Thursday, 5 March 2015

Social Stories to Explain Manners

When I was at the recent Cygnet course, I learned about the "Theory of Mind", or idea that autistic people have difficulty understanding that other people have different feelings to them. My son has made some progress in this regard, as he previously believed that everyone had to think and feel the same as him, whereas now he does at least understand that others may have an opposing point of view.

However, yesterday he went to town with his nan and she was meeting a friend for coffee. The lady had bought my son a little present; a sticker book. My son didn't like the look of the book and told the lady that he didn't want it because it was rubbish.

When we talked about it later, he simply couldn't understand what he had done wrong, or why his reaction may have upset the other person.

In the end, I used some of his toys to enact a social story. I used two of his favourite characters; Sonic and Tails. I did a good version and a bad version of the story:

Bad Version:

Sonic: I am going to surprise Tails by giving him a nice present. He is going to be so excited. I've saved up lots of my money to buy it for him. Here he comes now. Hi Tails.

Tails: Hi Sonic.

Sonic: I've got a surprise for you. I saved up my money and bought you this present. It took me ages to find the right gift for you. I hope you love it.

Tails: UGH! What a horrible present! What a pile of rubbish! I don't want it. Yuk Yuk!

Sonic: (crying) that was really mean Tails, I bought it especially for you.

Good Version:

(Tails thinks to himself: I don't really like it, but I don't want to upset my friend.)

Tails: Thank you very much for the gift Sonic. It was really kind of you to think of me. You are my best friend.

Sonic: Thanks Tails. You are my best friend too.

My son immediately got the point and we also rehearsed what he should say if someone gives him a gift he doesn't like. With autism, you have to practice this sort of thing over and over again to get the point across. Never presume that an autistic child knows how to react appropriately in social situations, even if it seems like something that would be obvious to us.

Friday, 30 January 2015

My Autism Pinterest Board

I created a Pinterest board about parenting autism, ADHD and OCD.

Please check it out. I hope you enjoy it and can relate to some of the quotes on there!

Sometimes humour is the best therapy.

New SEND Directory For Families With Special Needs

I just got this email:

New Online Service Gives Choice and Control to Families With Disabled Children

Do you want more information about the services and activities available to your child in your local area? Finding the right after-school club, personal assistant or childcare shouldn't be a full time job.

SENDirect, a brand new service, has been developed by nine leading disability charities (the SEND Consortium, including the Family Fund), in direct response to families who say finding vital local services for their child with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) is over-complicated, confusing and choice is severely limited.

The online service will allow parents to see what choices are available to them, how much things cost and what other people think of them, get information about their legal rights and speak directly to providers about adapting services to suit your exact needs and help create suitable new services where currently there are none.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Am I Dreaming?

Son: Oh, Oh, I think this might be a dream. Mom, is this real or is it a dream?

Me: It's real. You are not dreaming.

Son: I don't believe you. I had a dream the other night and you were in it and I asked you if it was a dream and you said no. And it was. I don't know if I can trust you now.

There really is no answer to that, is there......?

Cygnet Course Review

It's now been a couple of weeks since I finished the cygnet course for autism parenting.

Did I find it useful? Did it help?

Yes and no.

It hasn't been some "magic pill" that prevents meltdowns. I've still had plenty of cringeworthy moments and public meltdowns with my son over the past week or so.

However, it has helped me to understand and analyse his behaviour. Now, when a meltdown happens, I can pick it apart and try and work out what caused it in the hope of preventing future recurrences.

It's not a perfect system. Sometimes a scenario can hit you that you weren't expecting and you are left unprepared. But at the same time, now I know that there are a lot of things I can do to help keep my son comfortable and less likely to have a meltdown. I've learned distraction techniques and ways of helping him with his sensory overload.

I'm glad I did cygnet. I feel it is another layer of armour in my daily battle!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cygnet Course Continued: Understanding Behaviour

The next Cygnet session was all about understanding behaviour. We looked at what is acceptable and unacceptable in society and how the rules change for those on the autistic spectrum. The course refers to those with autism as having ASC, or Autistic spectrum condition, rather than the more popular ASD, with the D standing for "disorder."

We learned about what triggers certain behaviour and studied the iceberg principle, which states that the behaviour itself is only the tip and there is a lot going on underneath. We did some group games and activities, which were about how close you could comfortable get to people in different social circles (very funny/awkward!) and ordering certain behaviours in terms of how acceptable they are perceived to be. We also watched some videos of parents with autistic children and how they deal with certain behaviours.

The next session is going to be about tackling bad behaviour, so I definitely don't want to miss that, as I've had rather a tough week with the little man. He is becoming very difficult to take anywhere, as he is often rude and noisy to complete strangers. As tempting as it is to keep him at home, we have to keep working on these things with him in the hope that they eventually become easier.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Cygnet Course Continued: Sensory

This week at cygnet, we learned about sensory issues in autism. This is a big one for me, as most of my son's issues are sensory related. He hates strong smells and flavours and gets irritated by tight, scratchy clothing. He hates loud noises, like a baby crying, but of course makes plenty of noise himself!

A lot of the parents on the course we surprised how many autistic behaviours are linked to sensory processing problems. People can be either "seekers" or "avoiders" and the senses extend beyond the five main ones to also include vestibular (balance) and proprioception (body awareness). We watched videos and looked at quotes from those affected by these issues as well as looking at techniques that can minimise sensory overload, like distraction techniques or masking equipment like sunglasses, ear defenders, music players or perfume.

I found it very useful, especially as Occupational Therapy have refused to see my son because apparently "they don't take on kids with ASD." CAHMS have promised to intervene on my behalf, but until then, I can try out the techniques learned in the course.