Tag Archives: sensory overload

Christmas Meltdowns, Supermarket Style

20 Dec

Anybody with a child on the autism spectrum will know that meltdowns are that bit different from your more ‘typical’ tantrum and that during this festive time of year they tend to be on the increase.

This is true for Little man, what with all those emotions mixed together, excitement, anxiety and more, there is just bound to be an increase in this behaviour, however knowing about it can make it that bit easier… OK, not that much but hey any improvement is better than no improvement isn’t it?

It’s extremely hard to avoid those things that make our children over stimulated especially when it’s the whole business of Christmas itself that tends to bring about such behaviour! Supermarkets are always that bit more crowded, then there’s all the festivities happening around us.

My Little man has never coped well with the whole shopping situation and I discovered last year just how much worse this becomes at Christmas! Seriously, there is no quite time to shop in December, nonetheless this is a good time however to try to raise some awareness for the condition and how sensory overload can play a huge part in our children’s behaviour! Just think about it, how do you feel when you’re darting around the supermarket last-minute trying to get all the bits for your Christmas dinner, everything is sold out, the place is bursting at the seams with other shoppers who are walking about at the pace of a snail and in the background you can hear people rattling charity tins as the local choir stood at the stores entrance belts out the sounds of “Ding Dong Merrily On High” yet there you are feeling a little less than festive when you’re in a rush and somehow no matter how fast you go… Nothing seems to get done!

Come on, we’ve all been there haven’t we? Well, I know I have and I’ll be honest when saying… It leaves me feeling bloody stressed out to the max.

Yes, we shouldn’t leave things till the last-minute but not every family is in a position to shop at the beginning of the month, myself included!

I don’t know 100% but I’m guessing this is how my son feels on trips to the local supermarket, just how I feel when christmas shopping at the last minute, so can you imagine how much worse it becomes for the child with Asperger’s during such a festive period?

I say I’ve learnt my lesson every year, have I really? No of course not, I still return to the supermarket the next year, kids in tow, battling the crowds as I try to do my Christmas food shop and it’s always the same… the end result is… Cans of baked beans rolling down aisle 10 and Little man shouting some pretty offensive language (at me of course) while kicking anything or worse, anyone in his reach! Not a pretty thought is it!

If you’re in a position to leave that little darling at home, I’d say… GO FOR IT! If you’re not then if you can, then do it as early as possible to get it out the way!

There is always the option of paying for your Christmas at the beginning of the year, and this isn’t just for the reason of spreading the cost but also avoiding the big Christmas rush and therefore huge Christmas meltdown.

Still, I don’t know why I’m telling you this? Do I take my own advice?

Never… though I really should! Still like many, I always find that Christmas is the last thing I want to be thinking about come January and then before I know it we’re in November and this mum is panicking BIG STYLE!

Maybe next year I’ll order myself a big fat hamper filled to the rim with Christmas goodies! Who knows, I can only but hope I hear myself saying that in January!

I hold my hands up, I do still have stuff to buy and I do see one or two meltdowns on the horizon.

Here’s a couple of things I will be doing to help avoid a blow up or a least a monster scale meltdown!

The biggest advice I can give myself or anyone else who are yet to shop, would be not to get too stressed! (Easier said than done, I know). However, when I’m stressed Little man easily picks up on my mood and therefore becomes more stressed himself! This is an important lesson I’ve learnt to date, regardless of the time of year or situation.

Another example why stressing is a super bad idea is the fact that it causes me to parent poorly, I can’t do the job that I’m meant to do, I become a wreck and becoming a wreck results in a worse meltdown from Little man. It’s all about remaining calm, dealing with the children best I can and getting the hell out off there!

Another piece of advice of valuable advice I can offer, is… Ignore the judgemental finger pointers, the glaring eyes of your fellow shoppers, who gives a rats arse what they think? Seriously it’s so not worth it!

Yes, I’ve stood in the supermarket trying to educate my fellow shoppers on autism, aspergers or sensory processing and at any other time I’d say, ‘Yay… go for it’ but at this busy & already stressful time of year, my advice is worry about no one but you and the children, get your shopping and get on out of there.

You could always do what I’m planing and wear a t-shirt with the words,

“Merry Christmas my child has Aspergers”

Tactile defensiveness

16 Sep

This past week has been so horrid for the whole of the family. We really thought we had got past the school uniform battle. Things are never as they seem, far from it in fact. We have a very angry boy coming home from school on a daily basis. Last week was bad enough with supermarket meltdowns and sleepless nights! Just when things all go quite something else happens.

Little man has always had sensory sensitivity some days worse then others. When in his favourite tracksuit bottoms we don’t have to worry about it as much… That was up in till the school introduced the new school uniform policy. We spent the best part of reception class and year one constantly battling to get Little man into school. He would scream, quite literally hang on to the banister as I dragged him out of the house I knew there was something a little different about Little man. What was different became clearer as he grew older. He had no diagnosis but he sure did do some “Odd” things. Why on earth has he hide his clothing I would think , as I pulled a bundle of jeans out from under his bed. Then there was the “I’m not wearing that coat! No, no, no!” I didn’t have a clue and we must off brought him five or more coats in till I started to “get it!” He used to always try and lose his coats in school, and still does. I remember at the end of the school year when they lay out or the last property. What isn’t claimed ends up outside the charity shop. I must have looked like I was going in for the kill and getting what I could for free. I’m not kidding when I say we came out with six coats, four jumpers, two packed lunch boxes, and a ton of jumpers. I was so …. embarrassed

Discovering that Little man could be on the autistic spectrum (Our second CAMHS visit with Tony, back when little man was seven) was a real turning point. It was hard and oh my it was a lot to take in, but going home and reading about ASD and Aspergers I finally knew why he did such things. Sensory sensitivity is something we all have just those on the spectrum have this problem to a greater degree. I know that a certain background nosie like the washing machine spinning while I’m reading or watching TV drives me bonkers, but I can deal with it. My little man like many others can be driven bonkers. Certain sounds, smells and textures can get to Little man and really upset him to the point of meltdown.

It’s his tactile defensiveness that is now causing him more problems at school. Yes, his wearing the correct uniform he is just having trouble with the tucking in your shirt rule. Sadly it seems others are having problems “getting it” It got to the point where little man become so upset yesterday, I kept him home the afternoon when he came home for lunch. I’ve written a letter to school and hope that maybe from now on the situation can be dealt with in a sensitive way.

Maybe it’s hard for some people to take a child’s problem with sensory sensitivity seriously. To many not being able to tuck your shirt in because it makes you feel fuzzy is silly. You often get comments like “What do you mean he can’t” Or “Just give it a go” Would we say to someone.. “Go on stick your head in the oven and see how it feels?” Many may think it’s not the same, but it is! Somebody said to me its like making a child in a wheel chair climb stairs! It was kinda cute, as when repeating this to little mans father, Little man over heard and told me that would just be an outrage, as he would fall and smash his face. Of course I explained it was just an expression. My point is I just find it very frustrating so I can only imagine what it does to Little man.

Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe we should consider an occupational therapist, I hear they are good at helping with sensory issues. A while back I contacted Brainwave and they did agree to help. Brainwave is a two day programme, that involves you and the child meeting a number of professionals and they devise a programme for the child. The parent learns the programme and carries it on at home. The child has a review every few months. It’s a programme that cost a few thousand but the best part comes from charitable funds, the parent is only asked to pay £500 toward this. It’s a brilliant opportunity  and once I have the Money I think it will be something we will seriously consider.

Well, I took Little man in to school today with his shirt un-tucked but I had come up with a plan. He had left his over sized school jumper in school. My plan was for him to wear this and hide his shirt underneath. Good job it was cold today as Little man would be more willing to wear it (I hoped) The lovely receptionist in the school (Always polite and none judgemental) took little man off to find this over sized jumper as he left it on his peg. I was worried she may have a problem with him refusing to put it on. When I got him for lunch I was so please to see him wearing it. His TA did report there had been a few issues (Non uniform related) But it was a joy not to have him moaning all the way up the road about being made to tuck his shirt in. He even went back to school after lunch with zero fuss.

