Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Oral sensory issues

Since J has been a baby he has been very sensory seeking requiring additional input to the world around him in order to cope. Even as a tiny baby he needed to cling onto my finger to sleep and as a 16 week old he was wriggling down out of a car seat until he was kneeling on the floor - totally unable to go anywhere else and enraged by his sudden  inability to go any further. At 5.5 months J began to crawl and I was very proud......... for about 40 mins until I realised what this sudden ability could do for J. Suddenly he could get anywhere and suddenly I had to be behind him every step of the way to generally keep J safe.
As J got older we began to notice other issues, high activity levels being one and constant drooling being another. J dribbled/drooled until he was well past 5, as he got older the amount of drool decreased but he still required several changes of T-Shirt each day for his pre-school years.
Now at age 7.9, J is still having sensory issues with his mouth, mouthing objects has become a real issue and J is mouthing many non-food items including Lego, bottle tops, paper towels, pencils, sweatshirt sleeves etc etc etc. Food is also an issue and J will eat non-stop given the opportunity, this is now impacting upon his weight which is increasing too fast for his height.
Some time ago I said to J that I had noticed that he was always chewing things such as Lego etc and I asked him why he did this,  J replied that it "felt nice" and I really thought no more of this beyond realising that it evidently gave him some sensory feedback.

Since starting in the Junior school though this sensory seeking has become an issue, J is chewing his pencil and paper towels and it is causing problems. His class teacher is worried because in addition to the pencil and paper towels J is also chewing the tiny lids from bottles of water and is concerned about him choking. I asked J if this was a problem in the Infant school too and he says it was which is interesting because I never heard about it. However, given the sensory issues he has had throughout life I am not surprised to hear this is the continuation of a problem rather than anything new.

So yesterday I ordered a chewy tube for J to use in school. There has been plenty of research into these and the consensus is that these "chewies" are beneficial for sensory seeking children in school as it helps calm them and so aids their concentration. I will report back to say if it does the same for J......

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Consequences.....Or "keeping J in the classroom"

A charming little habit exhibited by J in his less polite moments is to storm from the classroom in a huff when he does not want to do something or if an activity does not go the way he expects. This has been a problem from Reception year onwards. In the Infant school they tolerated this little habit, monitored it and found other ways to teach what they needed to. The Junior school however, is made of sterner stuff and J now has consequences for leaving the classroom. It is very simple - if J leaves the classroom in a huff he loses one minute of playtime. The knock on effect of this is that J is NOT first in the queue at the tuck shop for his pretzels. When you consider that J's other two passions in life are "being first" in any queue and "food" then I I think you have to agree that the Junior school have hit on a pretty effective strategy. The storms from the classroom are already reducing and it's only the third week of term. Now if only I can find a way to adapt this strategy at home..........

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Battle Hamsters.......

Last Christmas little girls everywhere went mad for Zhu Zhu Hamsters - sweet little chirping toy hamsters which could be fussed, dressed and groomed. They naturally has their own accessories and homes complete with hamster cars, houses and tracks. Even J was tempted and despite being a non gender bothered parent (J has a Baby Annabel doll - now sadly neglected) I declined to buy him one of these hamsters. I pointed out not unreasonably that he had his own real live hamster in thew shape of Dora and that these were girls toys. As J is at an age where you "don't play with girls toys" this seemed to settle the matter and we moved on with life.

Meanwhile somewhere in a no doubt luxurious board room, toy manufacturers were deep in discussion about the runaway success of their product. Zhu Zhu Hamsters were sold out everywhere and had been the "must have" toy of Christmas 2009. All around the country little girls were grooming and fussing over their toy hamsters and no doubt sorting out the track and play areas for their new "babies". Boys were opening whatever present they had and perhaps looking on with some envy at their sisters! Toy manufacturers were feeling a challenge........ "how" they thought "can we flog these hamsters to the boys out there"?

And then a bright spark realised that boys like battles, boys like armour, boys like crashes and action.


"BATTLE HAMSTERS of all colours  - green, brown, grey, mottled with symbols on their backs and a mean look in the eyes".

"But what can we call them"?

Zhu Zhu Hamsters as a name was out because of the connotation with girls toys and no little boy of a certain age would be seen dead with a toy which had such connections. And so they thought and thought and then thought some more before realising that battle hamsters would have a dead hard name denoting their  years of dedication to battle and so Kung Zhu Hamsters were born.

J has wanted one since seeing the first advert - he now has two who both have armour and J plays with them non-stop. I can see a busy Xmas approaching and mindful of last year will be getting in early to prepare for a Christmas and a 20th December birthday. I think the Battle Arena will be a must.......

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Snappy answers to annoying comments regarding autism.....

With full apologies and acknowlegement to the people I nicked this from and adapted.

If you're a parent with a child on the spectrum, you've probably responded to the same annoying remarks and questions a thousand times. Here's a handy list of responses that...you'll probably never use out loud (but are fun to imagine using)!

1. He can’t be autistic -- he can talk! (or make eye contact, smile, engage)
And yet, amazingly, he’s still autistic! Y’see, autism is a spectrum disorder, and that means …

2. Oh, he must be SO good at maths! (or science or music)
Actually, his great talent is in memorizing and reciting lines from Sponge Bob or anything else which helps him communicate his wants and needs or emotions.

3. All he needs is more discipline, and he’ll get the message. You need to be firmer with him.
Yup, it’s true -- if you give a child enough time outs, he’ll just stop being autistic. And if I speak French to you loudly enough, you’ll become fluent!

4. You poor thing, it must be so upsetting to have a child with a disability. (Thankfully nobody has ever said this to me about J)
Yes, it can be hard. And pity really helps me to get through the day and feel better about myself and my child. So…thanks so much!

5. Will he be able to go to college (or get married or hold down a job)?
Hm. Good question. By the way, has your daughter’s divorce been finalized yet? And I’m so sorry to hear that your son was recently laid off from his job…

6. I have a friend whose child was autistic, and she cured him!
Wow! So I guess she’s enjoying the millions she made after figuring out how to cure autism? I bet her second home is a yacht!

7. If he can’t behave properly, you shouldn’t BRING him shopping!
Wow -- that would be great. Should I fax you my grocery list, or send it by email? I’ll really enjoy the delivery service! (Actually I try my best to either shop online and get it all delivered or shop when J is at school)

8. We can’t include him in typical classes, it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids.
Hm, that’s an interesting perspective. So I guess you have a pretty big endowment to pay for all the law suits? That must be great!