Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ludo's First Week

3am wake up calls, worms and howling have not been the highlights of the past week, but definitely formed a big part of it!!  Fingers crossed we have made a breakthrough with Ludo’s sleeping pattern as he has slept the past two nights from 11pm until 6am and the howling when we put him in his crate at night has reduced from ten minutes to a couple of minutes.  We are making progress.

Worms are not a pleasant sight but something that all puppies have and if you happen to see long spaghetti strands in your puppy’s poo, you have had an unlucky but pretty normal experience.  Fortunately this only lasted a couple of days for Ludo and he is fighting fit again.  

Our daughter, who is a perfectionist is miffed that she has not accomplished her training programme of Ludo learning to sit, stay and roll over in week one, but he has learnt the sit command and went to his first puppy training session tonight. Ludo was the smallest dog there, as most were 6 months or older, but he held his own and even managed the agility course.  Now that he has done this, our daughter has planned a doggy dance routine for Ludo to learn.  She is reading a book about Pudsey the dog that won Britain’s Got Talent, so Ludo has a lot to live up to!!  

Our youngest son has found a fantastic use for clicking his tongue, which is a habit he does regularly when anxious.  Ludo is a reluctant walker at the moment, as he gets used to the big wide world, but if our youngest son clicks his tongue, Ludo comes trotting along, rather than sitting down and refusing to budge.  Ludo is becoming a fabulous tool to help our youngest son - he has read his school book to him this week, which is something he hates to do at home and he sat and stroked him tonight to calm himself down from the brink of a meltdown. It is early days but so far it is looking good.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Sensory Play Workshop

Last night I attended a sensory play workshop hosted by The Avenue ( with Wendy Usher from The Play Doctors ( running the training.  Wendy has a fabulous job creating sensory play ideas for children, parents, teaching staff etc to use at home and in school.  It is clear to see how much she loves what she does and her training session was motivating to listen to.  I have come away with an array of ideas to try and my mind is buzzing with projects I want to explore over the half term holiday.  Although this could prove to be difficult with our puppy Ludo, currently trying to chew everything within his reach!

Who would have thought that by putting chocolate cellophane wrappers inside a clear cellophane bag like you use to put handmade cards in, would offer different experiences for a child.  As well as being visually attractive and could be hung on a child’s window, so that the light reflecting through it can change the colours, it is very tactile and makes a lovely rustling sound.  I’m definitely going to make one and it’s a good excuse to buy and eat a tub of Christmas chocolates that are currently stocked in the supermarkets!

If you place different materials inside a balloon e.g. rice/waterbeads/small stretchy toy, you can have a game of catch and listen to the various noises that each object makes.  They can be used as musical instruments or a way to get your child’s attention, as they will respond to the sound they make.  We all did last night when Wendy used a variety of homemade noise makers to alert us, that it was time to move onto the next item.

Wendy has thousands of ideas that are easy to replicate at home and can be used with objects you generally already have or they are not expensive to buy.  The message that we took away from last night's workshop was that the most important aspect of sensory play is that you are having fun with your child and they are leading the play.  If the end result is not what you had planned it doesn’t matter, as the experience you have shared together is what counts.  

Go and have some sensory fun during the half term break.

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.