Thursday, 30 January 2014

Dinosaur ABC

I never realised there were so many different dinosaurs when I began my search this week to create a dinosaur alphabet to help our youngest son with his literacy skills. 

What I thought might be a long job turned our to be an easy task as the tv programme Dinosaur Train shown on nick jr has a song called Dinosaurs A to Z. You can find it on YouTube. 

There's a page of dinosaur pictures for each letter which our son has begun to cut out and stick onto a piece of card and then write the name of the dinosaur. There are lyrics for the song which is helping me to learn how to pronounce the different dinosaurs!! 

It's a new thing for us to do each evening and we are both having fun and learning together. 

Hoping to have superhuman hearing

Since June last year, medical professionals have been unable to see either ear drum of our youngest son due to the amount of wax he has compacted into his ears by sticking his fingers in them.  After using 3 different types of eardrops over the past 7 months, our GP approved this month for him to have his ears syringed.  It is not something they do for 5 year olds very often, in case they wriggle as there’s a risk of perforating the ear drum. 

Today, he was a brave little man and sat still whilst his ears were syringed.  It was amazing to see how much wax could appear from someone so little and he was most interested to investigate what had been causing him discomfort.

The nurse told me to expect it to take a day for our son’s ears to readjust and we are waiting to see if removing the wax will make him more sensitive to noise, as he is not a big fan of loud noises, unless he is making it!!  Or he could become like his sister who can hear conversations that are taking place downstairs when she is upstairs in her bedroom!  We know he is hoping he will have superhuman hearing like Superman, one of his many superhero idols.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Dinosaur Numeracy

Our youngest son is not enjoying school life at the moment. He keeps telling us he is fed up of learning and sitting down. Naturally he is an active boy who wants to play rough and tumble, be outside and do lots of sensory activities. This weekend we have done mini circuit training like I do at bootcamp and he has loved doing the bear crawl, squats, crab walk, push ups and star jumps etc. However, although this is very important and forms part of his sensory diet, which is an essential part of him being able to cope with daily life, we also need to encourage him to learn so that he can enjoy different aspects of life and have a chance to reach his full potential. 

One way to help a child with ASD is to harness their learning to their passions/obsessions. One of our son's interests is dinosaurs and we have lots of them at home ranging from plastic ones, to glow in the dark, puppets, stretchy and talking dinosaurs. He also loves numbers and so today I have incorporated the two activities by using a dinosaur stamp to make basic sums. 

It is simple and easy to do and to our son it is a fun way to learn numeracy. He is a visual learner so being able to see the dinosaurs to count them encourages him to do a task he might not normally enjoy. 

My homework for this week is to learn the dinosaurs by name so that I can create a dinosaur alphabet! 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Water Beads - Sensory Fun

Squidgy, squelchy, slippery water beads are amazing sensory fun.  They start as little seed like balls which you put in a container and fill with a litre of water and 4 hours later they have transformed in size and texture. 

Water Beads before you add water

Water Beads after you have added a litre of water and left for 4 hours

They are great way for getting used to a wet texture and our daughter has been using them as a mini hand massage - covering her hand with them, as she finds the water beads relaxing to touch.  Our youngest son is having fun trying to pick them up with chop sticks – a fantastic way to learn fine motor skills.

They are not expensive and easy to order from Amazon.  I have yet to try, but it says once they dry out, they will revert back to their original size and then can be reused at a later date by adding more water to them.

Friday, 10 January 2014

New Year, New Bedtime Routines

Returning to school this week at the start of the new year has heralded a new bedtime routine in our house.  Things tend to slip during the holidays, however hard we try to keep the normal routines going.

All 3 kids go upstairs at 8pm which may seem unfair when their ages range from 5-10 but this way they are all in the same place without me having to keep reminding them to go upstairs.  Our two ASD children need constant prompting of what they need to do, so this helps them as well as me.  It has also made the bedtime routine last 50 minutes so far this week rather than 2 hours as it did in the holidays!! All 3 of them get ready for bed then I spend 10 minutes with each of them in their bedrooms. I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes and have been spending that precious quality time with each of them doing something of their choice. 

Our youngest son has wanted me to read a story to him and help him to tell the time. I've played a game with our eldest son and he's tried to explain minecraft to me!! Our daughter has used the time to talk to me about things that have been bothering her all day which is an important release mechanism for someone with ASD. If she bottled everything up like she has done in the past it would result in no sleep for either of us as she would be up all night worrying. To try and make her 10 minutes more positive I have asked her each night to write on a post it note at least one thing that has made her happy or laugh during the day. She then folds it up and puts it in a box. At the end of the month we will look at all her notes together. I'm hoping it will help to improve her self esteem and make her realise there are a lot of good things in her life. It's very easy for her to get sidetracked and focus on the negatives - common in ASD.

I guarantee when the 10 minute slot has finished with our daughter, little man is still wide awake but he has been calmer this week and happy to let me put a story cd on for him to listen to so that I can go back downstairs.  The oldest two tend to read for a little as well. 

It won't always work so smoothly, as after school activities like cubs, street dance etc for the 2 oldest children mean that bedtime will fluctuate on some days, but it's a positive start to the new year and for the moment, calm has been restored at bedtime!!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Trying to get fit!

One of my new year's resolution is to get fit and when I saw an advert for a local fitness centre doing free taster sessions I thought it was worth a go to see what they had on offer.  I talked one of my walking buddies into going and we planned to do kettlercise and pilates today. We hadn't realised that they would be full length classes and an hour of kettlercise turned out to be harder work than we had anticipated, especially after the festive break with no exercise and plenty of eating in excess!! 

Everyone was dressed in black fitness clothing and were slim. I had gone for comfort and had a loose fitting green t-shirt on. What I hadn't bargained for was floor to ceiling mirrors along one wall.  I took my place at the back of the room - it looked as if there was a green mountain on the horizon!! You do all the exercises for a minute which helps, as you feel as if the end is in sight and it's not too repetitive. We used a 2 kg weight but after holding it for half an hour my arms were aching and I was worried that I may lose my grip and launch the weight in the air or drop it on my head, as many of the exercises are done by lifting the weight above your head. 

We survived the hour and although my abdominal muscles were screaming in pain as they have not been worked that hard in a while, it felt good that I had completed the session and I have already bought a kettlercise weight to use at home to do shorter bursts of exercise. I'm not sure I can manage an hour long session again!!  Although our youngest son has found a use for it and has spent the afternoon carrying it around with him. It's great for his proprioception difficulties and he's incorporating it into the obstacle course he builds daily in our house.

My friend and I have now decided to start Boot Camp next weekend - we must be mad!!