Monday, 24 March 2014

Quality Time with our 'Neurotypical' Son

On Saturday I enjoyed the opportunity to share our eldest son's passion of rugby. My husband and I took him to Wembley to watch Saracens vs. Harlequins. He went as part of his rugby team and they paraded on the pitch with their club before the game begun. I have never been to Wembley before and soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed the entertainment on the pitch before the game, as well as seeing my son's face light up whilst he watched the game and tried his best to share the laws of the game with me. I'm not sure I've remembered them but to see him relaxed, continuously smiling and so happy was the biggest reward of the day for me. 

He is a happy boy by nature, caring and extremely sensitive to his siblings needs and understands that at home sometimes their demands, meltdowns etc can take over a situation. However, a day out like we had on Saturday gives us all the chance to have some much needed quality time together away from the pressures of family life with ASD. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

How a small change can upset a routine

This week our youngest son's swimming instructor called to inform us that she wanted to introduce another child to his lesson. He has already progressed to swimming with armbands and a woggle to being able to swim a short distance with no armbands. The natural progression is for him to learn to swim with another pupil. He was not happy when we started to prepare him with this change at home this week but seemed to accept this was what was going to happen. 

When we arrived at the swimming lesson on Friday he refused to get changed and was crying that he needed to swim on his own. We explained that the new pupil had never swam before and was hoping our son could show her what to do as he's now the expert! He wasn't going to fall for that and was stamping his feet and refused to come out of the changing room. The swimming teacher spoke with him and encouraged him to show his swimming skills. In the end we carried him out to the pool and took off his t-shirt and trousers as he already had his swimming trucks on underneath and passed him to the teacher who was already in the pool. The expression on his face reflected his angry mood and his selective mutism was apparent as he was reluctant to talk to his teacher with someone else in the pool and their parent watching. Our son does not like attention on him. 

His biggest fear was that the other child would splash him and as soon as he registered their legs were kicking he closed his eyes. During the lesson we gradually saw him relax in the water as he enjoys swimming and after 30 minutes there was a small smile on his face. 

Although it may seem harsh that we made him get into the pool, It was important that we did not allow our son to control the situation. We will persevere and have a joint swimming lesson again next week and hope that each week it will get easier and he will become happy to swim alongside another pupil.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Party girl

Our daughter went to a disco last night for a friend's birthday party. As she struggles with friendships due to her ASD, it's not often that she receives invitations for parties so she was both excited and nervous about the prospect of going. Fortunately it started an hour after her 3 hour theatre arts group she attends each Saturday, so she had very little time to worry about it. 

When we arrived at the party she was a little hesitant about going into the disco as she couldn't see a familiar face. She looked like a frightened rabbit staring back at you in your headlights. I felt guilty about leaving her on her own but but she was brave and went in. 

She was happy when she came home and said she had entered a talent competition at the party doing a dance show and they came second. Participating in an activity that she loves and is able to hide behind, boosts her confidence and self esteem. 

Sometimes it is necessary to put our ASD children in situations that they may find stressful so that they can come out the other side and realise they can face their fears and succeed. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

World Book Day Anxiety

Every year we face the same dilemma - what to wear on World Book Day?  

Today our daughter chose to go as Gangsta Granny, a character from a David Walliams book. She made her own mask and loot bag and seemed fine last night. Today she wasn't so sure and didn't want to get out of the car when we got to school. She doesn't enjoy attention and finds social chit chat hard to deal with, so didn't want to enter Into conversation about who she had come as. Plus the structure of the school day was different as everything was focused on literacy rather than following the normal timetable - changes to normal routine like this are unsettling to people with ASD. In the end, the day was more enjoyable than she had expected and she came home happier, but was relieved to get changed back into her normal clothes ready for her street dance class.

Our eldest son enjoyed the chance to wear normal clothes and opted for an easy choice of Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

Onesies and character pyjamas have revolutionised clothes for our youngest son and he would choose to live in them all day if he could. It's a shame they don't make a school uniform onesie as mornings would run so much smoother!! He wore his Mike Wazowski pyjamas and was happy with his choice.  As we walked to school, he already had his hood up to shield himself from sensory distractions, but upon entering the playground he cowered behind me. He's used to walking in there each day but I think he found the sight of children in costumes with props like broomsticks and swords all too much as it was so far removed from a normal day especially when all the teachers came out in their costumes. When I picked him up from school he was quieter than normal and agitated. In the car he started kicking the dashboard and his feet narrowly missed the windscreen. Once we arrived home the kicking and screaming built up to the extent that I had to hold him tightly in a bear hug to stop him breaking things.  He likes firm pressure so finds this relaxing. Calm is now restored and he is fast asleep but it's taken a few hours to reach this point. 

Something as simple as dressing up for a day can turn a child's life upside down when they have ASD. Roll on tomorrow and normality will reign once more until the next little trigger upsets the world of our children.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Family Rules

Who would think it could be so difficult to write a set of family rules.  We’ve done it before when the kids were younger with not many arguments involved.  For the past two weeks I’ve tried to update them and have involved everyone in the discussions. 

Our 10 year old daughter who has Oppositional Defiant Disorder and finds rules a difficult concept to understand at the best of times decided that the only rule we should have is that ‘there are no rules!’.  Our five year old son suggested a rule we need is that we must buy a dog.  Our eldest son just wanted to be allowed to play on his DS whenever he chose to.

We have ended up with a set of non negotiable rules that includes we must respect everyone and their property and Mum and Dad’s word is final, as well as a set of negotiable rules that includes there are time limits on how long you can play computer games but these may change depending upon your behaviour.

Everyone is aware of the rules and the consequences for breaking the non negotiable ones.  So far so good.  How long it stays that way is anyone’s guess, but I do know that our children benefit from having boundaries set.   Everyone works well when they know what is expected of them.  By letting our children be involved in making the rules, it teaches them responsibility and will make for a calmer and happier environment to live in.