Tag Archives: ASD

Making Sensory Boxes

14 Jun

I am heartily sick of not being able to drive the ten miles to the local town without Small Boy and Small Girl arguing and fighting. They take any chance to needle each other and even to hit and slap. Frankly I’ve had enough of it, and I’m sure they have too. I don’t know why they can’t get along, but I remembered that when the teens were small they each had a cuddly toy that was only for car journeys. They would hug them and chat to them and play, and mostly things weren’t too bad. Armed with this thought I let it wander for a while and came up with an idea.

I had to drop Teen Girl at the bus station and Husband at the airport yesterday so I spent half an hour at the pound shop in town before making my way home. I bought this lot:-

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Then I popped into the supermarket for a couple of smallish strong boxes. Today I sorted out the piles into a set for B and a set for M:-

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Actually, I confess that the orange and blue rubbery stick men came from the autism conference I went to this week. But all the rest was from the pound shop. I chose a variety of toys that can be played with imaginatively, cuddled, stroked, or squeezed, and for a first attempt I don’t think I did too badly. I am planning to add to the boxes with some off-cuts of fleece fabric (they both adore the feel of fleece) and maybe something from Chewigem that is designed for putting in their mouths as M especially is very orally fixated, but they were delighted when they saw what I was up to. They both understand that these boxes are not for sharing (the idea is to keep them apart in the car) and that the boxes will not be used indoors.

The round balls aren’t easy to see in the photos above, but they are my favourite toy so far. Small Boy was very excited when I showed him what they do, and he has promised to try and use it instead of scrunching up his hands when he feels angry or frustrated. Here’s how they work:-

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I must admit, I’m a bit annoyed I didn’t pick one up for myself for when I’m stuck in traffic jams, or on the telephone to someone who is trying my patience, but I guess I can always sneak a shot of one of theirs.

So, here are the boxes so far:-

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Tomorrow afternoon the children and I are off to the autism centre’s summer picnic, a journey of over an hour on a day that will already have included Sports Day, so they could well be hot, tired and grumpy. I’m hoping the contents of these boxes will work a little magic and they will travel calmly. I’ll let you know.

NB For the purposes of my sanity when driving, I haven’t included any toys that squeak, chime or clunk, but if you are making a sensory box for home, depending on the age of your child(ren) I think adding noisy toys would be a great idea. And apologies for the poor quality of the pictures but it was quicker to take snaps on my phone than to faff about with my camera.

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Don’t judge by NT standards

29 Mar

A blog to myself really.

On Wednesday I collected R, my ds1 from his boarding school for the Easter holidays. I travelled with my eldest dd, and the 2 youngest. After a lovely Easter service at the school we then headed down the road to Strathclyde University for dd1 to attend an open day. R was extremely uptight about this as I could not seem to find anyone at the university who was able to tell me of somewhere quiet that R would be able to wait while we schlepped about in dd1’s wake. We do live “in the sticks” so to him, Glasgow is the epitome of the big bad city, with all it’s attendant noise and smells, to say nothing of the sheer numbers of people.

I had noticed a car park next to the hall we were starting at, and luckily we were able to park there. Little M went straight into her special needs buggy as a) she was highly anxious and b) I couldn’t risk her bolting. Poor R, aged 15, has no such safe place. He did accompany us into the hall, which luckily again wasn’t too crowded, but after 2 minutes he was starting to really twitch and I knew I had to do something. In desperation I asked him if he’d like to sit in the car. He jumped at the chance, and after making him promise he would lock himself in, I handed him the keys and he ran out the door.

I kept texting him to make sure he was happy every time we moved somewhere else, and he assured me he was perfectly fine. He had snacks, a drink, and he was plenty warm enough.

In the end we got back to the car 1 hour and 45 minutes after initially parking. R was totally immersed in a game on his Nintendo DS and was astounded we had been gone so long. He was safe, warm, quiet, in familiar surroundings and completely relaxed. But all I had felt was guilt I had “abandoned” him.

