Thursday, 18 September 2014

97 Sleeps to Christmas!!

I had really hoped I would avoid knowing how many sleeps there are before Christmas until we were much closer to December. Unfortunately, I have not been so lucky and our youngest son is already asking for a countdown chart, which I have refused to do until our other son celebrates his birthday in November.  I also don't want to add to the anxiety of our youngest son who is not a big fan of Christmas and the more he thinks about it, the worse he anxiety develops.  

He is already asking if he has to take part in the Christmas Play at school, as he does not like being the centre of attention and standing up in front of people.  Even going into the shops will start to prove a problem, as there are Christmas items creeping into the aisles.  

This week's question has been why does Father Christmas have presents in his sleigh as he should have money instead, as you don't need to wrap it up.  This is due to our youngest son not liking his presents wrapped up.  I can see the logic in his thinking, as it suits the way he feels about Christmas, but our other children are not so happy as they want presents!!  

It could be a rocky few weeks getting to Christmas with lots of tantrums, meltdowns and sensory overload, but fingers crossed the subject will not arise again until we get to at least 50 sleeps.  I can live in hope anyway!!

Disappearing Cellotape!!

We can always tell that our youngest son is stressed when our cellotape disappears. He spent last night wrapping a whole roll of cellotape around a scrunched up piece of paper. He finds it to be a great way to calm down and it is good that at the age of six he is developing strategies to alleviate his anxieties. It also means I need to make a trip to Poundland and stock up on cellotape as I guarantee that when I need it there will be none in sight!!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Homework Stresses

It's week two of returning to school after the summer holidays and the stress is starting to show. Last week I was surprised as to how calm our daughter was about entering Year 7. It seemed too good to be true and now the bubble seems to have burst with huge meltdowns occurring each night and refusal to go to bed until late. Homework is the root of the problem as our daughter is now getting two pieces every night. The work is well within her capability but she struggles with prioritising which one should be done first and then tries to do them all at the same time, which results in nothing getting done.

We appear to have reached a compromise and I have got her to write each subject on the blackboard in her room with the date the homework is due next to it. I'm hoping that now she can see it visually in one place she can work out which subject needs to be handed in first and can concentrate on that.  We will see how this plan goes over the next week or so.  If it doesn't work, I'll have to think of another strategy.  We will get there in the end though!

Monday, 1 September 2014

End of the Holidays

The summer holidays seem to have whizzed by far too quickly again and tomorrow the new school year begins.  It’s going to be a tough week in our household with changes for all three kids.

Our daughter begins Year 7 and their daily structure has changed with five one hour long lessons, rather than six 50 minute ones and break and lunch time are now later.  She also has to get used to the fact that one of her brothers is joining her at school.  Their paths shouldn’t cross too much apart from when I drop them off and pick them up each day, but it is an added stress for her to deal with.  She likes to keep home and school life very separate and when they were both at lower school, teachers remarked that you wouldn’t have known they were siblings, as our daughter avoided her brother with the widest berth possible!!

Our eldest son begins his journey in Middle School and although he comes across as the most confident of the three children, he is nervous about starting somewhere new.  He will soon find his feet though and he’s lucky to have two close friends with him in his new class that he has known since nursery school.

Our youngest son starts Year 2 tomorrow and has the hardest task as he has a new teacher, new 1:1, two new TAS who work in the classroom and a new dinner lady to get used to.  Plus he is upset that his brother will no longer be around at school – they used to play at lunch time and break and were often seen to give each other a hug or a beaming smile to one another.  It is such a contrast to the relationship our daughter has with our eldest son at school.

Hopefully, all three children will soon settle into their new routines.  If I expect the worst this week, it can only get better!!  Good luck to all of you out there who will go through similar experiences this week.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Simple Childhood Pleasures

I read an article today about how the most memorable childhood experiences are often the simple pleasures in life, like eating fish and chips at the seaside, fossil hunting, watching the stars at night etc.

We experienced this last week whilst camping for 5 days. We were only 10 miles from home but it felt as if we were in the depths of the countryside. The campsite was a huge field with a play area, a shop and showers. I won't go camping unless I can have a shower each day!! Our children were happy to fly a kite, kick a football, go on the playground, run up and down the skateboard ramp, toast marshmallows over the bbq each night, as well as a daily visit to the shop for some penny sweets. Our youngest son made a request one day to be wrapped up as a 'Mummy' in toilet roll.  He said it was something he had always wanted to do and I think he enjoyed being tightly wrapped up as it helped with his sensory processing as he likes to be hugged tightly.

