Category Archives: Parenting

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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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

Mum’s night out 

The other half failed to get home in time for me attend yoga again tonight so I’ve had a little Mum’s night out…

Long walk to get the Fitbit steps up, listening to a true crime podcast (my second favourite way to relax after yoga). Tonight’s choice was Wrongful Conviction. Startling listening, really well done but the stories hit you hard. 

http://www.revolverpodcasts.com/shows/wrongful-conviction-with-jason-flom/

This particular outing highlight was trip to cinema where I got an email address to find out about autism-friendly performances and a trip to Tesco to get some bin bags (and some chocolate I shouldn’t have eaten). 

Meanwhile I have been keeping up with autism forum posts and a WhatsApp group as I walked home. 

I don’t get to switch off from this job. Despite that, I do feel better for my evening out. How do you get your Mum-me time? 

Guilt #3458 Dentistry

 Tooth decay is apparently rife amongst young children in London. Friends’ children have had to have teeth out (maybe not always just because of decay). Chatting to a friend I realised I needed to try again. The one previous attempt failed – he didn’t open his mouth. 
Here’s how you strategise doing something new that he may not want to do

1) visual schedule 

2) what will happen social story 


3) repeat story several times and ask 1-2-1 to do the same at school

4) Hope for the bloody best!

Visuals really worked because he felt confident enough to let me push him through the transitions. Two buses! However on the way there were a lot of tears because 

  1. Mummy wouldn’t buy sweets
  2. There was a broken down bus
  3. We missed a bus (it’s London they’re regular)
  4. He had to choose to sit upstairs or downstairs 

Tantrums are pretty rare these days and his upset on the bus was bordering on meltdown. Lots of stroking and speaking to him soothingly. Given how well prepared he was this behaviour showed me that he wasn’t fully coping with the anxiety. He is very good at masking. 

Arriving at the dentist there were hardly any toys which he was annoyed about so he switched the lights and went through all the doors including walking in on somebody mid treatment. Often I forget that he used to do this all the time. He once walked into my neighbour’s house when she was having an at-home facial. Seeing him act like his two-year old self was a sign his anxiety was heightened. Of course he has to explore a new place. I brought out his favourite train and the Peppa and George at the Dentist book. 

Inside the room he was very happy with the big chair. He wasn’t having the small mirror near him and hit her hand away. She had an excellent manner and got him to smile at himself in the mirror so she could look. A clean bill of health! Phew!

Happy boy, happy Mummy