Category Archives: autistic spectrum

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.

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Even fun can be tough

Some fun has to be cut short. I had used my Odeon points to buy tickets to Despicable Me 3. He was so excited but being in the cinema was just too overwhelming for him. 

Afterwards he could tell me It was “too dark” and he “didn’t like the screen”. I imagine it’s too bright. I struggled through lighting up his seat with my phone torch, letting him move back etc. Ultimately I called time. He had laughed for a short time at the car chase that is near the beginning and we had managed maybe 30 minutes. He’d shouted through a lot of that though. 

Not only did I take a very distressed little boy home, I also had to deal with various difficult behaviours on the way home. In the cafe he threw some wooden stirrers on the floor. Despite having him on reins, he can go on a rampage very quickly. 

I know well by now these little acts of rebellion are part of his need to reassert his control over his environment. His Demand Avoidance traits are often particularly on display when he has been anxious. 

I had to stop him today from ringing every doorbell we pass. Direct instructions are a red rag to a bull at these times so instead I tried to distract and give him things to look at on the road. Ironically the thing that worked today was he spotted the “Minions bus” (its advertising Despicable Me 3)
We are waiting to hear about the Autism screenings as we want to see Cars 3 and I’d like to see the end of the film!  

SENDBingo©

Source: SENDBingo©

 You’ve got to see this post from my kid loves broccoli. It’s all about filling out your bingo card with all those things people say to you, experts or otherwise when you’re a parent of a child with SEN. 

So on point. I bloody love it! I got Bingo already this week! You?

Knowing when to call time 

I was so proud of Little A’s Dad the other day. He took him to a birthday party but brought him home before disaster struck.

 I was worried because I couldn’t come too and recently we’ve both been there. We know the signs that things are going south currently that means overeating (sensory input helps him but also he’s a Cookie Monster). He will also tip drinks over (fun game but also enjoys the reaction) and may start pushing others (over excitement, rough housing gives him lots of sensory input). In the end after he’d tipped his second drink on the floor Dad brought him home. We had prepared the child’s mum that we may leave early and I am so happy that he got to be part of it. Really he only missed the cake and had managed most of the party!

 

Level crossings are dull, but so is Octonauts

*Disclaimer: chose Octonauts at random, don’t particularly have a feeling one way or another about this show.

My little man’s top five interests at the moment are:

1.       Level crossings

2.       Traffic Lights

3.       Fans

4.       Washing machines and tumble dryers

5.       Light switches

I would be hard pressed to rank these in order because he is becoming a little more flexible and his interest flits between these subjects. He doesn’t just like them, these are the constants of his waking moments. We spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos about these subjects. Guilt-wreaking hours of YouTube time which makes me feel terrible until I motivate him away to use the building blocks and realise we have to talk about these same videos. We may as well watch them.

He uses delayed echolalia a repetition that is common amongst people on the autistic spectrum. I love this video by Autistic Genius that explains it. For Little A it means he has the whole script of these lengthy videos down pat. We have seen a massive progression since May where he is using these scripts to engage with me more and constantly wants to “tell the story” of the video.  My job as his parent is to keep an eye on what he is watching and not look deathly bored when he wants to talk about it.

When I tell other people that my son “is a fan of fans” or “loves washing machines” they generally think it’s cute but also laugh nervously. It either seems precocious when he uses technical language (condenser dryers) or it seems like he must know a lot when sometimes he is only repeating. I mean it is different. I am dreading the Summer holidays as I can see it descending into hours of YouTube a day but I think special interests have their place. While I am working hard making the correct level crossing dinging sounds, I will just have to remind myself  it’s no duller than acting out Paw Patrol.

Has your child got an interest that you’ve got a bit bored of?

Squidge, splodge, squeeze!

Sometimes with sensory seekers you need to redirect hands that can get up to mischief. Well he’s 4 so maybe it’s just that he’s 4 but there’s been some undesirable behaviour recently. (I’m not going into detail because I want to respect his privacy)

Playtime needs to up its sensory game so here were yesterday’s ideas:

  1. No mess painting. Splodges of paint on paper inside a ziploc freezer bag. Squidging time!
  2. New slime. Yes I know you can make it but I bought some cool slime from Tiger. It took a bit of encouragement but he soon let me lay it on his hands and we were away. 
  3. Pouring and squeezing bottles. I poked some holes in a bottle lid (blue tack under the lid and be careful using the knife). I filled a bucket put in cups, a jug and plastic bottles on the table outside. It was a great success. I love messy play that you don’t have to clean up. He was cautious at first but was soon squeezing and spraying.  I could even see some bilateral skills which he is working on still. 

I’ve got some rainbow beads on order to make the water more colourful and a new Sensory Play Ideas Pinterest board here