Tag Archives: therapy

The Kleenex man

10 Jun

I sit staring at the large white clock to the point some may think I’m fixated. It reminds me of the type of clock I used to have at school. I would stare at that clock for hours longing for time to lapse around me.

“Miss Parkinson… Miss Parkinson, can you hear me”

Shut up I thought, of course I can hear you, it doesn’t mean I want to!

But it was I who had came here, no one had asked me to, I wasn’t forced, dragged kicking and screaming.

It was I who had picked up the phone, dialled the number, made an appointment.

Now I didn’t know what to say…I didn’t… well no, I did know why I had come. But now I was confused so fucking confused.

“Miss Parkinson, have you got to be somewhere”

Bloody hell, now I felt as if I was in school! Seriously is he joking?

Sarcasm within therapy whatever next!

“No” I said

“Ok let’s get started, but at your own pace…OK?”

I nodded, I wanted to speak, really I did. I had a lot to say but now I was here my head it was all muddled like a jigsaw with pieces missing.

I had been here before, I trusted him, the man who wore the nonjudgemental face, the man who always had a box of Kleenex at the ready.

That’s why I chose here you see, I needed to see the Kleenex man!

I’m still staring at the clock, its tick and its tock can be heard through the bitter silence.

He coughs…. I look round

He smiles as he passes me those tissues.

Taking one I hold it tightly in the palm of my hand, if I don’t I know I’ll fiddle with it… likely pick it to tiny little pieces.

I take a deep breath in closing my eyes I excel opening them once more.

“Nobody believes me” I said.

I can feel it, the warm water leaving the corner of my eye. Please don’t ask me, I think. But then he speaks

“Who… Who doesn’t believe you, and what is he they don’t believe” he asks inquisitively.

Once more the room is filled with silence and I can hear the ticking and the tocking of the clock. I look down and there scattered around my feet are tiny pieces of tissue.

“Who…?” he asks once more.

As I go to open my mouth I taste the salt form my tears, like a child I catch my breath…

“The school… The school” I whimper.

Silence once more… Tick… Tock… Tick… Tock…

Then before he can ask…

“My son’s school, they don’t believe what is happening, they think it’s me… They think it’s all my fault!”

“They won’t help me… No one will, why, why won’t they help” I plead.

You see, I was close to the edge of crazy, so fucking close. The situation was costing me my health, what kind of mother would that make me? On That very day and at that very time I wasn’t aware of what I’m aware of now! The very beginning of a Journey one I never planned on taking, I don’t have a choice, no one asked me if it was okay, god didn’t ask me. I hate it when people say that god does everything for a reason, he chose me because I’m strong. Sat here writing this I remember that day with my therapist so clearly, and on that particular day I felt anything but strong! I felt desperate, I felt as if I was standing on a mountain screaming and nobody looked up… Nobody! Your little boy is hitting you, his so angry and he charges at you like some crazed bull, but his not a bull his a 6 year old child who tells you “mummy I hate you” as he rages with sheer frustration! But why is he frustrated? It’s just that, my lack of knowing… He wants me to, he needs my to understand what his feeling! I miss the trigger I then spend a lifetime discovering it. No one can teach me, I need to learn myself! But this doesn’t mean we don’t need answers… Everybody needs answers!

Ashamed I said nothing, for a while anyway. But i’m no super mum and soon I broke… Started crumbling into a heap of madness, but when I reached out, there was no one there to catch me. I didn’t say I needed parenting tips, I didn’t need some false caring stranger visiting my home and judging my parenting… Especially when I had asked my sons school for help. I felt judged, bullied… I felt disregarded! They failed to notice the bigger picture, they almost cost my child his diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, they almost cost me my sanity!

20120610-052412.jpg google images

Autistic boy aged 9 bagged up like trash

30 Dec

I’ve heard some pretty horrifying stories involving the mistreatment of children with autism spectrum disorders & special educational needs, yet this next story just angered me that little more.

A week or more ago I was sent yet another link reporting a disgusting act of abuse inflicted on a child diagnosed with autism and special educational needs. The worse part of this story was that such abuse occurred at a place most consider to be a safe and caring environment, the child’s school! The abuse in question that was inflicted on the child by those there to teach him as well as protect him from harm was that of his teacher(s).

It has been reported that a nine-year old boy who was thought to be enrolled in a special educational needs programme and was assign a teaching aide knowledgeable in autism and SEN (special educational needs) was stuffed in a large duffel bag with the drawstring toggle pulled tightly.

The Child named Christopher Baker who lives in Kentucky in the United States with his mother Sandra Baker, was stuffed into the bag because he reportedly refused to work, smirked and throw a ball across the classroom (instead of putting it down as instructed to do so by his teacher).

Yet again we are hearing about a child subjected to crawl forms of abuse due to a complete lack of care, understanding or training! This is treatment no child should be subjected to, especially those with additional needs… there is no words for the disgust I felt when reading the report, I therefore dare to think how his mother must have felt on discovering such treatment was taking place.

Mr’s Baker, the child’s mother told reporters that she was called into the Mercer County school, in-which her child was a third grader, just a few hours after her child had arrived to start his day’s learning due to reports his behaviour was becoming challenging (he was bouncing of the walls)!

On reading this I found myself nodding, it’s not uncommon as a parent to a child on the autism spectrum, to receive daily calls from your child’s school! This is not only something I relate to but a great deal of parents, nearly all those I’ve ever spoken to know all to well as this is a problem they are presented with at some part of their child’s education, especially if being taught in a mainstream school which was the case for Little man.

