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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.

 

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.

Does Your Child Want Even Better Sleep?

sleepDoes your child have want even better sleep?  I swear this was Steve and I for 4 years with Grace.  It was night after night of trying to get her down before midnight, especially as she only slept for 40 minutes in a day.  Thank god for our paediatrician finally coming to the rescue with melatonin.

So I know this is a big problem for children with autism and sensory processing disorder.  A specialist explained to me a possible reason for this.  He said that for children with ASD the brain does not register the change in light.  So to them the brain does not register that it is getting darker.  Therefore the brain does not send the message to start producing the melatonin.  Therefore they need help to get them to sleep and keep them sleep.

So how do we get them down to sleep, let alone to stay down?

  • We are using melatonin on both the girls to at least to get them down at a reasonable time.
  • Research shows that a great way to also help with getting children ready for night time is having a set routine.  A professional told me about a pilot program her son was involved in and he is now in his late teens and he still does the same routine and it is extremely successful.  The pilot program encouraged a group of people to have a place in the house that is solely for night time preparation.  The child needs to go to that spot and do quiet activities.  No electronics allowed as well.  You also need to fit on your usual night time routine.  This gives the child’s body the clear message that it is slowing down.
  • Deep pressure massage, squishing between cushions are also good at this time to calm down the sensory system.

These steps have been helpful for my family but I have to admit is hasn’t been enough and so I have had to look for other options.  Essential oils have come into our lives and I haven’t turned back. I have been using the oils so much for my whole families well being.

For sleep:

  • In the afternoon when they come home from school I usually put oils which have a grounding effect on them from all the challenges that they have faced.  I also use an oil to help calm their nervous system down.
  • Then by evening I change the oil for one that will help with relaxation.
  • They also put on an blended oil in a roller bottle with a carrier oil and we put it on their feet.

Which oils may help your child’s body get an even better night sleep?

  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Vetiver
  • Sandalwood
  • Marjoram
  • Cedarwood

 

 

When Your Child Is Angry!

screaming childIt can be very distressing for everyone when your child is angry.  They have gotten themselves in a state that is hard to get them what they want and our adrenaline starts pumping to get them to stop.  The majority of the time the situation ends with everyone is yelling at each other.  Does it help?  Usually no.

I was talking with a couple of parents after I dropped Grace and Emma off to school.  They came up with some fantastic strategies that I thought I would share with you.

The first strategy is like a metaphor.  Get the child to picture that they are at the beach.  When the child is just on the edge of anger they are at the edge of the water and that is when they can get out of the anger.  Then as they go further into the water is the intensity of the anger and they can’t get out.  That is when you need to offer your child a lifeboat to help them come back. A great object to add is a blanket and they can get on and you can pull them to safety.

The other parent acknowledged that it is during this time that as parents we need to be compassionate and do our very best not to yell back.  I know with my girls I tend to label their emotion and find it calms them down a lot quicker and I take the time to sit with them to help them through their emotions.

What other tips do you know?

The One Question That Is Never Asked!

The one question that clients fail to ask about 98% of the time is…………………………………………….

HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MYSELF?

Self care is extremely important.

For parents of children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, the question how do I look after myself is rarely if ever asked.  This is a major concern for me.  During conversations early on in programs, I probe with the question how do you look after yourself and I usually hear crickets.

What I do hear is a lot of excuses.  Being a parent of a child on the spectrum or with SPD can be extremely exhausting.  There is simply so much to do for instance predicting and minimising meltdowns, getting them to appointments, doing tasks set from therapy sessions, fitting in ABA therapy sessions and let not add in the cleaning, jobs etc etc.  All the above tasks are time consuming as it is in my own household.

But what about YOU?  The biggest excuse for it is that I don’t have time.

Do you have time to get sick?  Do you have the time to fall into depression?

Your children need a well mum and dad physically, emotionally and spiritually.  They pick up when we are flat, when we are sick and not ourselves.  We do not have super powers that make us invincible.

YOUR CHILDREN NEED WELL MUMS AND DADS!

Taking time out in your day for a minimum for 15 minutes per day is not a lot in the scheme of things.  Imagine just having 15 minutes of doing something for you.  It could be just having a cup of tea.  Picking up a magazine to look at. To have a coffee with the friend.  To go for a walk. To stare out the window.  To walk around the shops.  Dancing around the house. Watch some TV. Imagine doing that everyday.

How great do you think you will feel?

Believe me you will feel amazing.  I always have a massive to do list.  But nothing is more important to me than spending a minimum of 15 minutes just to focus on me.  Believe me it helps to get you out of bed in the morning.  Everyone has 15 minutes somewhere in their day to focus on themselves.

