Tag Archives: CAMHS

Bubbles are cool

19 Nov

It’s been a long – very long – time since my last post but so much has been going on, even though I’ve had plenty to say, I’ve had little time (or inclination) to write about it.

Long story short: in addition to Teen Boy and Small Girl being autistic, I now have a third diagnosed child – Small Boy. The whole process, from first discussing concerns with school to diagnosis, took a staggeringly fast four months, which goes some way to making up for the disasters that were the previous two times.

Coupled with that, and poor Small Boy’s horrendous autumn term so far, Teen Girl’s health has continued to be very poor, meaning that she is almost always in pain, exhausted, or swollen from whatever it is she is allergic to. The local hospital have run out of ideas so we’re now waiting for more specialist help at a hospital further away. In the mean time, her whole life is on hold, which is no way for a 17 year old to exist.

Small Boy is, we think, in the grip of an early hormone surge which is making his anger over small issues blow up out of all proportion. It’s like living with a hungry T-Rex most of the time, or as Small Girl says, “he has a volcano in his tummy and sometimes the lava goes everywhere.” She’s not wrong, and if he does get past the point of calming, the meltdowns are the worst I’ve ever seen. Bearing in mind I’ve had almost 18 years of parenting autistic children this is saying something.

School are being wonderful and have stepped up to provide as much support as they can, and right now neither one of the smalls has any pressure to do homework, which has taken after-school time to be a lot less stressful on us all.

Small Girl is not making a huge amount of progress on dealing with her anxiety, but she is really trying. Her CaMHS appointments come around every two or three weeks and the woman she sees is patient and very experienced. Right now, we are working on filling in a 5 point scale, so that SG can learn to recognise when her anxieties are building and try to self calm before she reaches meltdown.

One great calming technique is blowing bubbles. SG loves doing this anyway, and from my point of view, it’s cheap and easy to do just about anywhere. When she gets upset, the control needed to blow large bubbles automatically means her breathing will slow down, meaning she keeps calmer.  Here she is blowing a huge bubble this morning:

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She was engaged with her session this morning, and then ate her lunch in the car on the way back to school. She begged me to keep her off but she only had to make it through 90 minutes and I wasn’t going to be swayed by her big puppy-dog eyes, although I was very tempted. You can see for yourself just how cute she can be when she tries:

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Almost the end of another school week, and hopefully it will be a good one with no meltdowns from anyone.

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Mental Health and Making Choices

5 Mar

Today M had a CAMHS appointment. CAMHS for anyone who doesn’t know, stands for Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services. There is a lot of debate about how much use a lot of the professionals involved in this service are, especially to young people with autism, but so far we’ve been rather lucky.

M suffers very badly with anxiety which colours most of her days, and often intrudes on her sleep too. The mental health worker at CAMHS is working with M through play, to try and unpick the worst triggers for this anxiety, and then to help M recognise and deal with it. As you can imagine it’s not a fast process. Even worse is that poor M gets anxious about the appointments and then has trouble winding down afterwards, which I’ve learned to my cost can be problematic when I’m racing back to collect her brother from school.

However, today was also the morning for my once a month visit to the city’s autism centre where they have what they call the Drop In, two hours of meeting up with parents in the same situation, coffee and biscuits, and more often than not a guest speaker. I’ve met some wonderful people there and I really need those two hours.

I can’t physically get from the autism centre to collect M and then to her appointment so I braced myself to tell the school that I would be removing her for the entire day in order for me to have my allotted time to decompress and relax with my friends. M is welcome there – all children are – and it’s quiet and secure (always good to know with a runner). School were on my side and had no issue with this arrangement. How forward thinking is that? An establishment that realises and acknowledges that if the parent falls apart from lack of support that the family will suffer. It’s rare I can tell you.

So, M was delighted at her day off school until I insisted she take a bag of things to occupy her. She resisted, I insisted again. I won. She plugged herself into her ear defenders and sulked for most of the journey.

We arrived, she found a table in the far corner of the room, collected a biscuit, raided the play room area for pencils and paper and settled down. Her bag of toys was emptied and lined up, and she was absolutely beautifully behaved for the whole two hours. There was plenty of space for her to spin, and boy did she spin a lot today, but the great part is no-one there bats an eyelid, it’s just a regular occurrence to see stims of this kind, and M knows it’s an autism centre, so she can be herself. She even made a new friend:-

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Contrast this happy picture with her poor little face forty minutes later while she was waiting for the CAMHS appointment – the anxiety was really building by this point:-

 

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When she’s in the room she generally participates but if there are questions she can’t or won’t answer she makes like she’s deaf. It’s amazing just how she can ignore a question so well; I sit there squirming and she has no guilt whatsoever.

After this session I took her to a garden centre which has a superb cafe and treated her to an ice cream followed by a run about outside where there is a huge slide and a swing. She spent half an hour regulating her system by swinging and then was happy to sit in the car on the journey home. I didn’t even try to suggest homework as I felt it might be a flash-point, so she got to watch some TV and then had a shot on the computer; all the treats tonight.

I was lucky not to have to rush home today as someone else could pick up the wee man, and having the school validate my decision to take the whole day was something I really appreciate. It wasn’t an easy decision, choosing to reduce M’s school time even further, but I think I did the right thing for both of us. And if another CAMHS appointment falls on the same day as the Drop In, I will do it again.

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