autismmumsdads

Archive for the ‘Sensory’ Category

Hello Everyone.

I would just like to thank you all for supporting the guest bloggers whilst i was away. I will be resuming my written blogs some time this week so thank you for your patience.

In the meantime i have opened a new page on Facebook to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day – here is the link http://www.facebook.com/AutismMumsandDads¬†PLEASE ‘Like’ my page and help to raise more, much needed Awareness.

Feel free to share what you have done for World Autism Awareness Day below ūüôā

L x

Advertisements

I’ve¬†spoken about limited interests before and how much of an effect¬†it can have on your child and yourself, trying to keep up with a child who can’t¬†be occupied, is climbing furniture, running up and down the room, rocking back and forth, hand flapping….A child that just doesn’t¬†respond to you, doesn’t look when their name is called – it can be frustrating, exhausting and emotionally draining.

I used to spend each day wondering why A didn’t¬†want to play with toys, didn’t¬†want to play a game with me, didn’t¬†want to even look at me or have me anywhere near him at times – some days I’d¬†think he hated me, other days id wonder what i¬†was doing wrong or I’d¬†be so tired from chasing him around the house, moving things he wasnt allowed to touch and lifting him down from the furniture that I¬†didn’t have time to think.

When I¬†went on the National Autistic Society Early Birds Course – this was the first time I¬†realised I¬†wasnt alone. I was opening up about how hard I¬†was finding coping with A’s wandering & constant need for distraction and occupying, for once I¬†didn’t feel like a failure.

I learnt that children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders tend to prefer toys such as shape and colour matching, jigsaw puzzles and construction¬†materials. It’s also¬†a good thing to encourage physical activity, because it doesn’t¬†involve any need for imagination or understanding of language, its free-play, usually your child is in control and so its more enjoyable. It’s also been proven to help reduce problem behaviours through distraction and focus on an activity, also improving some key skills such as co-ordination.

Here is a list of toys and games that have proved popular with ASD Children

  • Bubbles – These can also help with the early stages of speech through making sounds: ‘Pop’ < “Can you pop the bubbles?” – Fun and learning at the same time.
  • Torches/Disco Balls¬†– A, is fascinated by lights, he gets really excited and is a great way of calming stressful situations.
  • Shape Sorters – A short but focused activity, also helps hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Jigsaws
  • Duplo, Lego.
  • Marble runs¬†– can be stimulating to watch
  • Trains
  • Drawing, colouring, paints, crafts.
  • Dvds¬†– great for distraction if you have a portable dvd and for occupying should you want a 5 minute break ūüôā

Books are also a great hit with lots of children –

  • Board books are great to buy as less likely to be damaged.
  • Books with flaps keep a child’s attention and build anticipation.
  • Books made of fabric and different textures can be great for sensory needs.

Toys for outdoors and physical activity

  • Trampoline – in my case great instead of buying a new sofa, also great to burn off excess energy and FUN!
  • Slide – Great for your little climbers, if they can’t climb the furniture, give them an alternative – we used to have a great big slide in our living room!
  • Swing – Great for children who like to rock.
  • Sandpit or water table – again great for sensory play

Computers and Computer games are fascinating to children with Autism and can be a great way of getting them focused on something.

Its important to set rules/boundaries from the beginning though.

  • ipad’s –¬†Although expensive they facilitate communication and aid in learning. The iPad, like other computers, is an effective tool for many on the autism spectrum. Its flexibility and portability offer some additional advantages, over laptops or PCs. The touch screen and layout make the iPad more accessible for children with coordination or learning difficulties; these children may find sliding and tapping easier than either typing or writing. Moreover, the iPad can be easily carried, and thus is helpful for calming and focusing children who are on the go – would really help in stressful situations as a distraction tool such as going out to places.
  • Nintendo DS.

Software recommended for those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders are as follows

  • Character software
  • Factual software such as Microsoft’s Magic School Bus or the online encyclopedia Encarta
  • Software to develop vocabulary such as the Talking animated alphabet¬†(Sherston: www.sherston.com)
  • Software for young children such as Make it happen: jump ahead toddler (Knowledge Adventure)

I hope some of these suggestions can be helpful to others – tomorrow I’ll be blogging about people games to aid interaction and communication as well as sharing and taking turns.

If anyone has any other toy or software suggestions that their child has really enjoyed please share by commenting below.

