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Beating the Effects of Bullying

Beating the effects of bullyingFor those who already have read recent posts, you would know that Grace has gone through four years of bullying.  We are always focused on ways of beating the effects of bullying for Grace.

Tonight she came to me crying about not wanting to go to school because she always is wondering what she will face tomorrow.  She has always had this type of thinking since Grade 1 and it can be challenging to keep her beating the effects of bullying on a daily basis.

For those who know Grace is 9.  I have tried this visualisation piece in the past but it has never helped.  However, I thought that I might give it another go as she is older and her imagination is always developing.

We had our forehead touching and I asked her to close her eyes.

I asked her to imagine that she has a balloon in her hand.

I asked her what colour it was and she said light pink, however she did change it later to a Katy Perry balloon.

I told her to blow the balloon up until it surrounded her (she groaned at thinking she had to blow the balloon up that big).

I said to her no matter what bad thing comes to you through mean words, pins to pop your balloon, they will never pop your balloon.  The only thing that can get through your Katy Perry balloon are kindness, love and happy thoughts and things (she made sure her teddy bear was able to get through).  No matter what bad things may come they just bounce off your balloon and it will never pop. 

At first she then was more interested in brushing her teeth as I broke the routine.  But by the time she reached her bed, she was thinking more about it as she asked is her balloon still around her when she was asleep.

A great vision piece for children when they are beating the effects of bullying.

 

The Key is Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour!

The Key is understanding your child's behaviour

 

The key is understanding your child’s behaviour!

So many parent’s say “I don’t know how to stop my child’s behaviours.”  They go on to explain their child’s behaviours in great detail.  However, the actual behaviour is not important.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviours. A lot of parent’s get stumped when I say this because they are simply focused about the behaviours.

To help parent’s to understand their child’s behaviours, I ask them to talk about an example for a particular challenging behaviour.  The parent then goes into detail of the behaviour the child displayed.  I then ask what happened before the behaviour occurred.  The common answer is “I do not know” or “it happened for no reason”.  I probe with more questions to narrow it down for instance was it a request that you gave them? Did you tell the child to do something?  Were they playing a game?  Was it a sensory issue? As the percentage of families have children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, it is extremely important to look at the sensory areas because some behaviours can be caused due to a sensory issue.  However even with families that do not have a child with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder, it is still important to look at the sensory areas because the child may have mild issues that they are unaware of.

The key is understanding your child’s behaviours from a cognitive sense.  If we look at a scenario of a child expressing challenging behaviour when receiving an instruction it is important to look at the whole picture from a cognitive angle.  The majority of behaviours are due to lacking of skills.  The major areas, which then are broken down into smaller steps, are flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.  If your child is having difficulties in these areas, it is important that behaviour strategies support your child to move through these challenges without the unwanted behaviours.

Conventional methods of behaviour management does not work for all children and just with that thought it can be extremely challenging.  I thoroughly enjoy working with families to assist with parent’s to help their children to reduce these behaviours as it will improve their families overall well being.

Your child can be successful but at this moment they do not have the skills to be successful.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviour.  If you want to know more check out my Challenging Behaviour Busting program.

 

 

What Do You Do When Times Are Tough?

What do you do what times are tough?

What do you do when times are tough?

When times are tough, it can be exhausting, deflating and most parent’s are at a loss of what to do.  However, by paying attention to the small moments that occur daily, it can help get you through the tough times.

Strategies that you could use to store these memories are:

  • Write down these moments in a journal.
  • Keep any work that your child brings home.
  • Stop for a moment when these small gestures occur and actually take notice how they make you feel.
  • Take photos and put them in a photo album.
  • Take part in activities that your child enjoys so you can create the special moments.
  • Do something with your child everyday even if it is only a small activity.
  • Appreciate how far your child has come.

 

What is Sensory Overload?

Sensory overload

 

 

 

 

 

What is Sensory Overload?

Sensory overload is when our body’s senses (taste, smell, sight, hearing, touch) experience over stimulation from our environment.  For an individual with sensory overload their nervous system is so overwhelmed that it can not process all the information that it is receiving.

What are the causes of sensory overload?

