Awesome After School Activities for your child with Autism and how to access them.

When it comes to after school activities , its a bit of a mine field. I am aware of the vast array of choice there is however what I have not yet found , is what my boy would love to do , apart from blowing balloons of course .

We have dabbled in many things but not yet found one that has stuck , although Cubs does seem to be going quite well , fingers crossed 🀞. He became obsessed with Swimming for while and he does still enjoy this however getting him to actually learn how to swim is a mission. We are still not there yet. He mostly enjoys splashing the water with his hands and playing sharks with me.

In the following post I will share with you the activities that me and my Emir participate in and the benefits we get from them, maybe it will help you to decide what activity to get your child with Autism into. This post does contain affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through my post, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

CUBS.

Emir joined Cubs about 3 months ago and although we have missed a couple of sessions, on the whole he seems to be enjoying it and does look forward to going each week. Apart from the time they were working towards the Fire Safety Badge and they decided to ring the fire alarm, that just made him angry, and for weeks after he just kept asking me to reassure him that would not happen again.

Cubs runs once a week in our area. They usually start the session with some games and then they join their relevant sixes and sit in a line and wait for instructions from Akala. The fact that Emir sits in the same place each time and with the same group , appeals to his nature however I was concerned about him following instructions. So far he is doing well with this. When I try to give him instructions he usually just gets angry and tells me to ” go back to work mummy” , he thinks this is the way to break my heart. During cubs, they participate in activities that work towards various badges.

They usually spend 2 or 3 sessions on each badge. They have worked on their Fire Safety, Navigator, and DIY badges since Emir has joined. Emir has gained his DIY badge which I am very proud of. He does enjoy painting and getting messy.

They usually finish the session with handing out badges, investing new cubs, updating the pack on up coming events and saying a prayer and shouting the Cub Scout Promise. Since Emir has joined, we have participated in a night hike , in which we got drenched as it was pouring with rain, if there is a hike they will go in literally any weather ! Character building I believe . Emir didn’t particularly like getting wet or see the point in it, but he fixated on the promise of the hot chocolate back at base so that got him through.

Of course now he associates cubs with hot chocolate so we always have to finish the evening with one when we get home.

I was worried how Emir would fit in to cubs , however , I had absolutely nothing to worry about. They have made him feel so welcome and they make allowances for his condition, and although he still has to participate in all the activities and follow instructions, I think they are a little bit more lenient with him.

Every summer they hold a summer camp over a weekend, and although I don’t feel Emir is ready for this as he never leaves my side, it is a good thing and some children with Autism would be ok with a night away from mum and dad.

The cubs always try and involve the parents and they are happy to accept volunteers. If you are considering Cubs for your child with Autism, I would encourage you to join them. Emirs confidence has grown so much as he gets praise for his achievements and seeing the badges he is awarded, makes me so proud.

SWIMMING.

Now if your child with Autism is anything like my Emir, they will be complete water babies and just love splashing around in the water for hours upon end. If Emir sees water , thats it, he’s in. It could be freezing cold, we could be in the middle of the town centre, if he sees an opportunity to splash, he will take it. Off come his clothes and in he goes. I’m not sure he will be able to get away with that once he’s 18 !.

I went through a phase of taking him swimming most days when I was a member of my local gym, however now I have cancelled the membership we don’t go as often. In my area we have a scheme called Amaze and they issue all children with an Autism diagnosis, with a Compass Card. This entitles them to free or discounted entry to many attractions. One of the benefits of the Compass Card for us, is free entry for the both of us into the swimming pool at the local leisure centre. You should check your local area for a scheme like this. I try to take him once a week and I am currently trying to teach him to swim…..again.

Teaching Emir to swim has been quite difficult as he will not focus. All he wants to do is splash about, however what I have found is that if we use a swimming float, he will hold onto this and if I tell him to kick his legs really fast and he will move fast, he absolutely loves this as he gets to splash and make noise and at the same time he is actually swimming without being aware that he is. You can find swimming aids and floats pretty much anywhere but click the following link for the one we use.

When i first started taking Emir swimming as a toddler, to gain his confidence in the water we started using a body float like the one below. This was a fantastic aid for swimming. Please click on the link below for further information.

I have looked into swimming lessons but as yet I have not booked any. I’m trying to find a teacher that will accommodate my sons condition so I am researching this.

Most leisure centres have swimming sessions with floats and slides but depending on your child’s condition, they may not like these sessions. I am lucky as Emir does not mind busy places so he can cope however if your little one doesn’t like crowds this may be little more challenging. I would have a look and see if the local pool offers any Autism friendly swim sessions or maybe check out when the quiet periods are. I am not aware that my local leisure centre runs any Autism friendly swim sessions, I may suggest that they do, but I am aware that they have an on site sensory room.

CINEMA

My boy and I love going to the cinema. I am not sure if he can get into the cinema free with his Compass card, I need to investigate, but we do have Cineworld cards. You pay a monthly fee and can see unlimited films for free and receive a discount on food and drinks.

Again I know that my local cinema do offer Autism friendly screenings of some films. Emir is ok watching a normal 2D film but I once took him to see a 4DX film. Erm that was not my best idea. Every time water sprayed at him he screamed and got very angry. He still talks about it now ! He doesn’t forget anything.

I am sorry for all the people watching the film at the time, as each time water was sprayed on him he would shout obscenities out very loudly. It was nearly as entertaining as the film itself. We then worked out that you could turn off the water spray , thankfully.

At the moment Emir is working on 3 and 4 letter words but it is actually surprising how many swear words he knows . Have a read of my post about swearing if you want to have a bit of a giggle.

https://autismmoms.blog/2019/04/24/wheres-my-fing-bus/

The film he has loved the most so far has to be the Avengers films and The Secret Life of Pets 2. He laughed so much. I love his laugh. It’s the best sound in the whole world.

KARATE

Recently, Emir watched the new Karate Kid. The one with Will Smith’s son in. Well for weeks he’s been telling me “Jacket on, jacket off” and “Be strong mummy!” And making the arm movements along with it, so I thought I would see how he gets on with Karate.

It turns out that someone I work with runs a Karate Club so I took him for a taster session and he did seem to really like it. Again I was concerned about how he would fit in and again my mind was put at rest by the lovely people running the club who made him feel extremely welcome and gave him extra one on one attention.

One thing that has occurred to me is that there are many many activities for neurotypical children and as parents of children with additional needs I think we shy away from certain activities but we really shouldn’t as they will quite often accommodate our children and why shouldn’t our children join in too. Why ever not? . So don’t be afraid. Bite the bullet. You will hopefully be pleasantly surprised.

We have yet to book our second session, I believe he will get a month for free before committing to joining. I am following Emirs lead here. When he asks to go again, I will take him. He has mentioned it a few times so I think we may be onto a winner.

He does keep trying to karate chop me however and try his kick boxing on me while I am cooking the dinner, so I may have to think about setting some boundaries.

The way karate works is you work towards achieving a certain grading which is represented by the relevant coloured belt, with black belt being the highest. You follow commands in Japanese and learn the art of self defence. I think for Autistic children it could be beneficial as it encourages focus and discipline and getting into the many karate positions can help to relax the muscles.

Karate helps to develop and reinforce balance, focus, coordination and concentration. I think the repetitive movements associated with Karate, appeal to the nature of Autism and proprioception.

Proprioception is the awareness of the position and movement of the body and in Autism there can often be issues with proprioception, therefore Karate offers some level of assistance with this.

I would strongly recommend Karate as an activity for your child with Autism based on this alone. Just do lots of research and find a club that is willing to accommodate your child’s individual needs and bear in mind that it can be quite a costly hobby.

GARDENING

I have found that Emir does like to get his hands dirty and he loves to be outdoors so a couple of years ago I made him his own little garden to grow plants in and he did really enjoy that. He still loves watering and looking after plants, so I am thinking of making another little garden plot for him to maintain.

I made the garden by laying some stones down on a little patch by our front door and I bought some potted plants and layed them out on the stone patch. Emir then watered them daily and watched them grow. Unfortunately as plants do, some of them did die and the garden just seemed to come to a standstill once the winter set in but I do intend to build another one and I think this would be a lovely idea for your children with Autism too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money and you just need to designate a tiny patch of your garden to do this.

Choose colourful, cheerful nice smelling plants and buy a little watering can. You can get some really cute little garden accessories for your little ones. Little wellies, gloves and watering cans. We loved going to the local garden centre to buy our plants and accessories and Emir loved having the responsibility of looking after something and watching it grow bigger.

Click on the following link to have a look at the cutest little gardening starter kit.

It’s also a nice easy activity to do together. It is something for you to talk about and get excited about together and with my son I found his confidence grew and it gave him something else to focus on besides balloons.

HORSE RIDING

Now this is a particular passion of mine, I just cannot afford it. When I was younger I loved Horses and riding. I did shows and won rosettes and was actually quite good. But as with lots of things, it just sort of subsided. I have had a few opportunities to continue riding, as an adult, but , its just so expensive and time consuming.

So I decided one day to take Emir riding. Well I have to say this is NOT his thing. The horse was too big, too smelly and too unpredictable for his liking. He was actually ok until the horse decided to make a blowing noise with his nose and then that was it. Emir needed to get off. It was a shame actually because he was happy to sit on the horse while it was moving. But he will not entertain the idea of going again. All because the horse made a noise.

The thing with Emir is he is very very sensitive to noises and smells. This morning he got angry with me because he could smell the chicken sausage I was cooking him for breakfast.

Although not for my son, riding for children with Autism actually has a lot of excellent benefits. Going back to the topic of proprioception, riding a horse actually helps to stimulate the Sensory preceptors. Riding horses has been used for children with disabilities, as a therapy. Equine therapy helps children and adults with Autism to develop the core skills needed to function in society.

Lots of stables offer riding for the disabled programs and have facilities that cater for children and adults with additional needs, so it’s definitely something worth looking into. Check out the Riding for the Disabled Association Website at https://www.rda.org.uk/ for more information about your local stables.

CLIMBING

One of the little boys in Emirs class at school attends climbing lessons and is doing very well . For his recent birthday party they all went to the climbing place and had a go. This is done at our local leisure centre. Again I believe it can be quite expensive but it’s definitely worth having a look into. Emir loved it so much and keeps asking to go again.

Again I think this activity is excellent as it encourages , balance, focus and concentration. Anything physical such as climbing will help to work muscles and tire out our children and help with coordination.

For those parents that simply don’t have the money or the means to try those activities I would like to recommend a book which I myself have, with a range of activities that you can do at home together. I will write a post soon about the different at home activities to try, but in the meantime please have a look at the link below at my personal recommendation of a book of activities to try.

Alternatively if you find you want to stay at home and work on developing your child’s academic ability, you can make this a fun activity to do together by incorporating learning into play. There are of course lots of educational games out there for sale. Emir and I will often sit at home and work through work books together but I find his concentration will diminish very quickly and he cannot focus for a long period of time.

For this reason I find educational games more effective as he has fun but also learns at the same time. We like to build towers together and then knock them down but we will count blocks and name the colours, and play matching games. We also like to play card games where he has to spell out what he can see on the picture card and we also like games such as Jenga and he loves to build his marble run.

Are you worried about your child’s speech ? I have found some excellent resources to help with this.

Please click on the link to have a look at some more educational activities you can do together at home. These help specifically with language development and speech.

https://ef4196tkxwdufserwcubp1u997.hop.clickbank.net/

I hope you have found this post helpful and I hope it has given you some ideas of activities to do with your child. Please do not be put off , like I said most places will support a child with an diagnosis of Autism.

Thank you for reading, please comment, share, like or follow. Please subscribe to my blog for regular posts and updates. Lots of love from Us.🎈🎈🎈

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Autism and Aeroplanes.

“Gatwick is the airport for everyone. We aim to be the UK,s most accessible airport, putting the needs of every passenger first and giving everybody an equal opportunity to fly”.

Travel and Autism, are an interesting mix. Airports can be stressful for anybody, but imagine the noise and the unpredictability and how that could affect a passenger on the Autistic Spectrum. The following post is a guide to how to cope and why London Gatwick should be your London airport of choice. There are no affiliate links in this post. Please click on the link below for a guide for children and parents with autism on travelling through the airport and travel in general.

https://www.gatwickairport.com/globalassets/documents/passengers/prm/autismguidetogatwick.pdf?_ga=2.204295315.2028516030.1560429761-

Travelling at any time can be quite stressful and travelling with children and adults with hidden disabilities can be especially challenging.

    The difficulties faced by our passengers with Hidden Disabilities and additional needs could be the following:
    Sensory overload. The airport can be very noisy and a busy environment. This will be especially difficult for an individual with Sensory Processing Difficulties.
    The unpredictability of the airport environment and the unfamiliar surroundings.
    Needing extra time to process information and get documents and belongings ready.
    Difficulties in understanding and following verbal instructions.
    Difficulties in understanding and interpreting body language and gestures.
    Needing to have a travel companion with them at all times to assist them.

As a mother to an autistic child , the boy who loves balloons , of course , and an employee of Gatwick Airport , I would like to share with you my experiences of travel and make some recommendations. As already stated, there are no affiliate links in this article.

Having only ever flown from London Gatwick Airport , I cannot offer any advice on the other UK airports.

London Gatwick however has been working on their accessibility campaign and making the airport much more accessible for passengers with a range of hidden disabilities , including Autism.

As an employee of the airport I can quite categorically say that employees are now much more aware and capable of dealing with hidden disabilities, through training and regular accessibility days.

London Gatwick was the first UK airport to introduce the Hidden Disability Lanyard. Since its introduction, over 8,000 passengers have requested one when travelling through the airport. Following Gatwick’s lead, the Hidden Disability Lanyard has been rolled out across 13 other UK airports.

The hidden disability lanyard , shown above, can be collected from one of the special assistance receptions in the airport itself. When a passenger displays one of these lanyards , staff are aware they may have a hidden disability and will know how to deal with the situation and offer assistance.

Employees will not know what the disability is , for example Autism, ADHD or any other , but will simply know that they will need to offer extra help and show a little more empathy to the passenger. If you are planning a holiday soon and are intending to travel from London Gatwick, I would recommend getting one of these free lanyards.

The other day when I had finished my shift , I was in the lift when a little girl who must of been about 6 , travelling with her family asked me if I worked for the airport . “Yes ,”I said , “would you like to work for the airport?” I asked and her reply was “No , everyone at the airport is evil !” Well as sweet as she was , I can confirm that we are not in any way evil.

Accessibility days are held regularly at the airport and I have been lucky enough to be involved with the next one. This gives passengers the chance to visit the airport prior to their holiday and familiarise themselves and their children with the airport and the travelling process. This is so beneficial to children and adults with hidden disabilities to prepare them for their upcoming trip.

Myself and my son have attended one of these accessibility days. To be honest at the time he was still obsessed with buses so he didn’t show much interest apart from the fact that he got to see where mummy worked and that was very exciting for him.

When we looked at the X ray images on the X ray machine ( which the children get to do as part of the day) he got super super excited when he saw my bag go through and he saw his bus under X ray conditions. “Mummy look it’s my bus !” He shouted.

At the previous accessibility event, passengers had the chance to look inside an EasyJet aircraft. As an ex Cabin Crew member for the airline I can definitely say that EasyJet will be very helpful when it comes to travelling with a passenger with additional needs and Hidden Disabilities. Thanks to EasyJet passengers were able to experience boarding the aircraft and sitting in the interior of the aeroplane.

Virgin also opened its lounge up to the passengers and offered drinks and food. Airside tours were provided, giving the chance for passengers to see the new Sensory Room. The sensory room offers a relaxing, calming and fully interactive environment for passengers with sensory difficulties to visit before they fly.

There is also the chance to meet the firemen and see the fire engine. See the police and the trained security dogs. You will be able to ride on the assistance buggies also.

There will be the chance to check in for a flight and be issued with a boarding card, then you will get the opportunity to go through security screening and be searched , have your bags checked and see your belongings under X ray conditions.

Before you travel I would highly recommend attending one of the accessibility days . The next one is in November and details can be found on the London Gatwick Airport website.

The airport is also the first UK airport to open a sensory room. Situated in the north terminal this room is a place for passengers with hidden disabilities to go and calm themselves before a flight.

The sensory room itself is very impressive and we are currently in the process of organising a trip there for my little boys class, to go and spend an afternoon in the room, which I am very excited about.

If you are planning a trip from London Gatwick I would highly recommend you visit the sensory room prior to travel.

The sensory room has something for all the senses, including mirrors, lighting and soft play furniture. There are sensory activity centres and seating also. It offers a fully interactive experience for the passenger with sensory difficulties.

If you would like more information on the sensory room prior to your trip, just contact the airport and we will be more than happy to help you.

Whilst we do not yet offer airport tours prior to travel , we would like to encourage you to visit the airport prior to your travel, to make yourselves familiar with the airport layout and the check in process.

If you want any further information please contact us at HiddenDisability@gatwickairport.com

Gatwick Airport also has close connections to the National Autistic Society. The airport has been recognised by the charity as a leader in innovative solutions for passengers.

The National Autistic Society website is a great resource for anyone planning on travelling and offers excellent advice. Click on the following link to be directed to the website.

https://www.autism.org.uk/

Thank you for reading. If you have any more questions please e mail myself or message me or contact Gatwick Airport directly. Happy flying.

🎈❀️🎈

5 ideas to supercharge your Sensory Bag/Box.

A sensory bag is exactly as it says. A bag full of sensory items for your child with Autism. They are easily made up and do not have to be expensive. You can choose the items or toys that best match your child’s needs and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.

The bag can be a simple drawstring bag which is easy to carry. It’s useful to carry the bag around when you go out and if your child needs calming or an item to help soothe them , they are all to hand in their sensory bag.

Below I have comprised a list of products that I have in my sons sensory bag. There are a lot of excellent toys on the market for sensory stimulation and soothing, however these are the 5 I would personally recommend.

1. Egg Timers.

Before the Autism diagnosis, I did not know how useful an egg timer could prove to be. We often use these as countdown markers when my son is doing some homework. I will often use the 10 minute countdown and explain to him that once the timer has finished we can move onto another activity . It’s really hard to get him to focus on doing his workbooks so this is a great resource. Him being able to see how long he has to focus for and that after that he can choose something he enjoys, really helps his concentration.

When out and about an egg timer is a good tool for behaviour management. If having a meltdown the egg timer can be used as a visual time restraint. Let the meltdown run its course but once the egg timer has finished we will talk about what caused the meltdown . It sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. Like anything with a child on the spectrum, it’s all a bit trial and error.

My son and most children on the Spectrum like to know what’s happening next. An egg timer is an excellent time visual so he will be prepared to move onto another activity and he can anticipate when this is going to happen.

When monitoring screen time , egg timers are fantastic as a countdown timer . If your children are anything like my son , when I try to take the tablet away he will get very upset . Having a visual timer set so he knows how long he has left on the tablet , really helps.

Click on the link below for the egg timers we use.

2. Light Up Flashing Mini Spinner.

The next item on your list should be a light up spinning torch. Otherwise known as a light up flashing mini spinner. My son loves this. It’s very sensory and stimulating and actually calming at the same time.