L x

For todays blog post, i wanted to share with you a small video that was presented to me at my first session of the Early Birds course РRun by the National Autistic Society to help those who had a recently diagnosed pre-school child.

Its informative and for me, was very emotional to watch.

Made using real life drawings from people¬†with Autism, and using narration from those that are able to express their memories and feelings, this short film was produced as part of Channel 4’s¬†Autism Awareness¬†campaign back¬†in 1992 – so it is an old bit of footage but definitely worth the watch if you are touched by Autism or would like to gain more understanding.

It is 11 minutes long but i ask kindly that you do take the time to watch it & continue in helping to raise Awareness of Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPR2H4Zd8bI

Thank you.

As always please comment – if you want to.

L x

As with many parents reading this blog post I don’t think any of us can deny that we have spent hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on all sorts of different toys for our children.

Me & A’s Dad have done just that, & 99% of them are still brand new…

A has never shown much interest, if any in toys before, I really crave that moment when he can ask me for something inparticular, instead of me picking what I think he will like, wrapping it up and then with excitement watching him open it. He may look for a few seconds then its never touched again.

A, has no imagination.

Just stop for a moment to think what that’s like…
We all say to someone ‘Imagine doing……’ ‘Imagine having…….’
Without realising we imagine every day.
Its impossible for someone who can imagine to imagine not being able to imagine. (Very confusing)

The development of play in children who are Autistic is likely to be delayed due to the fact they lack in areas such as social imagination and flexibility of thought.

A is more likely to want to play with an object by chewing it or throwing it around rather than engaging in play with his peers, as its too over stimulating, resulting in most Autistic children prefering solitary play.

A used to line up toys, (and tins!) And instead of playing with toy cars he would be sat there spinning the wheels, this is because of his desire for sameness – predictability.

I’ve read that pretend play may be slow to develop or may develop in a repetitive way – one of the examples of this with A is how he ‘acts out’ certain scenes from his favourite cartoons or films just as they are happening.

Instead of playing doctors & nurses or cops and robbers, because he is Autistic he focuses more on the finer detail of things rather than the ‘bigger picture’ as that would be too much information for him to process & so he enjoys activities such as jigsaws, shapes, and matching & posting & loves numbers!

He really struggles with social play – its almost non-existent, he gets very frustrated when it comes to sharing and turn taking & this is something we have worked on for at least 12 months with little progress – I was told these skills need teaching sytematically and group games usually need adult support, which is where his 1-1 at nursery will encourage him. These skills, although important are very stressful due to lack of understanding and so they need very careful planning so that your child can keep relaxed.

A loves computer games (MARIO) and this is because its repetitive, he knows what will happen, there’s no surprises – but these often like with A become obsessions and even though sometimes its a relief for your child to have an interest its important such activities have rules & time limits should you feel they are too much.

A, like all Autistic children needs to be taught how to play rather than learning through play.

When he was put onto the Pathway in our area, which is the assessment route for Autism, he was assigned a Portage worker who came to our house each week and taught A to play, with bubbles, books, shape sorters, jigsaws, big space blankets and lots of other things – she found out over time what he enjoyed the most and helped us to enjoy games with A and to enable him to at least let us play alongside him or help him to complete a jigsaw.

She also set about starting A to learn how to share & take turns, he hated this at first & it often resulted in a meltdown but then the portage worker would sit with me and we would think of different strategies to help him – this was often by letting him take lead – he loves to be in control.

A would much rather we chased him or bounced him up & down or played rough and tumble – which is great for his sensory needs.

Its upsetting that we can’t play with him like we would other children of the same age group but as long as A is happy & enjoying doing his own thing as long as we encourage him to play with others and develop playing skills which will be great for his social interaction then we won’t go far wrong.

We’ve stopped buying toys we ‘think’ he’ll like, I used to think we hadn’t bought him enough if we hadn’t filled the whole living room.

Now we don’t spend hundreds at christmas & birthdays we just buy things we are CERTAIN he will love which is usually books, toys with lights or sound and of course Mario stuff.

As always please share your experiences with play and your childs favourite toys.

L x

I thought I would touch upon this subject following my toileting blog post a couple of weeks ago.

A is behind for his age when it comes to self care skills. He can’t dress himself and can only remove loose items of clothing. He can’t brush his own teeth properly – although he does try. He can’t wash himself etc and isn’t toilet trained, all essential life skills.

