Yesterday I visited the Autism Show at the Excel Centre in London for the first time. As you walked into the show you were greeted by the awesome sight of a robot that is being used in schools as therapy for autism http://www.optimusic.com/nao-interactive-robot. It would be a wonderful concept for the home, if it was more affordable.
A sensory playroom was another attraction of the show with a moving aquarium lighting up a wall and an interactive xylophone on the floor with coloured bubble towers and optic fibres illuminating a darkened area. It had such a calming feel and would be enjoyed by everyone to destress. I wish we had the space and money (!!) for a room like this at home, as it would be a wonderful retreat for our kids when they feel their anxiety levels rising. I'm sure I would benefit from it as well!!
My head is still buzzing from the wealth of information that was available and I have come away with so much literature to read and been inspired by talks that I heard.
Alis Rowe who is an author and creator of the Girl with the Curly Hair Project is 25 years old and was diagnosed as an adult with ASD. She gave a heartfelt talk on the '10 'Curly' Components for Communicating with your ASD Loved Ones'. It was thought provoking and whilst she was talking I could visualise both of my ASD children saying the comments that Alis finds difficult to comprehend when communicating with others. The message was clear that anyone with ASD needs closure and instead of shrugging off a comment or not giving a concise reason for why something has happened, it is important for someone with ASD to have a definitive answer to stop them worrying. Without this, they will never find closure and this is why a few months later, we find our children suddenly bringing up a question that we thought had been dealt with, but in their heads, it is still unanswered. Another important concept which as parents of ASD children we appreciate is the need for visual aids, whether it be pictures or text, as someone with ASD finds face to face interaction overwhelming as there is so much to process in their heads with speech, body language and facial expressions. Listening to Alis has made me stop and think how as parents we communicate to our children and ways we can adapt it, to lessen their anxiety.
I listened to a talk given by an Occupational Therapist called Nicci Paine who works for Leap Children's Therapy. She diagnosed both of our ASD children with sensory processing disorder in 2012 and I managed to get the chance to speak to her after her talk to tell her how she has revolutionised the lives of our children from the advice she gave us.
The only downfall of attending the Autism Show is that today I have felt the comeback from my two ASD children for the fact that I had a day out on my own!! Challenging behaviour has been in full force in our household today and it's been stressful, but as I keep reminding myself, I am entitled to time to myself. The knowledge that I have gained from attending the Autism Show can only enhance family life.