The causes of sensory overload can be numerous. For instance:

  • Hearing: Loud noise or sound from multiple sources, such as several people talking at once or a loud fire alarm.
  • Sight: Bright lights, strobing lights, or environments with lots of movement such as crowds or frequent scene changes on television.
  • Smell and taste: Strong aromas or spicy foods.
  • Touch: Tactile sensations such as being touched by another person or the feel of cloth on skin.

What are the symptoms of sensory overload?

  • Irritability
  • “Shuts down”, or refuses to participate in activities and/or interact with others
  • Avoids touching or being touched
  • Gets overexcited
  • Covers eyes around bright lights
  • Makes poor eye contact
  • Covers ears to close out sounds or voices
  • Complains about noises that do not affect others
  • Having difficulty focusing on an activity
  • Constantly changing activities, never completing a task
  • Irritation caused by shoes, socks, tags, or different textures
  • Over-sensitivity to touch, movement, sights, and/or sounds
  • Has trouble with social interactions
  • Extremely high or extremely low activity levels
  • Muscle tension
  • Fidgeting and restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sleeplessness/fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating

How can you help an individual with sensory overload?

Recognize the onset of overload. Overload can show up in different ways for different people. It may look like a panic attack, getting “hyper,” shutting down, or having a meltdown (which resembles a tantrum, but is not thrown on purpose).

  • During a relaxed time, ask yourself about the signs of sensory overload. What triggers it? What behavior do you (or your loved one) use when you start feeling overwhelmed? If you are a parent or caretaker, you can also ask a child who experiences sensory overload about triggers when he is relaxed.
  • Many autistic people use different “stims,” or repetitive motor mannerisms, when overloaded than at other times (such as rocking when happy and hand-flapping when overloaded). Think about if you have a stim that you only use for self-calming or coping with overload.
  • If you lose normal functioning abilities, such as speaking, this is often a sign of severe overload. Caretakers and parents may especially notice this with young children who are overloaded.

 

Reduce visual stimulation. A person experiencing visual overload may need to wear sunglasses indoors, refuse eye contact, turn away from people who are speaking, cover one’s eyes, and bump into people or things.[2] To help with visual stimulation, reduce the items that hang from the ceiling or walls. Keep small items put away in bins or boxes, and organize and label the bins.[3]

  • If lighting is overwhelming, use a lamp instead of fluorescent lighting. You can also use darker bulbs instead of bright bulbs. Use blackout curtains to minimize light.[4]
  • If indoor lights are overwhelming, using sunshades can be helpful.

Lower the noise level. Overstimulation of sound may include not being able to shut off background noises (such as someone having a conversation far away), which can influence concentration. Some noises can be perceived as excruciatingly loud and distracting. To help with noise overstimulation, shut any open doors or windows that may be allowing sound inside. Lower or turn off any music that may be distracting, or go somewhere more quiet.[6] Minimize verbal directions and/or conversations.

  • Having ear plugs, headphones, and white noise may come in handy when noises seem too overwhelming.[7]
  • If you are trying to communicate with someone experiencing audio sensory overload, ask yes or no questions instead of open-ended questions. These are easier to respond to, and can be answered with thumbs up/thumbs down.

Lessen tactile input. Tactile overload, which refers to the sensation of touch, can include being unable to handle to be touched or hugged. Many people with sensory processing issues are hypersensitive to touch, and being touched or thinking they are about to be touched can worsen the overload. Tactile sensitivity can include a sensitivity to clothing (preferring soft fabrics) or to touching certain textures or temperatures. Recognize what textures are pleasing and which ones are not. Make sure that any new clothing is sensory-friendly.[8]

  • If you are a caretaker or friend, listen when someone says touch hurts and/or pulls away. Acknowledge the pain and don’t continue touching the person.
  • When interacting with someone with tactile sensitivity, always alert him when you are about to touch him, and come from the front, never from behind.[9]
  • Refer to an occupational therapist for more sensory integration ideas.

Regulate smells. Some fragrances or stenches may be overwhelming, and unlike sight, you cannot shut your nose to disengage the sense. If smells are overwhelming, consider using unscented shampoos, detergents, and cleaning products.[10]

  • Remove as many unpleasant scents as possible from the environment. You could buy unscented products, or you may enjoy getting crafty and making your own unscented toothpaste, soaps, and detergent.

Challenging Children and Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance

Do you have a challenging child and frustration tolerance?

Behaviourally challenging children need us to take a close look at our beliefs about challenging behaviours and apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways in which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally challenging.

As an applied behaviour analyst therapist, we learnt that there is always a reason for their behaviour and that you had to understand what was the antecedent (the cause) of the behaviour.  Ross Greene also states that “behaviourally challenging children are challenging because they are lacking the skills to not be challenging” (Ross, G.  The Explosive Child).

One of the skills that challenging children lack is frustration tolerance.  Challenging behaviour occurs when the demands being placed upon a child outstrip the skills he/she has to respond to.

What is Frustration?

Frustration is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get frustrated, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and nor-adrenaline.

Frustration can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be frustrated at a specific person (such as a co-worker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your frustration could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger feelings of frustration.
The instinctive, natural way to express frustration is to respond aggressively. Frustration is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviours, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of frustration, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our frustration can take us.
Children and adults use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their feelings of frustration. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your feelings of frustration in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express frustration. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Frustration can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your frustration, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your frustration and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The frustration in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your frustration can turn inward—on yourself. Frustration turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed frustration can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of frustration, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. Children and adults who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their frustration. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
Frustration for individuals of all stages on the Spectrum and Sensory Processing Disorder can be triggered in so many different ways it is extremely important for parents’ to stop focusing on the actual behaviours and work out what the difficulties are so that they can solve the unsolved problems.   By doing this, not only will unsolved problems be solved but your child will increase their frustration tolerance level and the challenging behaviours will decrease.
Frustration tolerance can be improved with the following strategies:
  • relaxation
  • body regulation
  • deep breathing
  • visualizations
  • changing your thinking
  • problem solving
  • better communication
  • using humour
  • changing environments
  • body mapping

Do You Know Your Partner’s Dreams?

 

Dreams

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams are extremely important in marriages.  Do you know your partner’s dreams?

Realising your partner’s dreams should be one of your goals of marriage.

In happy marriages partners incorporate each other’s goals into their concept of what their marriage is about.  These goals can be as concrete as wanting to live in a certain kind of house or to get a certain academic degree.

There are dreams that are also hidden due to the lack of respect.  By respecting each other, it can help get out of conflicts.  But when do you know when a hidden dream is the core of an issue?  Simply by uncovering this dream can get the couple out of gridlock with respect.

A lot of dreams can be hidden or forgotten amongst families with children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder.  Plus it is the same for a lot of families.  They put all of their energies on the children and making sure that they are meeting all of their needs but forget their needs.

If these dreams are left hidden, feelings of resentment and loneliness. If these feelings are left to stew, relationships are going to struggle.

In Steve’s and I relationship, he has always followed his sporting dreams of Triathlons and surf ski sports.  His dreams have always been to have his family at the finish and that is where we always are.  Steve is supporting my dreams to help families with Autism.  Steve supports me with everything.

In all of my programs, we look at dreams and uncover these hidden dreams so that these are not part of issues.  It is a fantastic to see people living their dreams.  You can too.

How Can We Include Partners in Therapy?

griefAre you both at odds in regards to the behaviour management of your child with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder?

 

Do you keep thinking to yourself that you wish your partner would come to a therapy session?

I hear this comment a lot within Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder communities, with clients and shhhhh I have heard myself say this as well.  So believe me it is a common feeling amongst families.

HOW CAN WE INCLUDE PARTNERS IN THERAPY?

I know my partner would love to make it to every appointment but this is not realistic.  However he has to bring in the money to pay for these appointments.  Also as much as his boss is really accommodating, reality is he still needs to be at work.

Having a child with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder can challenge us as parents in regards with behaviour management.  We all come into parenthood with preconceived rules in regards to discipline.  Where do we learn our parenting skills from?  Our parents……….who learnt from their parents………..who learnt it from their parents.

Have you ever thought yourself saying “I will not discipline my children like my parent’s did?”.  It is fairly normal for individuals to think about what kind of relationship you would like to have that you may not have had as a child and what you would never do.  However I am sure we all have heard ourselves sound like our parents.

