties that Little man does. He states that looking at tall building makes his head spin and everything moves around him making him feel that his feet are no longer on the ground. This kinda leads me to believe that when Little man looks up at the fireworks directly above him in the sky, as they explode and drop lower he becomes confused and is unable to sense how near or far the firework actually is.

The above combined with the loudness of a fire display is enough to send him crazy. 

Note: Little man loves sparklers and will happily hold one, this is also confirmation that yes, his fear in fireworks are a sensory problem.

I remember at the beginning of the year, I was out with the children shopping then we met up with a friend to grab something to eat. It was a freezing evening in January so nowhere near November. Can you imagine his horror as we stepped out the restaurant and onto the street where the sky suddenly turned into a mass of beautiful golds and pink as a spectacular fireworks display took affect above. We were already on route to my friends card who was parked a good five minutes up the world. The shops in the high-street were now closed and the restaurant was now way back in the distance! With no place to run he did what he does best in such a situation, he drops. My son is no “tiny little man” believe me his grown. He was ten at the time, far to big to pick up, throw over my shoulder and make a running bid for the car. Like I guessed Little man refused point-blank to get up from the ground and proceeded to crawl instead. 

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of those passing by, some people really are rude sometimes when they point and stare, (is it entertaining seeing a child in distress)? 

My friend ran for the car which we finally got him in, but my goodness it was extremely stressful for him and a memory that will stick with me forever more.

Yesterday fireworks began going off right outside the living room widow. Little man ran towards the window where he stayed and enjoyed the show in till they had disappeared. He then turned and said to me, “Lucky we weren’t outside mum” 

We have been to a few well organised public displays but always get the same result. 

This year I think we will stay indoors, grab some toffee apples and lemonade and put some comfy cushions up at the living room window. 

Lets just hope we are not caught unaware in the run up to the big night. 

The NAS have created a list of tips for bonfire night aimed at families with children with autism

 This can be found by clicking HERE  

If anyone has any tips of their own, do please let us know in a comment. 

“Please Save me from the falling buildings”

13 May

It’s the 29 Th. April 2011 and the day of the Royal Wedding. Its getting late and has started to rain, within what seems like a second I’m wet through.

Stood on Waterloo bridge in bight red heels, “Heels I so, regret wearing!” I’m tired, becoming cranky and just wanna go home!

One problem! Little man wont cross the bridge.

Myself, a friend and my daughter had just started strolling across the bridge when little man shouted, “No, no, no! I’m not walking across that!” He stood very still with an expression of fear spread across his face. He shook his head repeatedly and started to mumble something which normally indicates his nervous.

Did I know he had a fear of this kind? Nope I truly didn’t! I can’t remember us ever having to walk over a bridge before (his fine with driving over them it’s just walking that presents a problem).

It hadn’t rained all day despite the predictions, the Royals married on a gorgeous sunny day. Well, that was in-till now! I was quickly losing the will to live as I tried desperately to persuade Little man to cross the bridge! The prospect of having to get the train one stop to avoid it was one I didn’t fancy having to contemplate. Then there was the fact I wanted to get a picture of the stunning views of the River Thames that I must say looked stunning on this particular night (despite the rain). The London Eye looked incredible, all lit up in blue and red, the colours of the union Jack in honor of the newly weds.

My friend took over and somehow after what seemed like ‘forever’ little man walked across the bridge.

The rain had stopped and despite how heavy it fell, it lasted no more than a mere 30 minutes (nonetheless it was enough time to soak an entire family)

The mission back to Waterloo east station would require us to walk past the London Eye. As we got nearer I suddenly realised another problem was about to unearth itsself! Little Man was now refusing to walk past the wheel. His anxiety levels rose and he become quite panicky.

“Please mum… I don’t want to walk past it, it’s to big, I’m scared!”

“What are you scared of darling?”

“What do you mean what am I scared off, I’m scared of that thing, that’s what I’m scared of!”

Well, didn’t that tell me!

This time there was no reasoning with the little guy and it was apparent by the frustration on my daughters face that she had now had enough and looked forward to a hot chocolate and her lovely warm bed. I looked at little man who now had his hands spread across his face in a desperate attempt to conceal his eyes from his surroundings, while shouting, “COME ON MUM, COME ON! ITS GOING TO FALL ON US IF WE DON’T GO RIGHT NOW, FOR *#*# *#*#”

Yes, bad language was flowing freely from the mouth of my little guy, he normally does when anxiety kicks in!