We chatted a bit on the way back up the road and he was truly surprised that I had been feeling like that. His view was that if I had dragged him round with the rest of us then I should have a right to feel guilty as he would have been subject to numerous sensory problems and high anxiety. I had been “the best mum” for leaving him in the peace of the car. I was projecting my 15 year old self onto the situation, where I would have been extremely upset to have been left behind, thereby missing out on all the new and exciting discoveries. Of course, all the “new and exciting” to R is a form of torture, too many changes and would, without massive amounts of preparation, have been his worst nightmare.

So although I consider myself quite the expert on my children, and no novice at the parenting of ASD children, I learned a valuable lesson. One I won’t forget in a hurry.

T.G.I.F

8 Mar

Good grief what a day!

Firstly I couldn’t rouse B or M for love nor money this morning, even though Friday is traditionally chocolate spread on toast for breakfast instead of healthy stuff.

Then after the mad dash to school I seemed to waste my 3 child-free hours in pointless housework (not pointless obviously but I’m sure I could have used my time better).

I went to collect M at 12 and that was fine. Until I realised that I had somehow locked myself out of the house. I rang hubby to check he at least had his keys (he did.) M was a bit anxious about her stomach (always hungry this kid) and as for some wonderful reason I had my wallet in my coat pocket – it lives in my handbag so this was a happy chance – I took her round the corner to the village cafe. By good luck the soup was lentil, so she had a half portion of that and a small cheese sandwich. Always a worry when feeding my ASD children out is whether they will eat as sometimes even a meal that sounds the same will look or smell too unfamiliar. I remembered that my antibiotics were indoors and I was due to take the lunch-time dose. Not gonna happen.

I texted dd1 to ask if she had her key with her and she didn’t. Why do I provide keys for the girls if they don’t take them with them? Surely this defeats the object. Dd2’s phone is on the blink so I rang the secondary school who were less than helpful and suggested all I could do was to drive around the town to see if I could find her. Yeah, thanks for that.

As it happens, even if I had been inclined to drive nearly 10 miles to search for a proverbial needle in a haystack I had agreed to meet M’s learning support assistant at 1.15 so we could work through M’s visual timetable together after the latest review meeting when we got some helpful tips. Another big change for M, going into school after lunch, and I wasn’t sure how she’d cope but in my worry about the keys I’d forgotten to ask anyone to take her for me and therefore left it too late.

She really enjoyed the afternoon though – Fridays have “golden time” which is more-or-less free activities so she played in the library area with 2 of her younger classmates, coming over to me every so often to “check in,” We stayed warm (massive bonus) and I was very happy with the way the visuals will now be done, slightly more streamlined and easier to read.

I took a chance and drove straight to the secondary – my reasoning being if dd2 had the key I could come home with it, sorted, and if not I would already be part way to the city to pick up hubby’s set. Any other night we would have descended on friends but a Friday means ds1 comes home from his boarding school, and if I don’t have his dinner cooked and keeping warm he won’t be able to get to Scouts on time (approx 1 minute turnaround time) so it was important to sort this. Dd2 had not long come in from a mini field trip and was surprised and rather amused to be called out of her maths lesson, but bless her she handed over her keys.

M by this point had run out of coping strategies and practically lost the plot to discover that I hadn’t bought any pizzas for tea.”But it’s Friday” she wailed over and over.”So if I buy you a pizza will you promise me you’ll eat it?” I asked. Friday has been pizza night for 2 years now as it’s the easiest option for ds1 to eat out of a tupperware box whilst being driven to Scouts, and so everyone has been used to it, M included, but in the last few weeks she’s been protesting she hates pizza.

Anyway, she insisted loudly that she would “only eat pizza” so another change, we drove to Asda, where I ran round grabbing a few items I knew we were short of. Got back in the car and then we had another sobbing fit “I don’t want to go home.” But this time I ignored her and drove,

Since we have been in, she has curled up on the sofa with the dvd of The Incredibles and I have been at peace. I took my late antibiotic, made a refreshing cuppa and sat down to blog it all out of my system. Frankly if you read this far thank you, but I am not bothered if anyone reads this post – it just needed to come out.

I have just heard from hubby that he has collected ds1 from his train and they are heading homewards. Now as long as we don’t get a power cut we should be fine from now on!

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