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How Do I Find Help For My Child With Autism?

I remember when Grace was diagnosed with Autism we were put on the path of finding what therapy she needed.  For me I was slightly aware from my experience with autism spectrum disorder.  However, there was numerous nights where I sat crying to Steve about how hard it was not knowing if we were really doing the right thing.  But it wasn’t until I walked into Keilor Park Preschool, where the lovely teachers who were well trained in special needs realised we were struggling with it all, helped me link properly into services.

Amaze Victoria has a wonderful website which is essential for families to look at to help navigate the different types of therapy on TherapyConnect.  I really recommend families with children on the autism spectrum disorder to have a look.

 

Helpful Strategies for Children with Anxiety at Home.

I have numerous people email me for some helpful strategies for children with anxiety at home, so I thought I would share some helpful tips for everyone.  I am not giving out a lot of tips all at once as that can be quite overwhelming for parents to see what works and what does not work at home.  So I will put up numerous posts that you can follow.

Anxious children like to have a sense of control in their lives.  They prefer like to be predictable, know what is expected of them and know what the consequences are for inappropriate behaviour.

Some helpful strategies are:

Setting limits which can be a massive challenge for parents especially as children grow older.  If limits are repeated and enforced, they help everyone feel more secure and, usually, a child or teen’s behaviour will improve. It can be a relief to have adults in charge!

Routines also help to reduce anxiety. But anxiety tends to disrupt routines. You need to work hard to build family routines so life is more predictable for your child. Help your child adjust to new family routines by preparing him or her in advance. Ask your child to help plan the new routine, and introduce it gradually. Making an attractive schedule for the fridge provides a sense of control and order.

Bedtime routines! A bedtime routine involves doing the same things, in the same order, at the same time, just before going to bed. This ritual helps your child gradually relax and wind down. For both your child and the rest of the family, a routine that lasts about 15 to 30 minutes is best. However, stimulating activities should start to wind down about an hour before bed (e.g. turning computer games off).

You can also include into your routine

  • warm milk or a small snack
  • a warm bath
  • read or tell a story

For older children set out times:

  • some one on one time to talk about their day.  Building a relationship with your child so that they know they can come and talk to you without you passing on your opinion, judgement is essential for children with anxiety.  You can ask them simply questions to help them come up with the answers to their problems is important.
  • Have soft music playing in the house can be quite calming when you do not have any TV on
  • Reading books, magazine together can give a child the chance to relax
  • Practicing some relaxation techniques.

For both young and older children, you can use weighted blankets which is about 10% of their body weight.  They can put them on and it helps calm down their sensory systems.  Drinking milkshakes through straws can help calm down the nervous system.  The girls come home and have a milk shake and I do see an improvement in their moods.  The straws with curves are even better for further sucking.  We have a swinging chair in our lounge room and Grace likes to jump in their and read a book.  Emma on the other hand likes to hide so we have numerous places she can retreat to.

If you have any questions about this topic feel free to ask them in the below box. If you have any suggestions which can be added please feel free to add them below or through the facebook comment box so that we can come up with an extensive list of strategies to help children with anxiety at home.

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It’s Hard Watching My Child With Anxiety!

Grace lines

To watch my child with anxiety is heart breaking.  As a person who suffers from high anxiety it is hard enough for me to deal with on a bad day.  The feeling that I have to flee from somewhere.  The tightness in my chest and upper body.  The feeling like I need to go to the toilet desperately.  The feeling that self harming is a way to escape the pain and turmoil within me.

The look of panic when I ask her something.  The need for her to line up her toys in lines. The above line has been moved and now three rows deep.  We got to the stage where there would be so many lines there was no floor space and watch out if you moved anything by a millimetre.  The clinging onto me when we enter the school gates.  Plus we can not forget the emotional volcano that erupts when we get home.  But that is only one part of the autism spectrum.

Strategies to help your child with anxiety:

  • We give Grace a chew necklace to give her something to chew on.  It is also a great visual tool for the teachers to know where her anxiety is at with the rate she is chewing it.
  • Listen to your child.  We do not need to have all the answers as sometimes it helps with listening and a cuddle.
  • Normalize what your child is feeling.  I find Grace understands more when I explain how I feel when I am feeling anxious.
  • Model ways to relax and let the child discover what works for them.  Grace tends to ask for breaks where she tunes out to her environment.  Sometimes she likes to do jump and crash type activities.  Grace also uses re
  • Avoid giving your child excessive reassurance but encourage your child your child to use their coping strategies.

If you would like help with creating a wonderful relationship with your child and you helping your child with anxiety is a goal for you please have a look at the two links below so that I can help you.

http://coachingforlifetimechange.com.au/surviving-to-thriving-for-mums-with-special-needs-children/

http://coachingforlifetimechange.com.au/services/

 

How to Help a Child with Autism During the Christmas Period

Amaze (Autism Victoria) in their monthly magazine The Spectrum Volume 9, Number 4, Summer Edition 2013-14, they have written a wonder article about how to reduce the anxiety and stress for ASD children.

Strategies that they have suggested are:

  • Talk about the holiday period and what that means for your child and family.
  • Minimise change as children are finishing schools for the year and will be heading into longer holidays.
  • Continue to continue to use positive behavioural strategies.
  • Make a visual calendar/timetable for them to follow.
  • Talk about any changes.
  • Keep routine as much as possible
  • Create photos albums of people who they will see at functions.

These could be some really important for children with autism.

How a Mums and Dads Feel During a Child’s Meltdown

screaming childWhen talking to any parent after a child who has had a tantrum in public a common comment that is said is that “people look like they have not seen a screaming child before.”   As a mum with autism, I have had numerous “well meaning” people say to me that my child needs a smack.  Mind you I do get a kick out of asking the person if I could smack them first.  Plus do not even get me started on people do not have any children who want to add in their 5c into the issue.  I like to ask them what do you know?

Usually after their opinion, I then inform them of the situation and they usually walk away with their tails in their legs.  You see a child screaming and in your head naturally you think you know the situation but usually you don’t.

Do you know how the mum and dad are feeling?  I remember a recent situation where Grace was having one of her meltdowns (emotional eruptions) whilst on a bike ride around the Maribyrnong River.  She was beyond being able to calm down quickly and all we could really do was wait it out until there was some change.  We spent the time telling her it was ok. But my goodness the looks that we received were incredible and even with some rubber neckers.

As a mum, I felt like a failure.  I could not provide her comfort when she needed it.  I felt like I had a good understanding of what she needed in these cases and usually it is a hug but on this day it all went out the window.  I felt embarrassed, I felt angry but mostly that I was all alone.

No one gave us any encouragement, not even a smile or any acknowledgement that they knew how I felt.  Instead of making mums and dads in this situation feel all alone, a kind word of acknowledgement or even help may make all the difference.  It is not easy for the child when they feel like this and mums and dads feel the same.  Understanding is what parents need not alienation.

So Proud of My Girl

Grace calisthenics awards I am so proud of my big girls Grace.  She simply amazes me on how far she has come.  After she was diagnosed with autism, we did wonder what the future will hold for her.  But my goodness with all the wonderful help we have received from therapists, her kindergarten teachers at Keilor Park Preschool and at Keilor Heights Primary school it has proven how essential it is to get all the help you can.

She started calisthenics at Kendara Calisthenics this year and to watch her grow has been amazing.  She is enthusiastic each week and really tries her best.  We had her final concert a week ago and she won the tinnies group annual award for all her hard work.

 

Steve and I realise that Grace will always try her best and she will always have such supportive people around her.  Even Emma was simply so excited for her big sister which is simply beautiful and I do hope that they will always be excited about each others achievements.

Unblock the Situations That is Stopping You From Creating A Thriving Family Relationship.

This video is to help you to unblock any situation that is blocking you from taking the steps to create a thriving family relationship. If you want to know more about how I can help you, look under the service page and provide me with your contact details so I can give you a call to see how you and your family can create thriving relationships no matter what your situation is. I learnt this process from Christian Mickelson.

Emotional Eruptions (Meltdowns)

I have to admit that I am not a massive fan of calling my children’s emotional eruptions as meltdowns because I guess people already a perceived perception of what entails.  But reality, is what happens is that their emotions goes to extreme levels and I always picture a volcano erupting with their emotions flowing over.

I have to admit that I do not enjoy them what so ever.  Grace has a massive set of lungs Ahh! and the last eruption went on for 1.5 hours and she was impossible to bring down.  Then if Emma joins in it definitely becomes a noisy house.  Sometimes I worry what the neighbours think is going on in my house.  Sad.

But I find that my stress levels increase as I feel like I have an inability to cope with them.  Then by the time Steve comes home I am stressed, cranky and wanting to escape.  It also puts Steve and I at odds and it is not that we disagree on how we handle the situations but Steve feels bad that he is working and I am simply just cranky mainly with myself.  I find it easier to simply talk to Steve about how I am feeling and Steve simply just listens,

The way we help the girls is that we sit with them.  Both tend to scream go away and lash out but I know that they want us close.  Children at all ages (especially when they are tantruming) need help in managing their emotions.  Most children do not understand their own emotions and get quite confused.  If a child can not put a label on the emotion and not understand them, they will not be able to control their emotions.  We see countless times the affect of adults loosing their own control of emotions but we do not allow children who do not understand those emotions.  We explain when they are quieter what they are feeling and they are slowly learning strategies to help them overcome these moments.

Relationships at Breaking Point for Families With Children with Special Needs

Special Needs Logo.2   In Monday 11th Melbourne Herald-Sun, there is a sad article about families who are at breaking apart point with children with special needs.  Children with special needs do get lots of assistance with early intervention before the age of 7.  However between the ages of 7-18 there is little support out there for this age group.  The situation is becoming just so bad that parents are being forced to the point where they have little choice but to give the child up into State care.

Reading this article bought tears to my eyes, to think the situation is coming to that.  Yes, the economy is tough at this moment and it is hard to fund all areas in desperate need.  Nevertheless, there is so much wasting of money especially within Government agencies, that this “wasted” money could be used to assist families who have children with special needs.  Maybe the politicians should really think before their next pay rise, could this money be spent in better areas to help families with special needs to remain a family unit?

We are blessed that we have two girls with high functioning autism, who therapy does cost a lot of money, but it is no where near as much as a family with a child who has a severe special need.

Here at Coaching for Lifetime Change we can assist you in creating a thriving family relationship and help mums not get to the stage where they have to choose to give their child up for State care.  Nevertheless, there needs to be more being done to improve resources within the community to also ease the burden these poor families are faced with.  If you want to know more about our services please click on the link http://coachingforlifetimechange.com.au/surviving-to-thriving-for-mums-with-special-needs-children/

No Parent is Perfect!

How many times have you thought to yourself ‘that parent is parent because…………..’  well let me share with you a little secret.

NO PARENT IS PERFECT!  ESPECIALLY NOT ME !

If only you could be a fly on the wall this morning, you would soon realise that even I am not perfect all the time.  Here in Victoria, Australia we are heading into 3rd term holidays and my eldest Grace is having a massive week with having her first school concert.

School concert 2014

Grace has managed to battled with routine changes and having an all day rehearsals yesterday and then having the school concert last night (I won’t mention that she does it all again tonight) so this has put her anxiety through the roof which is extremely challenging for a child with autism.  But she has done an amazing job and looked like she really enjoyed herself last night.

But of course this morning it was emotional overload for both girls and it was not pretty.  On one hand she wanted to stay home but in the next breath she didn’t want to be last for school so there was a lot of screaming between both her and Emma.  Half way through it all, I lost it (parents are allowed to be exhausted) I lost it and started yelling at them.  Believe me I felt like a horrible mum after it all.  So even I have my ups and downs as a parent and I am more than happy to share it with you so you do not feel that I am always perfect and will lecture families on being perfect because that is not reality.

Nevertheless, I did find a little strategy that could help improve their mood for a little while.  I used the brush and I pretended to be a happiness fairy.  I waved it over their heads and said I am sprinkling happiness dust on them and through lots of giggling the mood changed into a more relaxed and happy one.

All I can say is bring on the school holidays but believe me they can be just as challenging for children with autism.

 

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