When the torch is switched on it oscillates and vibrates. If you switch it on in a dark room it looks even more amazing. A must for any sensory space or sensory box.

The mini light up torch provides excellent visual stimulation for children and adults with autism and I would recommend this product hands down. Click on the following link for more product information and to place an order.

3.Fidget Spinner.

The next item in our sensory bag is the infamous Fidget Spinner. This toy was particularly popular last summer, however my son is not that interested in this. When he was a baby and even now he loves to spin, so I am not sure why this toy is not more interesting for him. The reason I am recommending it however is because it gives excellent sensory stimulation for people with Autism and is very popular. It’s also extremely therapeutic. I have had a go with it a few times myself and I actually love it.

Some retailers claim that the Fidget Spinner has health benefits associated with it, such as helping to combat stress, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Fidget Spinners are available in lots of different designs and colours but this one is my personal favourite. The spinner in the picture above was from ” The Works” and it does its job, however I have recently bought the following spinner for my son and I am very impressed with this one. Click on the link below for the spinner I am talking about.

4.Rubik’s Cube.

In his sensory bag my son has the above Rubik’s Cube. Its called a gear cube and its by Maomaoyu. It’s similar to the standard cube but it moves with more speed and is more tactile and sensory than the standard Rubik’s cube. For this reason we have one and my son loves it.

When he plays with it, he is more focused on the manipulation of it as opposed to matching the colours together.

The gear shift puzzle comes with an extra surprise. Not only can you twist and turn each individual layer of the puzzle but you can also twist each layer separately. With the gear shift puzzle, the adjacent layers don’t interlock, which makes it much more pliable. For this reason I think it is particularly good for individuals with autism.

Click on the link for more information and to order one.

5. Colourful Maracas.

If your child is anything like my son, they will like making noise and listening to or making music. My son is very musical, he will often sing along to the radio in the car. He memorises lyrics of songs like a computer and he will often request a particular song to be played in the car, by singing me the words. He cannot always tell me how he is feeling but he is very specific when it comes to music and which song he would like to listen to.

I think music is calming for him. When music is playing he will focus only on that. He also enjoys making a lot of noise and will often thrash out something resembling a tune on his keyboard. For this reason we have a small Maracas in his sensory bag, which we can take out and about with us.

Maracas come in lots of different colours and varieties and are pretty easy to find. I however prefer the classic style of maracas like the one shown above. They are colourful and fun and are a lovely addition to your sensory collection. Click on the link below to have a look at the range I would recommend.

There you have the 5 products I would recommend for a sensory bag. If you are looking for just one product that you can take out and about with you, I would like to refer you to Sensory Softies.

Have a look on the website https://www.sensorysofties.com/

“Shakes was created by therapists to provide affordable sensory input for individuals of all ages and abilities. They provide support for children living with Anxiety, ADD, Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism and more. They are lightly weighted, calming vibration, fidgets and fuzzies. They are not just toys they are therapeutic”.

Actually used by therapists, this is an all in one sensory toy, with weight, vibration, different textures and fidgets. Please check out the website for more information.

Thankyou for reading . Please comment, follow, share and spread the love . 🎈❀️

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Pets for autism.”Henry’s in fish heaven” “No he’s not mummy, he’s in the dustbin”

So emotional support animals are becoming more popular and you may be wondering what pet to get for your child. My son is a little scared of dogs , so a dog is not even an option yet. Although i’m not too sure who would be more scared of who, my son of the dog, or the dog of my son. He has been known to try and pull legs off dogs before. Don’t worry no animals were harmed. He seems to enjoy squashing bugs with his fingers too , i suspect all children go through this phase. My son however seems to enjoy it a little bit too much for my liking.  I think a pet could be quite a benefit to an autistic child, but I also undertand that sometimes autistic children struggle to realise that it is a living thing and not a play thing. If you manage to find the right pet however for your child, i believe it can have such a positive impact on them. It teaches them the resposibility of caring for something and teaches them a respect for living things and also it can provide a great comfort to them in times of stress. It has been known that autistic children have formed very strong attachments to their pet and this must be something positive , right ? I have done a bit of research and it seems dogs are a popular choice for children on the spectrum. I would love to hear your stories and comments on this so please do message me and share with me.

So we tried a rabbit for our first pet for my son. This started off quite well. He seemed to enjoy stroking him and playing with him, and he even let him hop about in his bedroom. It was lovely, for a while. Then , well, it was’nt. The problem we had was the rabbit decided he no longer wanted to be confined to a run (he was an indoor rabbit)and decided he would have the free run of the house. This did not please my son, who i suspect did not like the unpredictability of having a mad rabbit running around inside. Every time the rabbit hopped out of his enclosure, my son would have a meltdown and cry for me to put him back, which of course the rabbit was having none of and just kept hopping right back out. It was fun. When i asked my son why he didnt like the rabbit running around, he replied “because he chews everything” which in fairness , he did.  I remember one day, we were quite happily sat together watching television when Robbie (the rabbit) decided to join us on the sofa. Completely engaged in whatever it was we were watching, all of a sudden a big white rabbit comes flying past. He landed on on the rug and looked a little confused as to how he got there. Me and him both. I can only assume that my son gave him a little reminder to get off the sofa. So i made a tough decision to re home our beloved Robbie. He was adorable but unfortunately, my son did not really feel the same way.  I could have put Robbie in the garden but he was used to being indoors. He got rehomed with a lovely family who had a little girl and a conservatory for him to run around in.He got his happy ever after.

We briefly had a budgie. Charlie was his name. He was beautiful to look at , lovely blue and white colouring. I thought my son would be ok with a bird as it was confined to its cage most of the day and didnt bother my son in any way. How wrong was i !. The problem with Charlie was that he was, as budgies are, quite vocal and noisy. Well , my son did not like the chirping and would cover his ears shouting at Charlie to shut up every time he chirped. So he had to go too. He went to a lady that had an avery overlooking the sea apparently, and finished his days out there being as noisy as he liked.

Then there were the fish. We started with a tropical fish tank then it became a bit addictive and we then got another tank with goldfish . Anyway my son shows a bit of interest in these and will offer to feed them . The only problem is instead of a pinch of food, they get half the tub ! If your little one is a little rough handed with animals as my son is , I recommend fish as they are easy to care for ( apart from cleaning the tank) and they are soothing to look at . I even considered putting them in my sons sensory corner but I just had visions of him getting them out of the biorb and squashing them in the middle of the night . He does need supervision with animals . Anyway unfortunately one of the goldfish , Henry , died the other day . I decided to soften the blow for my son and approach it with sensitivity. “Henry is in fish heaven” I explained ” No he’s not mummy , he’s in the dustbin !” Was the reply ! Well that pissed all over my bonfire.

Don’t you just love the comments our little wonders come up with . My son makes me laugh on a daily basis and I wish I had written down all the funny things he says . Maybe I will start. I could write a book ! There’s a thought ?

Why not drop me a comment or message me and share with me your little ones anecdotes and funny things they have to say ? I would love to read them . My son invited his friend round for dinner the other day and his friend who is also on the spectrum and loves telling stories was explaining to me that he was a ninja pig warrior and he wanted to zap the pig with electricity, when I asked why he explained that it’s because he likes the smell of bacon ! I can see his logic. It did make me smile . I love to listen and see the world through their eyes . Apart from today when my son decided to say in his “loud” voice while we were travelling down the escalator that his whoopee cushion he had just inflated , ” looks like your boobies mummy !”And yes there was a man standing right behind us listening to the whole conversation.

Anyway back to the subject of animals and we have decided that our best choice of pet is the guinea pig . I would recommend these adorable creatures as a pet as they are so easy to care for and so loving and very vocal . My son loves the guinea pig . Our beloved Winston is the perfect pet for my boy , until he gets mistaken for a squishy !

Thankyou for reading and do please comment , or message and share your experiences with me .🎈

How to create a sensory space to be proud of, on a budget

As explained in my previous post, a sensory space or room is ideal to help soothe an autistic individual when they are having sensory overload. The calming noises, lights and textures can help to distract them from the stress they may experience from too much sensory stimulation.  You will often find sensory rooms in special schools and units and the airport I work at has just opened a sensory room to cater for passengers and children with autism and difficulties with sensory processing.  Spaces or rooms such as this offer a safe place for the individual to go to and calm themselves. These spaces can be as elaborate or as basic as you like and you don’t have to have lots of money to make one. I have been making a sensory space for my son and on this post I will be talking about how I did it , sharing photos with you and recommending products and telling you what products I used and where I bought them. You may decide to make a full sensory room such as in a bedroom or simply make a space within a room, which is what I have done for my son. You can use a corner of the room, half of the room or even make a space under a cabin bed. It can all be done on a tight budget. Shops such as BnM and the Pound Shop often supply a variety of sensory things at very low prices. With a little imagination you can have a space to be proud of. You may , as I have often done, find yourself retreating there for a bit of respite. Since making this space I think I have used it as much as my son.

The thing with autism is thats its diifcult to determine whether challenging and aggressive behaviour is due to the condition or just downright bad behaviour. I personally find it hard to know how to discipline my son. He is going through a phase at the moment of telling me to shut up a lot. I don’t know if he means it or if he is mimicking dialogue. Echolalia is the repetition of dialogue that the child has heard. It is often meaningless and is a sign the child is trying to communicate. This is one of the early signs of autism and used by professionals when making a diagnosis. I think this repetition of speech extends beyond the early years and continues into the later stages as I quite often catch my son repeating  dialogue to himself, that he has heard from the television or you tube. He is currently telling me “mummy stop being a pussy”. I suspect he doesnt actually know what this means as it is completely out of context,I am merely on my laptop typing this post. As a result I struggle to know how to approach this.

I have tried the normal strategies, believe me. We have tried the naughty step, but as a result of that, my son now threatens me with the naughty step if i do something to upset him! I can see his logic. If he has to go on the naughty step for doing something wrong, why shouldn’t I ? I remember one day, my son whacked me really hard with his bus. I cannot remember why. Anyway I decided to try the normal response of sending him to his room, but without a lock on his door, this proved pointless. He just kept coming back downstairs. So I decided to hold the door shut. Well that was it! He went mental. He was crying and shouting at me to “f### off “, the neighbour was outside trying to have a quiet fag, I can’t imagine what she was thinking. Then he decided to throw a bus at the wall and put a huge dent in it. Landlord if your reading this, its sorted now . Basically , by doing this , I gained nothing but a very distressed and angry child, and neighbour.  I believe that a neuro-typical child would realise that this is a direct consequence of unacceptable actions, but I honestly believe that children on the spectrum cannot always make this connection. I may be wrong , but this is my experience. I would love to hear your views and stories so please do comment on my post or message me . The purpose of my blog is to raise awareness and make a connection to other parents so we don’t feel alone. It is not about me preaching about what I think is the best solution, as I am no more qualified to answer this question than you are, so please do send me your opinions and lets talk about these issues. I for one do feel very alone when it comes to the subject of dealing with the aggresive and challenging behaviour. I want that to stop. I want us to help each other. A lot of behavioural issues could be sensory related.

Have a look at the following link to see how to deal with challenging behaviour and sensory issues. I found it extremely helpful with my son.  < https://07d0d2slw2p-lwfccgwf3-vn93.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=DONNAB1977

Anyway back to making a sensory space. The best thing to do is research online about ideas for a sensory space. Pintrest has some very good ideas. The first thing i bought was a bubble lamp from BnM . This is a plastic tube that has little plastic fish inside that float up and down the tube with the bubbles, when the lamp is switched on.  It also changes colour and is very pretty and soothing. The tube needs to be filled with distilled water which can be bought from Halfords or online. This prevents algae build up in the tube and once filled with water you won’t need to change the water for a long time. I think we have had the same water in the bubble tube for two years now.

The next item i bought was a sensory tunnel mirror. My son loves this. During the day it looks like an average mirror but in the evenings it transforms into a beautiful tunnel filled with LED lights. It changes colour initially but then settles on the red colour you can see in the picture above. The red is very striking and calming.  It looks like you are looking down into a tunnel. Its very effective. It was also a lot cheaper that i expected. Please click on the link below to have a look and order one if you think your sensory space would benefit from having one.

Click on the image for further information.

The next item on your sensory room list, should be a projector. This may sound daunting but they are so small but so effective and also very cheap if your following a budget. Sensory projectors work by projecting an array of colours and sounds often emulating the sea or animal sounds. They are colour changing and very therapeutic. I would definately recommend one for your sensory space. My son absolutely loves it. It comes with a remote control where you can change the colour combinations and adjust the volume. It can also be muted if you prefer. You can also choose between various themes such as the sound of the waves in the sea, or the sounds of animals in the rainforest. Its very relaxing and when the lights are switched off , the colours reflect on the bedroom ceiling and look like the motion of water. Its stunning. Click on the link below for more details and you can also order one from here .

Click on the image for further information .

Another important item should be a bean bag. It provides a comfortable seating area but is also quite sensory to touch. This can be customized with textured scatter cushions. They can be as small or large as you wish and they come in a variety of colours. The one I bought my son is very good quality and is waterproof so it can be used outdoors or indoors and it is very hard wearing. Click on the following link for more details on this product.

Click on the image for further information.

 

There are many other options when making a sensory space and lots of products on the market, but these are the three I would personally recommend as a start. In my next post I will be looking at and reviewing a variety of sensory toys. Please comment , follow or message me. Thankyou for reading.

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Sensory processing and fears β€œThe bird ate my chips!”

Autism comes hand in hand with difficulties in sensory processing. Autistic people often have difficulties in making sense of the world which can seem a very confusing place to them, together with sensory sensitivities. Because of these sensitivities they may act unusual in their behaviour for example be clumsy, rude, loud or defiant. They may be trying to cope with these sensory issues but not know the appropriate way to cope. To an autistic person, a loud noise or a bright light or even the label from their clothing or a particular texture of food, can cause a lot of distress for them. Difficulties in sensory processing can be broken down into two categories. Individuals that are hyposensitive and those that are hypersensitive. Hyposensitive individuals don’t receive enough information about the environment around them so they struggle to make sense of it. Their sense of the world and how they see , hear and feel , may be less sensitive than it is for a neurotypical person. On the other hand hypersensitive people may suffer extreme sensitivities to things like noise, and textures, or light, things that a neuro typical person might not necessarily even notice.

