Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sharing our Experiences

The Early Years Support Team from our local area asked me a couple of months ago to do a talk to a group of newly diagnosed parents of children with ASD.  I attended a course like this 3 years ago and know how much I learnt from it, so was pleased to be able to have the chance to use our knowledge to help others. 

This morning I was apprehensive about doing my presentation but two hours later after giving my talk and being asked lots of questions, I came away beaming as felt I had given something back to a group of people who are just beginning their journey.

By no means do I have knowledge to be able to give the answers to all difficulties that families are facing, but I can share our experiences and point people in the right direction of where to seek further support. 

Most of the advice that we have been given of ideas of what may work for our Autistic children have come from other families who are in the same situation and we are still learning as a family.  As our children approach different milestones in their development, we come across new areas where we need support, so our journey with family life with ASD is a continual learning curve.  By sharing experiences we are helping others and in turn will learn new things from other families who are further ahead in their journey of living with ASD.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Dressing up is not for everyone

Our local schools asked children to dress up as superheroes or people who are their heroes for the day to celebrate Children in Need.

Thursday evening our house was full of stress as our youngest son is not a fan of dressing up, however as he has a Superman onesie I thought he would be happy to wear that.  I was wrong and we went through a number of different outfits until he decided that he would wear a rugby top and tracksuit bottoms and go to school as his brother, who is his hero.  He went to bed in his clothes to make life easier in the morning and I thought everything was fine.

He woke up Friday morning struggling to breathe.  He has asthma and after giving him his inhaler I thought he would be ok.  Instead he kept saying that it hurt when he was breathing and he sounded very wheezy.  I took him to the doctors as a precaution as he has been on a nebuliser this year and had to have strong medicine to help with flare ups of his asthma.  

His chest sounded clear at the doctors, but as soon as school was mentioned and dressing up, it was clear to see the anxiety levels rising inside him, which were affecting his breathing pattern.  

Dressing up is a treat for some children and they enjoy the experience, others like our son are not comfortable with the whole situation.  Although we had told him he could wear his school clothes or anything else he wanted to, he kept focussing on the main point he had heard at school about being a superhero for the day.  ASD children tend to focus on one thing, rather than looking at the whole picture. Therefore, in his eyes if he wasn't a superhero, he would be in trouble when he got to school.  He is very literal in his interpretation and sees life in black and white. He didn't feel comfortable going to school as a superhero as that isn't what he would normally wear to school.  As he gets older, he will hopefully find days like this easier to manage.  

Our daughter who also has ASD was happy to go to school as Wonder Woman. However, this is probably the first year and she is now Y7, where it has not taken her hours to decide what costume to wear and for her to not be worried about what she is wearing.

Please have some understanding for children who find days that are different from the normal school routine hard to deal with.  What may seem as fun for some children, can be the end of the world for others who live by structure and routine and find change hard to embrace.

Power of Flippers

During the sensory processing course I attended this week, someone suggested our youngest son would benefit from wearing flippers when he is swimming.  He has a tendency to let his legs slump in the pool, so that he is at a 90 degree angle and although he tries hard to get his legs pumping hard and does get across the pool, he uses up a lot of strength to swim that way.  He has an underactive proprioceptive system, which means he struggles to know the position of his body, therefore when he is in a mass of water like a swimming pool, he cannot feel his legs.  By wearing flippers, he would regain some awareness in his feet. 

At his lesson on Friday, he wore flippers for the first time and his instructor was stunned by the transformation as he powered across the pool throughout the whole lesson.  The more he practises like this, the sensations will filter into his proprioceptive system and in time he will be able to use his legs on their own to swim as he will know what it is meant to feel like.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


I have loved fireworks since childhood and always went to the annual display at our local park. I have never been able to share this experience with our kids as they aren't keen on the noise or volume of people in the crowd. 

Last night our daughter asked to go to see fireworks. We took a friend from school with us, which was fine as we had planned this.  When she saw someone else from her class at the display, this completely threw her, as she hadn't been prepared for this to happen.  It stopped her going over to a stall to buy candy floss as they were standing close by and she didn't want to make eye contact with them or speak to them.  

Our daughter found the waiting around for the fireworks to start, difficult to do and she wasn't keen on how close people stand to get a good view. To overcome this she spent the whole time talking loudly during the display.  The noise of the fireworks didn't bother her and she wants to go back next year, as she enjoyed the visual attraction of the fireworks.  Maybe next year I'll be able to encourage one of our sons to go as well.

No TV Allowed

The kids were not happy with this decision but due to bad behaviour the day before, TV was not allowed on after school on Friday. This, initially, was met with a lot of protests but when the kids got home they did their homework straightaway then played a variety of board games. They devised an assault course in the living room and spent time chatting with one another, rather than arguing about what they wanted to watch on TV. You can guarantee that normally they want to watch 3 different programmes which causes a dispute in itself.

Instead calm reigned in our house and it was wonderful to see the 3 children working together as a team and finding something to do that they all enjoy and rediscovering toys they had forgotten about. 

I'm guilty of using the convenience of the TV or a DVD for the kids to watch so that I can get on with something else, but after our experience on Friday, I would be happy to go with a TV free zone after school every night.  I think this might be met with some resistance, however, I'm hoping that Friday has shown the kids that there is so much more to do with their time and they can have fun at the same time.