Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Birthday Anxiety

The build up to birthdays in our house seems to cause more anxiety these days than the actual day itself, which is an improvement. 

Our youngest son turned 7 on Sunday and had a wonderful day enjoying the rides at Wicksteed Park.  As the weather was not great when we arrived, not many people had decided to visit for the day and so there were no queues for the rides.  Not having his presents wrapped up, which people still find odd, but it makes him so much happier, helps to make the day run smoother. 

We ended up giving our main present to him last Friday to try and reduce some of the anxiety he suffered in the week before his birthday.  Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to stop the meltdowns that followed all day Friday and Saturday, but for the odd hour that he was calm on those days, he enjoyed going out on his new wiggle scooter.  It seems to be a terrific form of exercise and will help with his sensory processing difficulties.  I have yet to master the art of getting it to move forward, but he has already become a speed demon on it!

Our son has now started to ask about his 8th birthday – it will be the first time since he has been at school that it has fallen on a school day.  Up until now, he has been lucky that his birthday has been either a school training day or weekend.  Next year it will be on a Tuesday and he’s not sure how he will cope as he hates to be the centre of attention.  We have told him that we will think about this next June, but he is already asking how many sleeps until his birthday!! 

To us it seems a small thing that is a long while in the future, so we can put it to the back of our minds until nearer the time.  Our son struggles to do this and although he is using different coping strategies to deal with situations in life, learning to cope with anxiety is a difficult thing to master.  One way to describe his brain is that it is like an open filing cabinet and no file is ever closed.  Instead, he keeps the files open all the time and so the thoughts keep whirring round in his mind increasing his anxiety, rather than being able to close a file and return to it at a later date.  As he grows older, he will hopefully find a way that suits him to deal with anxiety.  In the meantime, we just need to be there to support him and if he asks the same question over and over again, it’s not because he’s forgotten the answer, but instead because he needs that constant reassurance and that is how he copes at the moment. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Busy Busy Busy!!!

It feels ages since I last sat down and wrote my blog.  I’ve come to the conclusion that June is the busiest month of the year for us as a family.  Both of our ASD children celebrate their birthdays this month.  Our daughter turned 12 last week and our youngest son turns 7 at the end of next week.  So much preparation is involved in making their birthdays a success and not a stressful day for them both. 

As they are both huge fans of Harry Potter, we are taking them to the Harry Potter Studios this weekend as a birthday treat.  Our daughter has been before with us and knows what to expect, but our youngest son has never wanted to go due to the crowds and queueing.  I have prepared him for the day with a social story and we will take a rucksack full of sensory toys/equipment to help him to feel less anxious.  There’s no guarantees it will work but it’s better to be prepared than just wing it on the day!!

On top of this, our youngest son had scarlet fever at the beginning of the month and was poorly for 10 days.  Then yesterday my husband and I attended his Statement Review meeting, which lasted 3 hours and was emotionally draining for us both.  I had already spent hours writing the parental contribution for the meeting and going through all the reports from the various professionals involved. 

I have also been involved with helping with our youngest son’s school PTA with their fete last Saturday and Fathers Day Sales this week.  Although I thrive on being busy, even I am beginning to feel the effects of such a busy month and need some downtime.  It’s not likely to come before July as we are now on countdown to how many sleeps until our youngest son’s birthday (another 11 to go!!) and in between that he has a Victorian dress up day at school which is causing anxiety as it’s not a normal day, then Sports Day and a school trip all to happen this month.  Roll on July.  The summer holidays will seem a breeze compared to this!!

Monday, 1 June 2015


This is a new phrase that I learnt about on Friday after our youngest son had an eyetest at the opticians.  Photophobia means you are sensitive to bright lights, which for our son is made worse by his hayfever, asthma and eczema.  

During his appointment he spent most of the time rubbing his eyes or blinking and it has now been recommended that he wears polarised sunglasses when out and about.  Inside, he often asks for lights to be turned off or to have the blinds closed.  If your child has a sensitivity to bright lights it maybe worth investing in a sensory den/pop up tent or let them make a den under the table so that they can shield themselves from the light.  This is a popular activity for our son.