I knew from that moment we wouldn’t be walking past the beautifully lit London Eye and that this time not even my friend would be able to use her magic ways of persuasion, just as she had done on the bridge.

Now, did I know he feared the London Eye? No! However I had learnt through recent events that little man feared very tall buildings.

It was about three weeks pervious, when I decided to take the little dude on a visit to Canary Wharf during one of our ‘special transport days’ For those who are wondering what this crazy lady is chatting about, a ‘ special transport day’ involves little man super indulging in his special interest of transport by riding on the trains, tube, bus, dock-lands light rail, and not forgetting the clipper that jets across the River Thames into Greenwich or Westminster. Though this mum would like to see her little man splashing about at the swimming baths or playing with the other children in the park she wouldn’t have it any other way as seeing the enjoyment in his eyes makes it more than worth it (even if it does mean she has to be a transport enthusiast)

However once at Canary Wharf I could no longer see that same ‘enjoyment’ in my little mans eyes, Instead I saw fear. Stood amongst the skyscrapers Little man dropped to the pavement to the safety of the ground. I had never seen him react to anything in such a manner. I had clearly brought him to an environment that he could not tolerate.

Canary Wharf Isn’t to far from the London City airport and as a result the skies above see quite a bit of air traffic. As you can imagine this creates quite a noise as the sound of the aircraft bounces of the skyscrapers. This sent the little guy into an even bigger frenzy of panic.

As per-usual there were those that stopped for a look, this time it was different though, purely because my son wasn’t having a meltdown, this was in-fact a lot different, he was reacting like the terrified child he was instead of a child who come across as ‘challenging’ Nonetheless this was challenging for me, I still had to get him off the floor and back onto the tube.

Of course I succeeded but this wasn’t without lots of reassuring and encouragement. Back on the tube little guy questioned himself, he said he never thought he would be scared of buildings and couldn’t understand what went wrong! He said he was now feeling a little stupid. I explained that he shouldn’t feel stupid as it was a common occurrence, more than some may think. I wasn’t just trying to make the little guy feel better (even though this was of course my first priority), I was actually stating what I believed to be true, after all I was the same as a child. Once I explained to him that Mum had once felt that way, he really engaged and we discussed it all the way home.

It turns out that like me as a child, little man had felt dizzy and sick, his head went funny and his body wobbled! He even described a butterfly feeling inside his tum which he informs me was a very strange feeling. I think what he meant or at least tried to describe was the  feeling and  an experience of vertigo caused by his vestibular processing.

From the age of two I used to throw myself out of my buggy and lay on the floor every-time my mother or father pushed me past a bill-board poster. It took sometime for them to work out what was going on but they finally did, especially when my father took me on a crane where he worked and was presented with a little girl screaming her head off while shaking so forcefully that the crane wobbled (Well, at least that’s what my dad claimed *giggle*).

It’s funny as now I’m older I realise that I myself had quite a lot of sensory processing problems. I like my little man was and still am to some degree… tactile defensive!

You see, it’s not just the issue of fear here! This was a sensory issue for my little man. Well, it was defiantly a contribution of the two. Little man is also worried of a terrorist attack, something I should have considered before taking him there! Skyscrapers, aeroplanes and the feeling of being out of control on top of the vertigo was a tad too much for Little man while at Canary Wharf and seemed to be that same way now.

After a long day and night I decided that we would not walk past the London Eye, after all he had already faced his fear on the bridge (proud mummy)

I wrote this blog as I wanted to show how such issues can pop up out of nowhere, how it’s important to be aware of the possible triggers of anxiety, the achievements our children can make (the bridge), and also how I see a little bit of me in my little guy! No I’m not an Aspie but I’m his mum and his bound to be a little like me after all 🙂

It’s funny as a child I considered myself a bit of a nut job! what with the need to bite my sleeves even though it drove me mad, the fact i couldn’t deal with polo neck jumpers and school shirts, the way I hated G-strings in my early twenties lol (comfort babe is me) Oh, there are many more and I assume such issues of sensory processing disorder (SPD) were non-existent when I was a kid (now i feel old) Maybe if they were I may well hold the label, but then again I guess many of us would.

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