Category Archives: autistic spectrum

Feeling Christmassy

We are big into Christmas this year. My little man is now 5 and fully on board with the “Christmas Countdown” (sorry we don’t do Advent, not religious just appropriating the traditions)

Highly recommend this classic Alfie’s Christmas (thanks Grandma) Being a very literal being, Little A wants to replicate the book. He wants a red scooter under the tree just like Alfie. We also have to make Christmas Tree biscuits. So that’s what we are doing this afternoon. I use the term “we” in the loosest sense.

Challenges we face:

  • Not eating all the batter
  • Love/hate the mixer. Love to watch it. Hate to hear it.
  • Oven on is scary because Mum made the smoke alarm go off before
  • Mum is not great at baking (see last point)

Despite this, we did cutting and baking and we might decorate once Little A has eaten a few.

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Stickers and awards

My heart soared today as my son came out of school – I thought he had won a medal. It turned out to be his chewy that he insisted on bringing home (it’s supposed to stay in the classroom as we have them at home already)

I shook off the silly thought and the sting of tears. It’s not like he accepts stickers or praise. In fact I have been reading that demand avoidance makes it very hard for some people to accept praise because it is quite stressful to feel someone else is giving you that recognition. But still, I see other children rewarded with stickers and certificates and for a silly fleeting moment I thought this was his day.

And really that just says that I like that praise. It’s a very social practice isn’t it? One unlikely to motivate or excite him. But it’s just another way life is a bit different for us. And let’s face it being five in a confusing classroom environment, you probably do deserve a medal!

Dreading a call

I can’t be the only parent whose stomach plunges when the name of their child’s school comes up on your phone. My school helpfully prefaces every call “it’s nothing to worry about but…” This means I don’t panic he’s come to harm, but I do worry about these calls in fact I would say I feel more than worry. Dread is that peculiar mixture of fear and over-active imagination that pervades your day and doesn’t let you forget them for a minute when they’re not with you.

Sadly I have had a few of these calls recently. Incidents have occurred at school. Behaviour they want me to explain or manage. It’s a battle: understanding they have to discipline him like any other child (welcome to the mainstream, kid) and communicating all the reasons why I think things have gone wrong. And then right at the bottom of all these calls real source of the dread: he’s so vulnerable, I don’t know if he can cope and is he in the right place at all?

As the SENCO has said to me, unfortunately they’ll never call to say he’s had a good day. Is this just a low that we have to live with, always an uncertainty about what has happened today?

To the man in the playground who looked down on us…

…because my son is wearing shorts, on a cold day. My advice to you is don’t judge first because you never know.

Whether it’s because Little A doesn’t like change or because he finds cotton irritates his legs, he will be wearing shorts to school rain or shine. I thought I was mean for a little while too but my husband reminded me he wasn’t ALLOWED to wear trousers at Prep school until he was 11. And indeed I wore a skirt and long socks to school throughout Primary School.

He also won’t wear a hat or gloves or scarf. Given his tactile sensitivity he is probably too disturbed by the feel although he may gradually be desensitised. I never wear a hat either so maybe not! There is also the possibility that he doesn’t feel the cold like other people. All his other senses are underdeveloped or maybe just processed differently so why shouldn’t his sense of environment be different from you?

Next time you tell your friend about my child in shorts who must be cold, why don’t you ask the parent if you really can’t keep quiet about your concerns?

Finally, you’re in a freezing cold playground wearing just a scarf with jeans and a tee-shirt, aren’t your arms cold?!

Clock changes

Blurry thoughts from another 4am wake up. Changed the clocks again, didn’t they?

As much a I am enjoying my evenings back with pre-8pm sleep (haven’t seen that in a few years), I am not loving second 4am wake up in a row. Then the other “night” discussing where the universe is at 5am. You know because the moon is still up and so we have to look at it and discuss it. At least I could do that with my eyes closed.

It’s not that my struggle is unique. We frequently get 8 hours of sleep straight from little man which is more than other ASD kids I know. However it is unique in effecting me in this household. Little A is wide awake now. His behaviour may suffer when he sleeps less but he doesn’t. He just feels awake. His dad goes back to sleep like a dream although will be up in a few hours for work. Just me who doesn’t like waking early and who doesn’t get to go back to sleep.

Maybe if I change my clock to the old time? Been woken before 5am might feel slightly better.

Here’s a buzzfeed post so you can yawn in solidarity YAWN

He’ll sleep well tonight

bouncingHands up who has heard this this week? My guess is that anyone whose taken their child to a party this weekend will have heard a variation on the theme “He’s worn himself out for you at least”.

Some kindly relative will say this as you watch twenty five-year-olds bounce up and down 500 times, no doubt throwing themselves into the path of a few other little bodies. Everyone watches on with a sort of wistful desire for that amount of energy and ability to rebound. You sip on Nescafe, just trying to get through the joyous noise without a headache and a little part of you knows they should nap after such exertions. But, if like me, you have a child with sensory processing issues you can see it will never be as easy as that.

Sure, all parents see their children get overtired, high on sugar (although apparently that’s scientifically impossible, hmm) or generally so “hyped” with excitement they get a poor night’s sleep. When they do go off to sleep they will be zonked out however there will be a knock on effect for most children who don’t have problems processing their day. I have even heard of children having lie-ins after exciting days (what is this lie-in you speak of?) However there are a unique and complicated set of circumstances that means that my child and other children with sensory processing issues may not sleep any better in fact will probably sleep worse after partying too hard.

– During the party he is in sensory seeker heaven. If you don’t really know where your body is in space throwing yourself down on soft play surfaces is very exciting and comforting. The technical explanation is he is getting lots of sensory input to his under-responsive proprioception system.   This amazing feeling makes him very alert but he can gorge on this meaning he needs to calm down his body. We have lots of methods to calm down now such as firm pressure with the peanut ball but it’s still can leave his little body far too alert to stop moving and go to sleep.

– Speaking of gorging, Little A enjoys stuffing his mouth and eating lots. Loads of kids overeat at parties but  whether it’s the sugar, lack of veggies or bowel sensitivity the results of eating too much can keep him awake.

– Emotional regulation is something I am just learning more about. If you are slow to process sensory input, processing what a feeling means is made far more complex. If you are not careful emotions around the excitement at birthday routines, anxiety about newness in an environment, anticipation for the good bits like cake can all go to over-whelming very quickly. A happy little boy can very soon switch.

– There is a lot to process in any setting (love this on NAS website sensory overload) and one of the main things I find that helps is telling the story of our day.

So no, he won’t sleep that well tonight but with a little work we will all be very happy that he has been able to join in the birthday fun.