I’ve tried really hard to potty train A, and if you look at my previous post ‘A poop on the potty’ you will see I put a lot of effort into designing a reward scheme and a visual strip to give A some sort of understanding of what’s expected of him.
We tried to potty train him around 6 months previous to this time and he did wee & poo on the potty but he wasn’t aware he was doing so, I would praise him and probably from someone looking in, I looked like a mad woman – but I was just trying anything for it to ‘click’ in A’s head that he had done something on the potty – even took him to the toilet to empty the contents out – he just wasn’t interested, showed no awareness and so I gave up.

I’ve been determined to give potty training a really good go, mainly because he starts school in September & although I know its not a neccessity that he is toilet trained – I wanted to say ‘we’ve tried and……..’

So I had everything set up & needless to say, no success – then he was ill. The potty has remained in the living room so have the charts and I think he’s sat on it once in 3 weeks. To say I was disappointed was an understatement, I was upset and at one point I did think why do I bother?

Then I began doing a little more research and found that…..

Independent toileting skills take time to develop in all young children, yes some are quicker than others but its all depends on your child being physically & mentally mature enough to be aware of their bodily functions – to be able to control the feeling of needing the toilet, then to be able to indicate their need.

I broke it up into small steps

You have the urge for the toilet

Then you have to make your way to the toilet – or in a childs case tell someone you need the toilet.

Pull your pants down

Sit on the toilet – then release

When you think of it like this – its not easy, all this time you have to be in firm control of your body as to not have any accidents.

For most children with Autism, toileting skills usually do take longer to develop than those of the same age group.
The reasons for this are numerous and may result in resistance to changes involved in moving from nappies to using a potty/toilet,

Some children are even known to only use their familiar home toilet and refuse to use any other. Over – sensitive children may be overwhelmed by the smell, and a childs anxieties of letting go could also lead to a refusal in using the toilet, Or holding it in all day until a nappy has been put back on.

Again its all about being a detective:

Watching your child to see when the toilet is most likely to needed then taking them to the toilet regularly. I logged it down in a notepad.

Changing nappies in the toilet so that your child can become more familiar with the environment.

Its useful to remember that it may be easier for a child to make just the one change – Nappy to toilet instead of introducing the potty 1st – making it two changes.

Use visual cues – show them what is expected of them – just like the strip I created for A.

Ignore mistakes and accidents and praising even the smallest of achievements.

Distract them whilst on the toilet by letting them play with a particular toy. This will help your child to relax the muscles involved in letting go.

I hope some of those tips can help someone and that overall the post is raising yet more awareness to the difficulties our children face.

And remember – Your child will use the potty – become toilet trained – when they are ready – so don’t worry (like I did)

I do have some very useful links for symbols if anyone would like those, please ask ūüôā

As always comments greatly appreciated.

L x

I was fortunate enough to go on the National Autistic Society Early Bird Programme – which is a programme designed for parents of pre-school children at that time recently diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

It was a valuable course, where i learnt¬† alot about Autism and why certain behaviours occur. Over the next few blog posts i’d like to share some of these with you.

We all some way or another thrive off habit and the need for our daily routines. They help us to stay calm and in control in times of stress.

A, has quite a few repetitive behaviours, which before i did the early birds course i never recognised them of being these types of behaviour. A, flits an awful lot, up and down the room, he spins (on occassion) used to line up objects obsessively, hand flapped and rocks his body – where these behaviours can seem odd to most people they are actually his way of coping with stressful situations, situations that we may not of visually seen a trigger for¬†but for A, who has alot of sensory issues – they are situations that can be caused by the ‘smallest’ of things. I learnt that these behaviours occur because he is trying to keep things the same, predictable!

One repetitive behaviour of A’s is to jump up and down whenever he is watching tv, usually on the sofa! I used to think this is because he was excited, and why it may well be, it could also be a repetitive behaviour. A, used to climb obsessively, to the point i was ripping my hair out at the end of the day, he would be on top of the sofa stood up or climbing the fire guard, most usually the windowsill – especially in his bedroom – naked for everyone to see! Luckily enough he grew out of this¬†and its not that often he does it. One way of combatting the jumping up and down will be for us to get a trampoline, either that or a new sofa – people often say ‘Just tell him to stop jumping’ Oh right ok, but its not that easy, you try not itching an itch – its impossible, you have to do it – its exactly the same with A.