Nevertheless, it is not easy to get your head around you, let alone to make it a daily habit.

It is time you take action and concentrate on you.  You will not regret it!  Suffering depression will suck you dry and you will not be useful to anyone.  I know, I have been there.

I offer a “It’s Time To Look After Me” program for all my clients.  This is one of my favourite programs to watch mums and dads start to look after themselves.  If you want to take action, this is the program for you.  Do not hesitate.  Just do the program.

Emma First School Excursion

Emma has her first school excursion to the farm tomorrow.  There has been a lot of preparation for this excursion over the last month.  At the start of the preparation there were a lot of tears and screaming but slowly it has ceased.

But tomorrow is the big day.

The challenges we are faced with are:

  • Parent’s are not allowed to go.  Thank goodness I have a very understanding teacher who has agreed that I meet them there so I can be a support person for Emma.
  • Never been on a bus.  We were going to take her on one over the holidays but we were having a lot of trouble with her in the car.  I can not go on the bus with her because we can not have other parents finding out.  So after a great discussion with her teacher, the teachers aide will sit with her so she doesn’t try and get off the bus.  She will have headphones on for the noise.  She will have her weighted blanket to calm the nervous system and I will get her to inhale some wild orange essential oil to help calm her down.
  • The farm in general.  This will be a challenging part because even at the zoo she spends about an hour climbing up my head in distress from it.  After discussion with her teacher, I want to stand back and just see what Emma does but the first hour could be a challenge and I am hoping that she will calm after that.  But if all goes wrong, I can take her home instead of battling too much with her.
  • They have a pony ride – I am sure she will be more than happy to watch.
  • They have a tractor ride – well I guess we will see how she goes with that.

I can see her having a great day.  But fingers are crossed.

How to Prepare an ASD or SPD Person For An Event.

Do you dread events that come up and wonder how you or your child will handle it?  Here is some steps on how to prepare an ASD or SPD Person for an event.

This weekend we took the girls to see the Lion King in Melbourne.  Although I was excited about it with sharing something so special, I also wondered how they would cope with something so new.  Things I was worried about were:

  • Heading into the city (didn’t connect until that morning that the Run for the Kids was also happening)
  • How they will go in crowds
  • How they would go being on a higher level
  • The sound level
  • Grace’s need for a break
  • What happens if they totally loose it during the show (mind you this one I worked out when I purchased the tickets, I made sure that our seats were at the end of the row).
  • I was also making this a surprise for Grace’s birthday (but silly me wrote it on the calendar on the wall and kind of didn’t factor in that Grace can read)

Nevertheless, after reading suggestions from Bill Nason, I thought I would share his suggestions and how I used them for this event.

Step 1:  Prepare in advance

The worst thing I could have done was keep it a secret to the day.  I knew Emma would love the Lion King as she watches it over and over again.  But even a week out she became anxious about it and it took her to a couple of days before to feel happy about going to see it.

Step 2:  Where are we going?

On the morning, I explained to the girls that we were going into the city and the fact that it was going to be busy and reminded them that they had to stay close and hold our hands.

Step 3:  Make each step a sequence

When we parked the car, I told the girls that we were going to have lunch.  I had given us plenty of time to have lunch before the show so it was nice and relaxed and the girls did not feel any pressure.  They both chose their lunch and so they had some control of the situation.

The next instruction was that we were going to walk to the Regent Theatre.  We reminded them that there would be lots of people around so we expected them to hold hands so that we do not get separated.  We also had the opportunity to actually divert around some of the crowded places which helped.

We were still an hour ahead but it gave the girls a great opportunity to look around the place before it got busy.  Plus it had stairs out front which is great for regulation.  But the girls had the chance to remain calm during the time (although they did get bored). It also gave us an opportunity to look through the program and talk about what they were going to see.

The next step was actually going to our seats. I explained to the girls it will be a bit high but it would be the best place to see everything that is happening.  We took it slowly and they handled it really well.  I took the time to tell the girls what was expected of them and that they needed to remain seated.  I also told Grace when she could stand up and have her break so she knew in her head that she was going to get her break.

IMG_3488

We took their noise reducing headphones with us which was ideal because the music was not so loud for them and it gave them some deep pressure at the same time.

Throughout the show we quietly spoke to them about what was happening which helped Grace especially as no one likes (spoiler alert) when Mustafa dies.

At the end of the show, we knew that their nervous system would be on edge so I put a drop of wild orange essential oil in their hands and let them breathe it is because citrus oils may help to support the nervous system.  (These statements have not been evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease).

Once again we stepped through the process until we got to the car and we had a fantastic day out.

Reference:  Bill Nason, The Autism Discussion Book, page 56. 

Building a Relationship With Your ASD and SPD child.

