Category Archives: Parenting

I’m not a morning person…

But I am a night owl. Shame that doesn’t work with the parent thing, huh?

Sleep and parenting. Parenting and autism. How many conversations have we had around these topics. Nobody gets enough sleep. And if we try and talk about it the one-up-manship starts. And believe me I know that Little A’s solid seven hours every night is more than a lot of people get if their child is on the Spectrum. And if I didn’t know I’ve been told! But this isn’t a moan about that again just a comment that early mornings suck. But they particularly suck if you are me and a night owl.

Yesterday was a good day because I got enough sleep. It may have been accidental but Little A read his clock and didn’t come into our bed until 6 (that’s a lie-in btw). I also took an afternoon nap (sorry housework) because I have a week off from work and why not. I need to take care of myself right now.

The benefits of this sleep and home made food I had the energy to make was a productive evening of writing. When I say that I mean 3 hours writing, editing, feeling inspired. The sparks between the synapses were palpable. The energy I get from writing and being creative reminded me a little of myself. Think Oprah calls it being in your “flow”. It’s a magical force and something that needs to be, that must be and it felt good.

Reclaiming the night owl may take some effort. I’ve thought for a while I need a retreat to write or may be just the occasional night away. A more realistic step might be to ignore the sofa and television a few nights a week. Whatever it is I know that I need more of it in my life.


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?

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.


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?