Tuesday, 22 April 2014

End of the Easter Holidays

It has been a fun filled two and half weeks and I’m sad to see the kids going back to school tomorrow.  We’ve made the most of the time and been outdoors in the sunshine.  The kids have been riding their bikes, using roller skates, climbing trees, planting vegetables in the garden, spent a day at the seaside, visited a local zoo and had friends over to play.  Fortunately it is a short half term with only four and half weeks before the next holiday, which will then be a camping trip for us, so will be stressful in itself for our ASD children as it is a change to their normal routine and will need a lot of preparation over the coming weeks.

Before I can even think of camping, we have a few other things to deal with that are coming up.  This week our youngest son’s class are doing an assembly in front of parents and he has already started to panic about it.  I have been able to calm him today and tell him that there is no need for him to worry, as I have already got permission from the head teacher for our son to go into school late that day, rather than take part in assembly.  His anxiety about standing up in front of people overwhelms him and until he feels comfortable doing this, it is not fair to put him under unnecessary stress.  Until Friday morning has arrived, he will ask us each day if he needs to stand up in front of school.

Our daughter is in Year 6 and has 4 days of SATS tests next month, followed by a residential school trip the week after.  Both of these events are liable to cause her a huge amount of stress and will need preparation both at school and home.  

It may be a short half term, but a lot is going to happen, so I think I will eat up my Easter chocolate this week to give me the energy to match my restless ASD children, who are likely not to sleep well and worry about everything until their moments of anxiety have passed.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Holidays so far

The familiar holiday question has been asked every morning as soon as our youngest son wakes up 'is it school today?' He has no concept of time.  We have given him a whiteboard which he writes the number of sleeps until he returns to school each day, but he doesn't seem to retain the information and so each day we go through the process several times.

The first week of the holidays has gone quickly and we've filled it with having friends over to play and Nanny has been to stay. We went to Wrest Park, a local English Heritage place to visit and met up with some friends. The kids had a lovely time running about in an open space, rolling down a slope and climbing trees. There is a huge tree in the grounds with branches that touch the grass. The kids can hide inside the branches and our youngest son found this to be the ideal place to overcome his selective mutism which flared up as he was out in public and he's never comfortable being around lots of unknown people. He was happy to chat to our friends in there as he couldn't see any of the adults on the outside. 

One of the favourite activities the kids have completed this week is to clean all the garden toys. The water and sand table has then been turned into dinosaur world by our youngest son. He has hatched a toy dinosaur from an egg and watched it grow in water. He has now built it a home with water, rocks and leaves as food. He assures us it is not a carnivore!! We are going to buy some sand for the other half of the table so that he can make dinosaur footprints and build it a cave. Dinosaurs are one of his passions and playing like this gives him lots of tactile sensory experiences and a way for him to explore his imagination.  This is not a skill that comes easy to someone with ASD.

Sometimes it is the simple things in life like playing with nature that offer our children the most amount of fun and it also helps with sensory processing difficulties, as these activities offer sensory input in many forms which can help to calm challenging behaviour that children with ASD are prone to present. In today's world of electrical devices, it is easy to forget the old fashioned fun that we enjoyed as kids and the benefits it can offer.  As a parent I notice all our children are calmer and more relaxed in the summer months when they can go outside and run off their energy, so we will make the most of the sunshine and be active.

Visit to the Dentist

This week, it was time for our biannual check up at the dentist.  Our dentist is very good and makes the appointment as pain free as possible. All three kids started the appointment by fighting over who would sit in the chair last!! Once this had been decided, everyone took their turns to sit in the chair until it came to our youngest son.  He refused to sit on his own and instead sat on me and asked me to tightly hug him which helps to keep him calm.  One thing I had forgotten is that he doesn't like the light above the dentist chair and he asked me to cover his eyes. I have written a reminder in my diary for October to bring his sunglasses next time to help shut out the glare of the light. The dentist also suggested that the goal for our next visit is for our youngest son to sit on the dentist chair by himself. To help him with this all three kids have been playing 'dentists' this week taking it in turns to sit in a chair whilst the others play the role of dentist and dental nurse.  We'll have to keep practising and hope it works when we next see the dentist in October. 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

World Autism Awareness Day

Many of you may have seen posts on Facebook highlighting that today is World Autism Awareness Day. It seems to be a huge event in the USA but not as prominent in the UK. Hopefully this will improve in time, as from my experience of being a mum of two ASD children, I am coming into contact with more families that are affected by autism.

What would my 2 ASD children like you to know about autism?
My daughter wants to impress upon the world that it is not just boys who have autism, girls are affected too. After being diagnosed just over three years ago, she has only come across two other girls who have autism, but there may be many girls out there who go undiagnosed as they are able to mask the traits.

Although my youngest son who at the age of five is too young to know what autism means, he is aware that his 'brain gets cross'. He gets frustrated that people do not understand that things make him angry if they are not done in a certain manner or if he is feeling hyper/hypo to a particular sense, but unless he is at home, he's unable to convey to people what is wrong and so bottles up his frustrations when he is at school.

What would my 'neurotypical' son like the world to know?
Siblings of ASD children need support and although we are lucky to have a siblings group in our area that our eldest son attends each month, he would benefit from being able to spend more time with siblings in the same situation as him and understand what it is like to live with a sibling who has ASD.

What would I as a mum of ASD children like the world to know?
The child you see may be very different from the child we see at home. A lot of ASD children use coping strategies to get through the school day then explode when they are back in the comfort of their own home. It is frustrating as a parent to hear 'we can't believe ... has meltdowns at home as we only see a happy, smiley child'.

Remember that a child with autism is one child and each child that has autism may behave in a different way. It is a spectrum for the reason that difficulties can range from being mild to very severe. No two 'neurotypical' children are the same and no one would question that, so why do people think they can stereotype all ASD children as having the same traits. They are all individual and special in their own way. 

I wouldn't change anything about my children - all I would like to change is the way that others perceive them.