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?

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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

Waiting is…

Headaches and strained necks. Not only does my son clamber into bed with me every morning (generally between 4 & 5) he also takes up a considerable amount of bed. If he is not jabbering away about washing machines (current favourite) he lays back, both arms behind his head like he is on a sun lounger. This leaves me cramped into half a foot for a couple of hours. 

Sometime soon we will learn what school place, let it be sooner not later. 

Worrying in the middle of the night is just one of the low points that I face as a mum. 

Doing it all wrong?

A kind friend wrote to me recently to praise me for all the work I do to help Little A. I had posted about helping him overcome his phobia of level crossings (which I will blog about separately) Clearly I was touched that she troubled to contact me and it did give me a boost for that day. 

Except the problem is that my social media output feels like a highly-curated version of real life. Except most of the time I feel like I’m doing a rubbish job. So when I post these things am I telling the truth?

Parents of children with special needs are excellent at celebrating small achievements. This is the main thing we do on our Autism Mums WhatsApp group aka the best support group ever.  We post almost daily “guess what he did today” and sometimes  I am so happy and proud I share his news with Facebook too. The thing is that if your child is developing at a different rate from other children (they all are of course but when they have a developmental delay it does seem more obvious) then small steps, they’re massive!

So where does this leave my mum guilt that I am “doing it all wrong”? It leaves it in this place of worry and fear that hits you in quiet moments.  What if he never puts his own shoes on and he gets bullied in PE? what if he is addicted to juice and loses his teeth? , what if I’m too permissive because I like him happy and he ends up in big trouble? (There is a downside to having a vivid imagination). 

In her message my friend said I should blog more about what I do to help other parents. I think I will take her advice not just to help others but also help myself. Sharing the highs and lows was where this blog started. But also sharing the triumphs alongside the trials may help too. 

Life with little boy isn’t a direct train, it’s definitely more of a rollercoaster. 

Overshare?

The most fantastic story just came to me via another mum at school. At the weekend a vulture swooped down towards her daughter who sat upon her shoulders. The woman ducked at the child came to no harm. She told me to ask who she might tell – she wants word twritero get out so people at the school are on high alert so I suggested the council or local paper. You’ve got to understand, we don’t get a lot of vultures in Surrey.

Now though I have discharged my duty of helping her with my suggestions, what can I do with this fantastical moment? I am tempted to make the vulture into a pet of a local wizard who guides my main character to her magical destiny. But really where do you draw the line at drawing directly from real life?