Nevertheless, when your child is diagnosed with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and a lot of other disabilities, all that we thought we knew goes out the window.  We are forced to look at our parenting skills and adapt these to suit their needs.  I know for me that was and can still be a challenge as we are not perfect all the time.

How can we include partners in therapy?

  • See if your partner can go to a therapy appointment every few months to see how things are going.

A few clients have approached their bosses and asked them for a couple of hours, once every three months to go to a therapy appointment and it has been amazing how accommodating as it is only every few months.

  • Video tape the sessions

If your therapist does not mind, video tape the session, only as a means of showing your partner.  Even if you are sitting at the other side of the room, your partner will get the main idea of what is occurring in the session.

  • Take notes

There is nothing stopping you for taking notes that you may be able to share with your partner.  If your partner is not involved at all for their own reasons, maybe just have them there in a spot for them to read or not read.  As they say you can draw a horse to water but you can not make them drink.

  • Have no conflict discussions about behaviours and how to meet them

We want children to be as independent and confident as possible so it is important to talk about what behaviours your child is demonstrating and work out the meaning behind them.  If your child wants more independence we should be encouraging them as this will improve their future outcome.  We all want less emotional eruptions and so we need to make adjustments and be flexible on how we are going to meet their needs.

There are parent’s out there who struggle to change their parenting and it can be extremely challenging on all parts because majority of the time it leads to fights and resentments.  If you need help in this area send me an email on info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au and we can arrange a time so that I can help your family come together.

 

 

Five Lifesaving Steps When You Feel The World Crumbling.

mother love

At the moment I am feeling like the world is crumbling around me.  I feel like nothing is going right (ok except my fight with the insurance company) but even that has taken its toll on my emotional well being.

I seem to be at logger heads with Emma.  She seems to be ignoring most of my instructions.  Getting extremely angry over every no.  Not actually accepting the word no.  Don’t even mention homework.

Grace seems to be reacting to everything and all I can think of is that I need to get off the earth for a bit.  Maybe I am having my internal meltdown and my body is screaming it is time to get off the world for a bit.

It is not helping that I am on medication that has been putting added pressure on my body and it seems to be playing with my migraines so it is making things more challenging.

I am also missing my mum and dad like crazy as I can’t just pick up the phone and call them for their advice.  I see the older generation around at the shops and think often how that was robbed from both of my parents.

We all have those moments and it is hard not to feel depressed.

So what can you do?

Here are five suggestions that can help you through these tough challenges.

  1. Treat your body like a temple.  It is very easy to seek out comfort eating to “make” us feel better.  However, if this food is not healthy and with chemical additives and preservatives, it will most likely make you feel worse.  So stick to fresh food and say no to processed food.
  2. Exercise.  I have been finding that when I exercise, the stresses seem to be minimised and I become more focused.
  3. Journaling.  Sometimes it is healthy to write about your problems so they are outside of your head.  However the key here is although we can dwell as much as you like on the past and current problems, it will not get you anywhere.  If you actually do not come up with a solution to the problem then you are not going to come out of the problem.
  4. Speak to a friend or a professional.  Sometimes having someone there to simply to listen can be very helpful.  Don’t expect them to solve your problem but to have an open ear as you work out the solution.
  5. Sitting with your child when they are asleep.  At the present moment I am sitting on Emma’s bed listening to them breathe whilst they sleep.  This is probably one of my favourite times of the day to help me feel grounded.  I also enjoying diffusing some essential oils to help the girls and myself to feel even more grounded.

I could go on and on to this list as there are always many way to solve a problem.  If you are needing someone to talk to I have a support program for parents on a weekly basis.  Support program

Creating Rituals Improves Relationship With Your Child

Do you have a set routine that your family?  Do you have rituals? Creating rituals improves relationship with your child.  In Becky Bailey’s book I Love You Rituals she explains the difference between routines and rituals and why we need to create rituals to improve relationship with your child.

