Saturday, 18 October 2014

Puppy Love

Yesterday a 9 week old Irish Terrier became part of our family unit and life may never be the same again!!

Our children have named him Ludo – it is the one board game that they all play together and so has a special association to them.  We wanted a name that meant something to all three children and it has taken a lot of suggestions from Ruckley (our eldest son plays rugby and is learning to ruck at the moment) to Scrabble (our daughter loves this game) before we settled on Ludo.

The first 24 hours of Ludo’s life with us has been a whirlwind.  He arrived at 6.30pm last night after my husband had driven a 5 hour round trip to collect him.  It was not ideal timing as our youngest son has his swimming lesson at 7pm on a Friday, so I went out with all 3 kids before 6.30pm to ensure they all met Ludo at home at the same time, rather than our two eldest children getting to spend some time with him before our youngest son came home from swimming.  I’ve never seen such a determined face on our youngest son during his swimming lesson as I did last night, he did everything he was told to so that the lesson could finish on time and we could drive home. 

Ludo was quiet and nervous when we walked in the door.  I had told the kids to be quiet so they didn’t scare Ludo – not an easy task for 3 excited children.  All they wanted to do was scream and shout as they finally had Ludo at home with them.  Our youngest son has been marking off his countdown chart each day for the past two weeks, since we chose Ludo and had a huge smile on his face when he walked in the door.

The children went out in the garden to play with Ludo.  He was more interested in exploring the flower beds and trying to jump up on the trampoline.  He seems to have a fetish for feet and wanted to nibble our daughter’s shoes.  She screamed and started to run around the trampoline which Ludo thought was an exciting game and so he ran faster to catch up with her!

When we decided to put Ludo to bed in his crate, so that he could go to sleep after his stressful day, the children went up to their beds without any fuss.  Something that can be unheard of in our house – they must have listened to my social story of telling them that they need to be upstairs before Ludo is put to bed.  Although we had prepared them that Ludo would cry, as he would be missing his mum and siblings, we hadn’t mentioned he might howl.  They were all distressed at the noise Ludo made when he was put in his crate and wanted to rush downstairs to see what was wrong and thought I was being very harsh when I said we must leave him on his own.  They paced up and down the landing for 10 minutes until quietness fell and Ludo had gone to sleep.  When he started howling again at 4am to say he had been to the toilet, no one heard him but me!!

Today our eldest son decided a trip to Pets at Home was in order, as Ludo did not have enough toys.  He’s going to need his own toy box at this rate!!  The rest of the day has been spent playing with Ludo in the garden, telling him to go to the toilet to avoid too many accidents happening indoors and this afternoon the children built an assault course in the garden comprising of a skateboard ramp for Ludo to launch himself into a paddling pool and posts to weave in and out of on the grass.  They have decided amongst themselves that today has been day one of Ludo’s training to be the next winner of Britain’s Got Talent, just like Pudsey the dog did a couple of years ago.  The fact that Ludo is still learning his name, has no idea what the commands ‘sit’ or ‘stay’ mean does not matter.  In their eyes, he is going to be a national treasure next year and they will get the chance to appear on tv.   Although our youngest son has made it clear that he will be standing in the wings, as he does not like any attention on him. 

Tonight they have sat down and written a training programme, as well as a set of ‘Ludo Rules’ just like we have ‘Family Rules’.

Dogs are said to be calming for children with Autism and maybe Ludo will prove to have this effect.  He should give us the chance to go out and do things as a family as we can all take Ludo for a walk.  We will take each day as it comes but so far it is a positive start.  Our three children are working as a team, which is not a mean feat in our house with two ASD children, who generally want things on their terms. 

Monday, 6 October 2014

I presented a Sensory Talk!!

Anyone who knows me well, will realise that I'm not someone to sing my praises, but tonight I am proud of what I have achieved.  I have given a talk to a group of parents about our experiences as a family of Sensory Processing Disorder and the ways that we have worked to overcome the challenges that this presents to family life.

My nerves kicked in whilst I was talking, but it didn't stop me from carrying on.  It became quite an interactive session with people asking questions and I actually enjoyed that part of the talk.  I like being able to share my knowledge and hope that some of our experiences will help others.  

The fact that I got through the whole talk and people wanted to talk to me afterwards to share experiences has left me buzzing with excitement.  After not being able to sleep for the past few days due to worry about getting through the talk, I think I will have another sleepless night, but this time it will be for a good reason!

Tomorrow I will be working at my volunteer role.  I'm helping at a Sensory Exhibition for The Avenue and there will be a wealth of information, toys and equipment on display for the public and professionals to see.  If you are local to Central Bedfordshire, come down and explore the exhibition.  It is running from 10.30am - 5pm at the Pentecostal Church, Crab Lane, Biggleswade, SG18 0LN.

If someone catches me on a good day, who knows, maybe I will agree to do the talk again!  It can only get better each time I do it.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sensory Awareness Month

October is Sensory Awareness Month and this is something that I feel strongly about promoting as I had little awareness of what this meant until our two ASD children were diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder in 2012.  

The way that your body responds to the different senses has a huge impact on how you cope with life and can interfere with how a child learns at school, how they communicate, eating and sleep habits to name but a few things. 

When you see a child having a tantrum, it may not be because they are being naughty.  Instead they could be reacting to the crowds of people and the noise they are making, they may not like the bright lights or visually distracting displays or people could be too close to their personal space and it is causing them discomfort.  
I was stopped on a daily basis by complete strangers when our youngest son was a toddler and asked why he was screaming the place down.  At the time I didn't know he had Autism and had never heard of Sensory Processing Disorder.  All these people did was make me think I had a child who was prone to temper tantrums and I was doing something wrong as I could not stop him from screaming.  Instead he was suffering with internal turmoil, as he couldn't communicate his needs to me and he was either having a hyper or hypo sensitive reaction to his senses and needed help so that he could cope with the situation.

I never assume now when a child is in the midst of a temper tantrum that it is due to bad behaviour.  They could also be trying to express the pain they are feeling like our two ASD children.  Fortunately through an Occupational Therapy assessment and lots of personal research, I have found ways to help our children.  It has been a long journey and sometimes they still go into sensory overload, but we have come such a long way from when I was stopped everyday about my son's behaviour.

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.