Sadly at 6pm this evening I was called by the head teacher who informs me little man is excluded tomorrow and Monday. I was so upset as I had already told him on collection from school that he would be treated to something of his choice (Of course it was a bus ride with dad) Reason for the treat was because I finally received some fantastic news (For a change) The progress Little man had made in his support group for reading, writing and spelling was fantastic. The letter stated that what he had achieved in six month was what most achieve in ten month. This meant his progress was much better then expected of him. Sadly I had no time to enjoy my Little mans good news and smile at the fact we were receiving good news instead of bad, and for once no after school drama. Two and a half hours later the bubble got popped by the telephone call informing me off his two day exclusion. I cried in putting down the phone. I was told it was for a whole range of issues, mainly name calling. It just never ends EVER! Ironic as tomorrow I planed to go swimming with him and the school and then head out to get food shopping as our cupboards are bare. Most mother do all their bits and pieces when the children are in school. Hell no not me! I should be so lucky. I’m down the school three times a day and do trips were I can I just can’t do it. So…. Now his shopping along side me…


The Sen (Special educational needs) panel wont meet till the 30th of September due to the fact the Senco put in the assess one form to late. It’s a bit of a pain as it would of been heard today. All the time his in this school nothing will get better. I just hope that this time the LEA do the right thing.

Chessington the aspie way

31 Aug

The school summer holidays are almost over! to end things on a high we took the children to Chessington world of adventures curtesy of Merlins (Who we are most greatful to)
The day brought a mixed package of emotions but on the whole it was a great day. Little man did receive a ride access pass to avoid queueing, equally meaning this should aid the avoidance of meltdowns. However through this helped in a huge way, we did not avoid meltdowns completely in fact we did encounter a few.

First Meltdown: Before leaving.
Second Meltdown: Within 30 minutes of arriving at the park.
Third Meltdown: During the Journey home.

Although the above meltdowns are never easy and will be tough on all concerned they were bearable and easier to tackle compeared to some encountered in the past. These are what I refer to as Grade 2 meltdowns. it’s the grade ones that I really can’t bear!

Well from our own experiences, I would like to share some top tips. Looking back at the time leading up to our trip, the journey, and overall day, I think these tips could be extremely beneficial to any family like ours planning a day at Chessington world of adventures.


a) Adjust schedules and timetables as needed.

b) Prepare your child for the trip well in advance. We began this process weeks before. This enables the child time to adjust to the idea and prepare themselves mentally. (sadly they may also go on and on and on)

c) Avoid postponement where possible.
we had to postpone hence reason for meltdown number 1:( This is a disappointment for any child! For those on the spectrum it’s a disaster. You as the parent will pay the price.

d) Be sure to have the right documents for a ride access pass. New regulations state Photo ID is needed and proof of disability that relates to a condition that makes it hard for the child to cope with the concept of having to wait/queue.
We used a osyter 5-10 card and little mans writen diagnosis. More information can be found on the website.

e) Look online for any offers that can be used in the park. Some sites offer vouchers that enable you to receive 20% or more off food and gifts brought in certain food halls and gift shops within the park.
Note! Food can be expensive and you may want to bring your own.

f) prepare child for queues. Yes you can obtain a ride access pass but you will still need to queue for use of toilets, food outlets, gift shops e.g. My little man often pushed his way to the front while holding his arm in the air displaying his bright yellow wristband. He was shouting: “Clear the way, I have a wristband and don’t have to queue” Yes not ideal and a tad embarrassing.

g) Download a map of the park. if u have an iPhone or blackberry download as a PDF file. Maps can be picked up on the day but by doing it this way your child can familiarise themself with the park and it’s contents (Worked for us)

h) Check travel updates. Driving? check traffic update before leaving. If like us you use public transport be sure to check departure times of trains and buses. Long waits at busy stations are never easy.