Welcome to Part 2 of building a relationship with your ASD and SPD child.  If you have yet to read part one follow the link here Part 1.

How did you go this week?  How much time did you spend with your child and what activities did you do?

I spent time with both my girls individually so both children felt that I valued what activities that they were doing.  I also spend every night doing homework with them and acknowledging how hard they are trying.  Over the weekend, we went away to Anglesea so I had a lot of time to enjoy the girls.

So why is this important?

Years ago I completed a program called Circle of Security.  The goals for the program is to increase sensitivity to the child’s cue, increase self other reflective capacity and explore new representations and interaction patterns.

Circle of security

In the diagram above it demonstrates the continuous circle that all children do around throughout the day and mum and dad are always there as a safe base and safe haven.

Nevertheless for our journey to building a relationship with our ASD and SPD child some of their cues are very small and we can miss them and the interaction.

So this week I want us to a) spend a minimum of 5 minutes with your child and do things that they like to do to continue showing your child that they are valued and b) write down all the cues that they give to get you to interact.

I would love for you to share your cues with others that are reading to see if that helps work out some of the quiet cues they give.  You can also share them on the facebook page.  If you would prefer to share through email simply email on info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au if you have any questions.

Have a fantastic week.

Building A Relationship With Your ASD and SPD child

 

This month we are focusing on spending at least 5 minutes with your child.  So I thought I would develop a series of posts to help you in building a relationship with your ASD and SPD child.  This post is Part 1.

Numerous parents of children on the spectrum and with sensory processing disorder say to me that they have trouble with developing a relationship with their child because they do not give much feedback or they do not want them to be near them.  I usually ask the question “Do you want them to do something you want to do or are you following your child’s lead?”  Usually it is because we are wanting them to do something we want to do.

Would our child respond to us differently if we follow their lead?

For parents of children who do not give little response or want you to be near them

First, I want to acknowledge the feelings that you might have currently with how your relationship with your child.  Before a child is born we naturally dream about the type of relationship we want to have with our child and sadly for a lot of mums and dads this does not happen.  Over time we can feel discouraged and vulnerable as a parent.

Some children on the spectrum do not like us to be near them but there are definitely many ways that you can be with your child and in time will start to see little things for instance child might look your way, smile.  As an ABA therapist, when we first commence working with a child we simply just be present with the child.  We sit near them but stay at a 45 degree angle, smile at the child and simply be quiet and just watch.  Some children will not like this at the start but we do need to start to build a relationship and by simply sitting there whilst they are enjoying what they are doing, we are acknowledging that we value what they are interested in.

The first task for parents who have this scenario happening, over the next week, I want you to simply sit near the child, do not say anything and have a smile on your face.  You do not have to do it long, especially for those who find their child is resistant to this.  But you need to do it at least once a day.  Over the week write down any changes that you see in your child and feel free to share it here, on the Facebook page or if you want to do it privately do not hesitate to contact me at info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au.

For Mums and Dads who get some response from their child

For mums and dads who get some response from their child and would like to strengthen their relationship it is important to follow your child’s lead.  In parallel play, children will play beside each other and copy what the other children are doing.  For us parents, we need to do the same with our child.  Once again it is important to be around a 45 degree angle so that you can be in their field of vision.  You need to copy what your child is doing because that is what your child like to do.  It is also one of their strengths and it shows the child that you value their interests.  It could be sitting and looking at a book about dinosaurs, it could be making lines of toys and it can even be flapping.

You might think to yourself hang on there……………………….you are suggesting we flap our hands and that is one behaviour that we are trying to change.  I know it does sound silly.  However, when your child is flapping their hands do they feel safe, accepted and competent?  Yes they do!  By copying your child they are feeling safe because they are doing something that interests them.  They will feel accepted for who they are and they do feel competent.

You do not have to do it long, especially for those who find their child is resistant to this.  But you need to do it at least once a day.  Over the week write down any changes that you see in your child and feel free to share it here, on the Facebook page or if you want to do it privately do not hesitate to contact me at info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au.

For parents with older children with ASD and SPD

This can be a tough area especially if they are shutting you out.  Even when they are older you still want to have a relationship with your child.  The same principals apply to you.  Find an activity that your child likes to do and share the experience with them.  You still need to follow their lead because we want to foster that they feel safe and valued.  It is important that you do not direct the activity.  Even being in the same room if they are watching a TV show shows your child that their interests are valued.

You do not have to do it long, especially for those who find their child is resistant to this.  But you need to do it at least once a day.  Over the week write down any changes that you see in your child and feel free to share it here, on the Facebook page or if you want to do it privately do not hesitate to contact me at info@coachingforlifetimechange.com.au.

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