Sometimes we all think our children need lots of toys and electrical devices like iPads, DS, computer games etc to be happy, but then a trip away like we had last week reminds us that it is just as important for children to have free play to enjoy the environment around them and they will find ways to have fun without having a whole toy cupboard to choose from.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Helping to control a child's anger

When children have ASD, you may notice that they fly into a rage more often than your ‘neurotypical’ child and it can take longer to calm them down.  Over the past few years, our children have learnt different ways to deal with their anger – they don’t always work and some take longer than others to take effect.  I’m always reading articles or tips from other parents to see if I can find other ways to help them.  I came across the following article on the internet:

I found it to be an interesting read and my youngest son has now made his own angry basket, which has various tools inside it to help him keep calm.  These include bubble wrap for him to either jump up and down on or to squeeze, cloud dough (the squeezing motion helps to release his anger), loom bands (he finds these relaxing to do), a sensory waterbead bottle I’ve made at home, which he likes to shake and watch and a paper boat.  You may ask what is a paper boat for?  When I read the article, one suggestion to help your child to regulate their breathing pattern when they become angry is for them to lie down and place a paper boat on their stomach.  They are asked to imagine that their stomach is the ocean and as they breathe deeply, they make the boat bob up and down on the water.  Our son has adapted this story and likes to watch the boat rising up and down on him and concentrate so that the boat doesn’t capsize and fall off of him.  It’s amazing how something so simple can calm him down. 

The angry basket is close at hand in our living room and our son knows he needs to take it to a beanbag that he has designated as his quiet area and use the tools inside to make him feel calm again.  So far it is having a positive impact on him.  It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a go if your child struggles with controlling their anger and by involving them in what goes inside the basket, you are letting them take charge of how to help themselves.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Day Trip to London

Venturing into London with our youngest son is something we have avoided due to his loathing of busy areas. Today I decided to bite the bullet and take all three kids to London. The eldest two have been on frequent visits and although our daughter can find it overwhelming, she copes with it in her own way - normally by holding my hand and talking/singing loudly!

Our youngest son went prepared for a day out in a busy area and wore a hat and sunglasses and took his silicone earplugs. These are all different ways he has learnt to cope with sensory distractions.

After a longer than normal train journey as there had been signal problems, we arrived at Kings Cross and met my mum. First port of call was the Harry Potter shop in the station and our youngest son used the power of his puppy dog brown eyes so that Nanny would buy him a mini Hedwig owl to add to his soft toy collection.  The puppy dog eyes never fail!!

Going into Kings Cross station isn't the best location to find things to do within walking distance but using the underground as well today would have been a step too far for our son.  Behind the station, a lot of building work is transforming the area and we found some outside fountains for the children to run in and cool down in this hot weather. We had a picnic by the canal and then the heavens opened and thunder and lightening struck.  We made a dash for the shops in St Pancras station and at our youngest son's request we saw a Eurostar train.  

It may not have been the most exciting of visits, but three hours in London was plenty of time for our six year old on his first trip to London.  He stood up most of the way home on the train out of choice, but I think he was enjoying the vestibular input from the rocking motion of the train.  On the journey the stress of the day began to show and he was screeching loudly, picking fights with his siblings and clicking his tongue, which is a sign of anxiety.  It was a packed train, although we had avoided rush hour and he didn't like the other passengers looking his way.  

Three hours after arriving home, he finally calmed down.  Toys had been thrown everywhere and he had made a den under the seat of the armchair to retreat to.

I'm looking upon it as a successful day out and the more trips we do like this, the easier it will get.  We need to take small steps so I may do another couple of trips like this before I build in a short journey on the underground.  It is important to prepare our ASD children for life and do normal days out like other families, we just have to be patient and do it in a stepping stone style so that our children adjust and develop their own coping mechanisms to deal with life around them.  We also ensure our eldest son has separate day trips to London with one of us, so that he can enjoy the things he wants to see without having to worry about the needs of his siblings.