A, is also a chewer! He chews anything and everything he can get his hands on, most noteably his clothes. I have picture of t-shirts ive taken off him which look like theyve just been in the washer – used to drive me mad. He¬†eats paper and would chew on¬†anything from plastic pringle lids to dirty socks! You get your most sensory integration from your jaw and that is what A, is always searching for, he doesnt care what it takes –¬†its hard to think of alternatives sometimes but in this case we use soft toy animals – safe and chewable…Also chewy tubes… http://chewytubes.com/

All of these behaviours as i mentioned before can look ‘odd’ to another person or they’re usually thinking ‘I’d never let my child do that’ Its not a case of it being odd or that i LET him do these things. If im honest, no i dont want A to have to do these things to keep him calm and to avoid change but he has to – all we can do is provide safe alternatives and make people looking in more aware of the situation..

Ive had so many funny looks when A, is chewing on his clothes especially when they are wet through, i’ve had funny looks when A, is excited and he bites his fist or shakes his body rigidly – ive also had people laughing. And i think how dare you laugh at my child or judge my child without knowing his story.

This is why Autism Awareness is so important to me and this is why i write these blogs.

It may not be so obvious to us but people like my A with sensory dysfunctions, that are acting out these behaviours, arent in any discomfort or upset they are actually most likely having pleasurable experiences.

As always please comment if you have any of your own stories to share.

*Following the publishing of this post a friend of mine from Twitter, who is a Psychologist has recommended these books about Sensory Dysfunction – ‘The out of sync child’ By Carol Stock Kranowicz & ‘Sensational Kids’ By Lucy Jane Miller*

Any other recommendations of any kind are greatly appreciated ūüôā

L x

Restriction and regression related to food is very common in those with Autism.

Heres my experience with A.

A, was given formula milk from the moment he was born, never really had any problems & the late night/early morning feeds where made easier as he enjoyed the milk at room temperature.

He was very content and this meant we only started to give him solids when he was 6 months old. It was a slow process finding foods A liked, or more so foods he would eat and not sick back up as soon as he swallowed – we found one, which was Mash, he ate it nearly every day – it differs as to whether he will even touch it now.

Hes been through lots of different phase, of loving certain foods, to clamping his mouth shut when we’ve offered them to him.

Ive spent hours and hours cooking loads of different foods just to have them thrown on the floor or left completely untouched – i used to get so upset thinking he was going hungry or just through sheer frustration that he wouldnt try anything new. He would gag on foods i tried him with once i managed to get it into his mouth.

He can now feed himself and prefers finger foods. I still every now and again if hes in a good mood try him with something new Рneedless to say he never entertains it! At home he struggles to use a spoon, preferring to scoop his food onto his tray with the spoon then picking it up with his fingers, whereas at nursery he is supposedly very good with a spoon. This is another topic we could go into, Generalising skills. Something a child does at home and be very good at may be something they wont even attempt elsewhere.

There have been many foods ive been told hes tried at nursery, from being told this ive gone straight to the supermarket and bought the same food and he hasnt touched it, for A, if it doesnt look the same he wont eat it, it has to be on the same plate, same table, in same place or for A, it isnt the same.

He enjoys his food cold, and will gag on warmer foods, or even foods that are most familiar with him. Ive come to realise its quite sensory related,

Chemical receptors in the tongue tell us about different tastes – sweet, sour, spicy and so on. People with an ASD may experience the following differences.

Hypo-Sensitive

  • Likes very spicy/hot foods.
  • Eat everything – such as mud, grass, Play-dough. This is known as Pica.

Hyper-Sensitive

  • Finds some flavours and foods too strong and overpowering because of very sensitive taste buds. – So have a very restricted diet.
  • Certain textures cause discomfort; some children will only eat smooth foods like mashed potatoes or ice-cream.

A, comes under both of these: he will eat everything, paper, couch stuffing, plastic, blu-tack, mud, sand, toys! & He has a very restricted diet which contains about 5 foods.

Diets and ASD children are very frustrating and hard work. I just let A eat what i know he will eat, even if it is near enough the same meal everyday – suppose i just dont want him to go hungry.

I would love you all reading this to share your experiences so people can see the differences/similarites in Autism & diets.

L x


%d bloggers like this: