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 ๐Ÿคž. 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.๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽˆ๐ŸŽˆ

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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.

๐ŸŽˆโค๏ธ๐ŸŽˆ

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 . ๐ŸŽˆโค๏ธ

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โ€œHey Siri, call the policeโ€

How do you feel about our children and technology? I am unsure of when to allow my son to have a phone of his own, for example. A part of me thinks he should have one now, with my number set on speed dial in case of an emergency, and the other part of me thinks its too soon, to introduce him to the world of having a mobile. I am not sure if my son is able to distinguish , at this point, the difference between an emergency and a non emergency situation. I am confident he would ring me up just to say his balloon had a big dummy head, or ask how many yes schools there are until Jack comes for dinner.

I like the fact that my son has not yet discovered video games, and the internet (apart from you tube). I like the fact that he would still rather play in the garden or at the park with his football, than play a game on a mobile or have his own social media account. There are plenty of his friends his age that already have their own facebook account. I am not sure how I feel about that.

Its amazing how he knows how to use my mobile and the tablet, as if it is his own. He knows the password. I have to ask him if i can use my own phone, and if someone calls me when he is using it, he will just hang up on them. Sound familiar? At this point however, he is only interested in watching videos of balloons on you tube.Its actually suprising how many videos there are of people just blowing up balloons and letting them go again, and probably making quite a bit of money from it. I definately need to re evaluate my money making strategy.

Like many of you, I am unsure on what the boundaries should be with regards to screen time. Although I realise that too much is probably not a good idea, ironically, the tablet calms him down and offers me some respite. While I try to limit the amount of time he watches his tablet, I do enjoy the quiet time I get and I can’t pretend that I don,t.

Films seem to calm him down too. He will quite happily sit and watch a film from the beginning to the end. Ordinarily this would not seem such a big deal, but when dealing with a child on the spectrum, this is a big deal. As parents, we try anything to keep our children happy while also having as less stress as possible ourselves. I cannot open a bottle of Merlot at 10am, so a film on the tablet is a good substitute. The only problem I find is that we need to watch the same movie over and over again. He will become fixated with that film for a while then move onto something else. First it was Moanna, then Minions and at the moment it is a choice between Horrid Henry, Matilda or the Chipmunks. I am more familiar with Alvin, Simon and Theodore, than I am anything else. And as for the dialogue ! Well me and my son can recite nearly the whole dialogue for all those films. Its like living in Groundhog Day, every day. Its like living in Groundhog Day every day . Its like living in Groundhog Day every day . Sorry ….. I couldn’t resist.

Today we went to the cinema (as we quite often do) to see, The Secret Life of Pets 2. It was very good, I would recommend it. My son laughed so much. I love hearing his laugh, its the most beautiful sound. Anyway, before the film came on, there was an advert that used the characters of the film, I think it was an advert for Sky. When the advert had finished my son announced that the film had finished and it was time to go home. Its the shortest film I have ever been to. It made a few people smile. He often makes people smile with his comments.

Sometimes I worry that he offends people though. After the film we went to the toilet. My son used to be very scared of hand driers. This seems to be a little more under control now, however every so often it rears its ugly head and today was one of those occasions. Sat in the cubicle, a lady outside decided to use the hand drier. My son blocked his ears and then announced very loudly, when she had finished , “Mummy, I hate that lady, why is she using the hand drier, I hate her”. My apologies to anyone that he has offended or insulted over the years. She is not the first and she definately will not be the last.

Autistic children are extremely honest. Up until recently I had never had my eyelashes done. I have always prefered the more natural look. Anyway my friend runs an eye lash business. Emmy at BeautyxBegins. I would recommend her, she does a fantastic job with eye lash extensions. Have a look for her on Facebook and Instagram. Anyway back to the point, she did my eyelashes for me and well I fell in love with my new lashes immediately. Well , so did my boy, it would seem. A couple of weeks later, I decided to have them off to give my natural eyelashes a break. I think this is a myth however, as I dont think they damage your natural lashes at all, but anyway, I decided to have them off for a little while.

When my son saw me without my lashes he cried and said I looked like a teacher? Not sure what he meant but thats what he said. The next morning when I woke up he took one look at me and said “Mummy, I dont like you like that, change your face, you look scary”. I think I will need to get the lashes back on soon.

Siri and Google are so fed up of my son in our house. Google gets told โ€œPoo Pooโ€ followed by a lot of laughter. Poor Siri gets asked a lot of questions to which she does not know the answer. Yesterday , my son told Siri to call the police , which she did! Oh well at least he knows what to do in an emergency situation. Sorry police ๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™€๏ธ

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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