Mrs Baker states that on arrival she didn’t see her child but instead saw a large green duffel type bag on the floor in the middle of the school hall! The drawstring toggle was pulled tightly only leaving a small hole. Beside the bag sat a educational aide! It wasn’t in till Mrs Baker heard, “Moma is that you” coming from inside the bag did she realise that her 9-year-old autistic son was being held inside.
As a mother I dare to imagine the scale of horror and anger this mother felt on discovering her child was actually rolled up inside that bag or worse the fear felt by the child subjected to such a terrible ordeal!

What gets me is the fact a educational aide is right there, sat beside him, like this is a totally acceptable thing to do to a child.
Amazingly there was more… to add to an already shocking situation, Mr’s Baker reports how on ordering the aide to release her son while experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions, the aide actually struggled to release the child what with the toggle being pulled so tightly meaning it took longer than it should to free him. Mrs Baker made a valid but worrying point, What if there was some kind of emergency, something relating to his health or even a fire within the premisses? Seriously, it really doesn’t bare thinking about, does it!

The mother reported that once out the bag her son was clearly distressed, sweaty with eyes like half dollars, he was noticeably in a state of shock.

Christopher stated when asked by his mother why he was in the bag, it was because he didn’t do his work! Later reports from various publications state that it was this with the additional factor, he smirked and throw a ball across the classroom. Seriously, do you see this as “Challenging behaviour” It was my understanding that if a child doesn’t do his work a good teacher knows how to deal with such an issue, what good is a teacher who does not uptake and embrace such a challenge of finding a way to engage a child in such classroom activities? As for the smirked or even the ball throwing… god only knows how my son would have been treated if in this child’s shoes, for he has done things considered a thousand times more challenging while attending both mainstream and special school.

What I read next deeply troubled me and I’m guessing the whole nations parents to a child with additional needs felt somewhat the same!

Reports claim that Mrs Baker was told that the bag was in fact a type of therapy bag used as therapy for Christopher’s autism! If this isn’t a shocking enough revolution, Mrs Baker also states how she was then informed that this was not the first time her son was placed in the duffel bag!

I have to admit, having read the story I needed to stop reading for a while! I then cried for a number of people and reasons! I cried for the child in question and any other child like him subjected to such cruelty, for Mrs Baker and the emotions she felt on such a horrid discovery, but more so due to my anger at the fact the school have somehow justified such actions by branding them as therapy when really its just another use of child abuse! If I, or anyone else who parents a child on the autism spectrum, regardless of what country they were from, stuffed their child into an oversized duffel bag, leaving only a small gap for ventilation and then claimed it to be therapy, we would have our arses slung in jail and any children in our care removed and rightly so! Yet if the child’s teacher is to do such an act it is instead seen as therapeutic? Bull S#%t! It’s a joke and a massive act of injustice.

Although the case is still under investigation Mr Dennis Davis (who is reported to be the interim superintendent) stated that under state and federal confidentiality laws prohibited him from commenting! He could therefore not confirm nor deny the allegations made.

Now, Little man has thankful never been stuffed in a duffel bag as punishment, but as many know he was treated in a crawl and undignified way while in his mainstream school! Little man was carried by his arms and legs in front of other pupils through the playground, he was restrained, taught in isolation, never included in educational trips or class activities (instead left with a TA in a side room during Christmas assemblies and class parties, only close enough to hear such activities taking place). There were other things, things left unproved, Little man’s word alongside other pupils against a string of adults, incidents not fully investigated or investigated at all!

At least he eventually got a written apology, given just before the pending tribunal for disability discrimination! Mrs Baker and her son have yet to get even that!

It’s my opinion that the laws (or lack of them) surrounding restraint and isolation against children with Special educational needs both here, the states and a whole host of other places, need to be changed! Just like here in the UK, there is no laws protecting children from such actions of those above. Yes, I understand that the child who endangers his teachers, peers or themselves may need to be restrained, but in what way? It’s my opinion that this child did none of the above, he was not a danger, just a child with autism and SEN, yet regardless, how is placing a child in a duffel bag considered to be anything other than abuse?
There is no hard guidelines and practice on what is considered to be lawful restraint as I know from experience here in the UK there are far to many loop holes! How is it that most teachers teaching throughout our schools hasn’t received special training on how to handle such challenges, especially when mainstream school’s across the entire country and beyond are finding themselves educating children with autism, SEN, EBD (emotional behavioural difficulties) ADHD and a whole host of other conditions?

Sandra Baker and her son Christopher, may not live here in the UK but their story is still a story that deserves recognition by us the british public! Mrs Baker is now campaigning for those involved to stand accountable either by losing they’re teaching position or at least being fully trained to meet the needs of children like Christopher! I for one think this is more than reasonable, as in all honesty… I’d be calling for a prison sentence myself (the chances of such happenings are minimal) though it is my opinion that a person capability of such an offence should never be allowed to work with children again! Whether this is in a teaching position or that of another all together.

So… What I’m asking all my lovely loyal readers to do to help Sandra and Christopher Baker in their campaign for justice? First, if desired please watch the news report where Sandra and Christopher can be seen talking about this terrible turn of events…

Then, all, I ask is for a few seconds of your time to sign a petition on Change.Org.

This petition has already began to grab the nations support already holding an impressive 147,126 people’s signatures of those in the States and around the world! It was set up by 18-year-old Lydia Brown who is also on the autism spectrum and created the petition having heard the story and seen the publics reaction to it!

For those bloggers (especially mummy bloggers) who read my blog I’d love for you to share this and engage others to sign the petition, whether that’s via a little tweeting, a small post, or a bit of facebooking! I know I have some pretty influential contacts so please help Christopher get justice for the abuse he suffered.

Autism Awareness Ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

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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