a) Don’t even think about exploring the stations M&S or WH. Smiths. This didn’t go down well with little man.

b) If your child is like mine a transport enthusiast then be prepared. Once on the train little man beeped all the way there, pressed the button opening the train doors at each and every station, repeated all the names of the stations we stopped at, and took notes on the route for use later (AT HOME, AT 3AM)


a) We had curtesy tickets meaning no long queue at the ticket sales at the gate. I suggest you order your tickets online. Pre-purchased tickets can be sent to you in advance meaning you two can avoid the massive ticket sales queue. If this isn’t possible be sure to arrive early.

b) Once inside head for Market square where you will find the admissions & information office. This is where you obtain your childs ride access pass (wristband) You are required to show your documentation before the child is fitted with the wristband. I found the staff most helpful and very understanding. (Ride access enable your child and between 2 to 4 carers to enter a ride via the rides exit area. This means the child avoids queueing. This is only for adults and children who don’t fully understand the concept of queueing or just can’t cope having to do so.)

c) While at the admission centre do get your child/children measured. Some of the big rides require you to be aleast 1.4 meters tall. We didn’t think to do this when we arrived. Little man spotted a ride that required him to be 1.4 meters. He just reached the top of the measuring stick but only because his fluffy hair encounted for aleast 3 inches. Me and the member of staff who was measuring him could not help but laugh when I pointed out just how lucky it was his father had not given him a hair cut. After much debate on Little mans part that consisted with a few worries “Does this ride ever break or get stuck?” followed by “what’s the odds out of a 100 of the ride becoming stuck while I’m on it?” We were allowed down to the exit to await instructions to board. Just as we went to jump on another member of staff asked to remeasure the little dude! With that we were pointed in the direction of the Admissions centre for a prober measure up. We were then told to come back with a blue wristband to show he met the requirements of the ride. He had the largest meltdown of the day. He was shouting “I have a F***ing yellow wristband!!! I don’t want a blue one”
He then sat with his head in his hands on the dirty floor. I stood asking if everyone was enjoying the show and his father who came with with us was running for the gate.

d) This ride should come with a Warning! It should state the BUBBLE RIDE may cause sensory overload!
I assumed little man would love this ride. After all I did as a child. I didn’t consider the sensory impact it may have on a child with ASD.
Note: This ride would be ideal for sensory seekers. The things a person on the spectrum may find unbearable.
. WATER: Its a slow moving ride that is water based.
. SMELL: The changing smells of bubble gum, soap, to fruity pop amoung others were very over powering.
. NOISE: The loud music that changed suddenly each time the ride entered a different area was messing with my head, so it must of done a great deal more to little mans!
LIGHTS: The ride features strobe lighting. A warning sign is displayed to show the risk for those with conditions such as epilepsy or pregnancy.
This ride frighten the life out of my little man. We purchased the ride photo that showed little man covering his head with his arms with the fear of god in his face. Another child with ASD enjoyed this ride and was now having their second turn. I had got speaking with his mother in the queue for photos who was telling me how much her son loved it. So this shows it can go either way. Sadly for us it was the wrong way. (at least Little sis had fun)

e) Bring spare clothing or waterproof wear. As fun as those water rides can be! there is nothing worse then wet wringing children! (Note the park provides halogen heated booths, but my children would not go near them)

f) Make time to visit the Zoo and Sealife centre. We did not visit the sealife centre as little man was having problems with the small queue. The Gorilla house is fantastic and worth a visit.

g) Do not wait for all the rides to finished before heading to the gift shop (open for extra 30min after park’s closing time) We did this and were faced with huge queues and a very crowded gift shop:( Stick to spending amount and do not cave with the added pressure from childs threat of tantrums.
I ended up spending way to much:(
Note: The best gift shop that offers best value for money (pocket money gifts) was the main Chessington Gift shop located in Market Square.

h) Leave before park closng time! Why? unless you want to be faced with huge queues for the bus (station a ten minute walk, little man cried like crazy as we promised the bus) Or a packed out very noisy train, that is very overcrowded? Then take my advice! We sat on the train and were surrounded by teenagers screaming and laughing. No wonder this was the reason for little mans final meltdown.

Yes we run into a few problems but we managed to still have fun. Little man loves rollercoasters and there were some smaller one like the runaway train. A train that’s a rollercoaster! Of course he loved it!

So there you have it! Chessington the Aspie way. I hope you enjoy your day, and with the help of my tips you get the best out your trip to chessington.

For Fart Sake!!!

15 May

Like most days things are a little hectic in our household. A few days ago was no exception! Yes after having  yet another not so great day at school things turned a little sour once home. Most parents of children with Aspergers will likely relate when I say at times I feel as if I am parenting a moody teenager with raging hormones with a mouth that you wished  was taped shut due to the inappropriate language that so often flies out from it. Then other times it’s like looking after a toddler when I’m chasing little man up the road or his throwing himself on the floor. Well at times the two will merge together, This combination means one thing only! A full on meltdown.

A meltdown isn’t your everyday tantrum that results because the child is unable to get their own way. It’s an extreme blow up of emotions which to others can seem like a complete exaggerated reaction to the situation. But these emotions have likely been bubbling a way inside like a volcano for quite some time. They can erupt at anytime if faced with even the smallest of triggers. When it does erupt its massive and like any volcano will often destroy anything in its path. Today was the day for our volcano to erupted and it seems to be a biggin.

I felt like taking my own head and smashing it against a few walls. ludicrous yes, crazy I am not, tired hell yer we all were. At least it wasn’t an all nighter ( Something I only used to associate with a Saturday night ) It lasted two hours, A trying and tiring two hours but this is a marked improvement. As many parents of children on the spectrum will know us as a household could off been dealt a much harder blow! Meltdowns can last anything from hours to days! Yes they stop and start but it’s a battle over the same thing and it feels like it’s never going to end. Well I’m alive ( Just about ) Alice ( little mans sister ) she is coping. Daddy his lucky to be somewhere else and Little man? His layed out on the floor eyes rolling and falling asleep completely worn out from all the excitement his caused.

Are you wondering what caused the eruption of volcano Little man? It only seems fair to share given you have read this far. Well it’s kinda hard to explain as it’s a little bizarre. Ok truth be told I just don’t know how to put this without it sounding wrong! Do I just blurt it out and what word is most appropriate ! Oh god sod it!! FART. Thats correct little mans meltdown was indeed caused by the eruption of something other than a volcano but a gush of wind, trump, blow off, letting one rip if you like. Yep a fart! This the trigger was so kindly supplied by his little sister ( Hope she never reads this ) Poor little sis tried so hard to pop one out on the sneak. She should know by now that nothing gets past super sensory little man. He heard it almost immediately smelt it?  that’s also pretty likely. He was like a manic mad child that needed dragging of his poor sister. He was kicking and screaming acting completely bonkers. What made the whole thing worse was the fact little sister laughed when he turned around and glared at her in disgust. Did she giggle with the embarrassment of having just blown off? Could have been but it’s my guess it was due to the fact  it was funny and yes I’m guilty when I say initially I did chuckle too. Little man however wasn’t laughing and just took it all the wrong way. Completely overwhelmed by the whole thing he sat on the stairs for an hour crying and banging. If u ignore the behaviour it often works and the behaviour will often diffuse itself. But when meltdowns are in full swing it’s not always possible as ignoring only caused the banging to become louder.  If I wanted to have a complete and undamaged stair case then intervention was my only option. With this I had to work hard in my mission to convince him to stop. He did eventually but just replaced it with abuse which he offered so kindly in between sobs. By the second hour It’s clear his tired as his finally stopped with the ” You didn’t tell her off for farting” And “I am going to jump from the top of the stairs so all my arms and legs break off” His now in the living room and layed out on the floor calling me fatty ( He has called me this since I was pregnant with my five month old little boy ) His also telling Alice that she is a baby because she believes in father Christmas and the tooth fairy which I tell her to ignore. Well he carried on for the hour till he finally dozed of with red eyes and sore cheeks from all the tears. All this over a little fart. I’m just extremely grateful it wasn’t one of his fathers or we would be looking on a weeks meltdown minimum.


7 May

Yes it had been some time since little man had sat in that dentist chair. Please don’t think bad of me but after our last visit we both found it hard to go back! Then there was the fact that I was always likely to pass out at the sight of needles. But we had to do it! so off we went. Why I worried I will never know, Little man seemed to enjoy this trip ( I’m guessing that’s because all she did was take a look. ) The dentist seemed really nice, she really seemed to understand little man and his needs. We where only in the room a few seconds before she asked does your son have spacial needs ? Yer that’s all routine! That’s what I fault. But as I opened my mouth to speak I could see in her eyes she know what was coming. When I said he had Aspergers, she nodded saying yes his speech is very formal that’s what I would off guessed. WOW HAS IT GOT TO THE POINT THAT YOU CAN SEE IT MORE NOW ? YES I THINK SO! I NOTICE HIS DIFFERENCES MORE EACH DAY. I remember trying to explain to doctors, teachers, family and friends my concerns for my son, In return I got some funny stares as if to say WHAT?????? I was speaking with my mum about this just the other day, and yes she agrees. Well the dentist was great, she was on a great level with little man, she was building trust with him! I was just about to discover why! Yes he would need one silver filling, not today but tomorrow at 8.30am 😦 Am I worried hell yer. She explained that often children with a condition like aspergers, find things easier ( FILLINGS ) when the parent, carer is not present to witness it happening. So I’m going to see if I get away with waiting outside. I hope so! Seeing a needle and little man in pain is to much to bear. ( I’M A COWARD I KNOW ) I haven’t told little man about what having a filling means, I’m worried the noise and felling may bring on a sensory out burst. If  I’m honest with him it will be a battle to get him there ( FOR SURE ) So my fingers are crossed that all goes well, I will be sure to update you all when we return.


2 May

img_0135img_01311As we all slept so peacefully in our beds we were woken by a loud (very loud) bang. OMG our whole living room ceiling was now a whole cloud of smoke, that filled the house. Yes the ceiling had fallen down. The dust made it hard to see or Breath The children were screaming. Then it happened! the cloud of dust had set of the smoke alarms. SENSORY OVERLOAD.  Little man was screaming, he hates the noise of the smoke alarms. This plus all the other goings on was well to much for him. Alice my little girl was also taking the whole thing badly. She was just to scared to remain in the house and was picked up at 4am by my mum.                                                                Well my newly decorated living room was now a danger zone. Lucky nobody was hurt. The housing told us it was unsafe to enter the living room. GREAT! We also had a gas leak last Tuesday and have been living with no gas. I have been informed that they are not fixing  the gas to Tuesday next week, As for the ceiling they want me to wait to the 13Th of may! So I’m unable to enter my kitchen that leads off my living room and I’m living with no gas. Did I ask to move out to the work is completed ? Of course I did! I was told NO. So despite the health dangers that face me and the children ( one of which has Aspergers ) I am still refused help!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well I’m not the kind of person to sit back and cry. I phoned the papers and they have agreed to take some pictures of our house 🙂 Take a look and let me know what you think!


7 Apr

The vodpod has now been updated.

Yes there are some fantastic new autism and Asperger’s related videos added. You have to check out the two Autism 6 videos. These films are clips of  life with the Kirton family the parents of six children all with ASD.  Im very pleased to say that John Kirton himself will be taking part in the Big Interview on this very blog A boy with Aspergers. Check this out on the 24th, April, 2009 This is one not to miss. 

Another video that grabbed me was the video explaining sensory overload. You have gotta see this one. I watched this with a pair of earphones in my ears. It really got me and I have to say that yes it brought tears to my eyes. My god anybody that copes with any type of sensory problem are really brave. This film let me see things that my little man may see on a day to day basis, even though it was for a short time, it gave me a much better understanding.

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