Rituals are not routines. There is a difference between the two. The goal of routines is continuity. The goal of rituals is connection. Rituals create sacred space designated for togetherness and unity. Holiday rituals typify this point. Many families gather on Thanksgiving to bond in gratitude, and birthday rituals, such as having one’s favourite meal prepared, are a form of honouring a family member. Rituals are the glue that holds the mosaic of love together. Street gangs create rituals to fill the emptiness their members feel as a result of the lack of connection in their lives. We can create healthy rituals with our children, or they will form them with others as best they can. Just as in the earlier example of greeting your spouse, we can greet our children with an I Love You Ritual, or we can arrive at the day care center and say, “Where are your things? Hurry; we have to stop at the store on the way home.” The choice is ours. Loving, healthy rituals foster the development of loving, emotionally healthy children.

Bailey, Becky A. (2009-10-13). I Love You Rituals (Kindle Locations 215-223). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

The four goals to I love you Rituals are:

  1. Optimise your child’s brain for success and in life – Ritual activities aims to increase your child’s attention span and cooperation. It provides daily tune ups through which attention span improves and cooperation increases.
  2. Increases your learning potential and effectiveness through touch – Brain research confirms the critical role of touch in our mental and emotional health. When we touch one another, a hormone is released called the nerve growth factor. This hormone is essential to neural function and learning. The brain and the skin develop from the same embryonic tissue. The skin, in essence, is the outside layer of the brain. If we want smart, happy children, we must consciously touch them. It is time to relearn appropriate, caring touch and move past our fear of inappropriate touch. We must embrace touch for its value and function in development and learning. By understanding caring touch, children develop compassion for themselves and others. Hitting becomes hugging, snatching becomes asking, and the difference between caring touch and unwanted, uncomfortable touch is learned. Touch is the keystone of each of the I Love You Rituals.
  3. Create loving rituals that hold families together even through the roughest time – All cultures across time have created rituals. Rituals are a central part of life, whether they involve how meals are shared or how major events and holidays are marked. Rituals surround us, from the common birthday ritual of making a wish before you blow out the candles to bedtime routines that may include, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.” Rituals create time to be playful, to explore the meaning of our lives, and to rework and rebuild relationships. Think of the pleasant rituals from your childhood. What feelings are evoked as you allow yourself to reminisce? Generally, they are feelings of love, warmth, and safety. For these moments, “all is well” with yourself, your family, and the world.
  4. Strengthen the bond between children and adults that insulates children from drugs, violence, and peer pressure, laying the foundation for mental and emotional health – The bond between parent and child is the child’s primary source of emotional health. It gives your child the capacity to have satisfying relationships the rest of his or her life. A weak or anxious bond could reverberate through your child’s entire life in the form of low self-esteem, impaired relationships, and the inability to seek help or ask for it in effective ways. Research indicates that over one-third of the children in middle-class families suffer from anxious attachments to their parents. This insecure attachment tends to be transmitted from one generation to another. Every parent wants to know what early experiences enable a child to feel that the world is a positive place.

If you want to strengthen and improve your relationship, you must take action and participate in one of my favourite programs Connect with Your Child. 

 

 

How to Include A Sensory Diet Into Your Day

I know how hard it is to include a sensory diet into your day.  It is already hard enough dealing with everyday activities.  So I bet you are wondering how do you add a sensory diet in there as well.

But what is a sensory diet?  It is a ‘personalised schedule of sensory activities that give your child the sensory fuel his/her body needs to get into this organised state and stay there.  By providing beneficial sensory input throughout the day, you can create profound, long-lasting changes in your child’s nervous system’ (Biel, L and Peske, N.  Raising a Sensory Smart Child).

My Occupational Therapist after seeing me drag myself into therapy sessions feeling flustered because I seriously could not structure it in my day.  I think I felt completely overwhelmed by the list of activities we should be doing.

The best advice that she gave me was to include it in transition activities.

  • Doing bear walks after getting dressed to breakfast.
  • Frog jumps from breakfast to brushing teeth.
  • We got a decent sized rooms so I could set up a mini trampoline so I could iron (at a decent distance away) whilst getting them to jump/crash.  Plus by leaving it out they could do that whenever they liked it.
  • There are times in the day where I sat down and did activities with them.
  • In the car I gave them non noisy blowing toys.

Just remember, there will be days where everything goes out the window and that is ok.  We can not be perfect all the time.

If you want some easy suggestions on how to include the sensory diet into the day, feel free to email me at Rebecca@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au.

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