My son is what is known as a Sensory Seeker . He seeks input from sensory sources for comfort . Others may avoid sensory input for example they may hate to be touched or cuddled, my son however loves cuddles, the more the better. He will quite often sit and stroke my hair. He seems to need to do this in order to self soothe himself. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing , if he needs to stroke my hair , he will . It’s usually when I’m doing my make up , particularly when I’m trying to do my eyeliner with a steady hand , when he will decide he needs to stroke my hair . So I go from a “cats eye” look to a “I don’t give a crap ” look . He also finds it highly amusing to scratch his bottom and then stroke my hair .He knows I don’t like it and it makes him laugh. It has become a bit of game whereby if he does that I will chase him then tickle him . Then I spend the rest of the day smelling like shit , literally ,and looking like shit, but at least I know he’s happy .

The hair stroking is sometimes a problem as he does like to stroke random peoples hair too and other children’s hair. I have tried to explain to him that this is socially unacceptable but he doesn’t seem to understand. In this situation, social stories are a good resource. I have yet to try these on my son but I have heard they are great for situations such as this. If you google social stories I am sure you will find what you are looking for. These stories are designed to replicate possible real life situations and what is an expected and socially acceptable response to that situation.

He did go through a phase of being terrified of hand dryers. I mean , terrified ! He would put his hands over his ears and just scream. It got to the point where if I needed the toilet while we were out, I would have to tell him the hand dryer was broken. I would have to stake out the joint before entering, make sure no one else was in the toilets and if they dare attempt to use the hand dryer I would have to leg it out of the toilets very fast, before he lost it and had a total break down. He wasn’t so bad with the Dyson hand dryers that dry your hands in 10 seconds, I think they are less noisy, but the old fashioned ones with the silver nozzles on…..just No , we avoided them. He is getting better now and seems to cope better with the noise.

After the hand dryers, came a fear of seagulls. I can understand that though, they can be evil. I think it was the noises they make that he didn’t like but of course it hasn’t helped that he has had two episodes of being terrorised by them. One time sat on the beach, happily eating his sandwich, minding his own business. I spotted this very angry looking seagull edging his way towards us, I didn’t think anything of it, I just presumed he would fly away as soon as we moved, oh how wrong was I. My son must of looked away for a second and then boom, his sandwich was gone. My son was sat with his hand open, and no sandwich. He just looked at me and started screaming! . Now every time he sees a seagull he is terrified. Another time we were sat having some chips in a beer garden and the same thing happened. The little buggers swooped down and swiped his chips. He was a little older when this happened so was able to vocalise what had happened. “Mummy the bird took my chips!” followed by unstoppable crying. It was so sad. My poor boy. We had to leave pretty fast, not before I finished my beer though, which I very much needed by this point. I am not sure if the fear of seagulls is a sensory , I don’t like the noise they make , kind of thing, or a , they keep stealing my food, kind of thing, but he hates them nonetheless. Stealing food is not cool. We briefly , and I mean briefly, had a budgie. I could not cope with the constant chirping from the budgie followed by my son screaming, so the budgie had to go.

Another common trait among autistic children, maybe adults too, is how loud they seem to talk. My sons voice level , particularly when out and about, is at an all time high. I constantly have to remind him to use his little voice. Seriously, when we are browsing round a shop for example, the entire shop will know about how his balloon is massive and has a big “dummy head” (that’s a whole other post). I find it cute but I can imagine it must be difficult for other people who are out having a relaxing shopping trip and then having to be dealing with a very loud little boy talking about “blowing to pop” and “look at the size of that!”. He is so lovely. I love him more than anything and everything. In these situations it may help to have a visual of a sound scale and point to the quiet end. Visuals are very useful and can be downloaded from the internet. Again if you search for visuals, the internet is full of downloadable versions you can use with your child. Not all autistic people will benefit from visuals as each person is individual and unique in their needs, but they are certainly a popular choice of communication.

The need for sensory input has meant that my son loves anything that is tactile and squishy. He loves Squishies and Oonies and anything slimy and generally messy. I recommend Kinetic sand , this is excellent and if you can cope with the mess, play dough and magic snow. We got some magic snow from Winter Wonderland at Christmas but I think we were ripped off as I have since seen it a lot cheaper in the toy shops. He also has a fidget cube and a spinner too but surprisingly he does not seem interested in these. Unfortunately he seems to think his male anatomy is a Squishy too and I quite often have to witness him twist, contort and stretch it into many positions. I am surprised it hasn’t dropped off , seriously, I think he mistakes it for his Stretch Armstrong ! Poor thing

I am currently in the process of making a sensory space in my sons bedroom and my next post will be about this and a recommendation of sensory products. A sensory room is a room or a space filled with a selection of sensory items such as bean bags , lights , mirrors and projectors. It is designed to offer a soothing environment for an individual that is experiencing a sensory overload. This can be done on a budget by simply using the corner of a particular room, like I am doing. Look out for my next post on this. Thankyou for reading x 🎈