I like to think of myself as a ‘warrior mum’ not a ‘pushy parent’ 


3 years so far, 3 years that I’ve been in a constant battle for understanding and awareness of my child’s additional needs. And I talk to many parents on a daily basis that have been fighting for a lot longer than this. 
After I saw on Twitter that there had been a lot of debate on a certain article published by the TES and Guardian, I thought I’d best give it a read. 

Straightaway whilst reading through it sparked many thoughts and comments about the journey we’re having with our eldest child, and also my own experiences of the education system. 

The first article I read was titled: 

“Its unforgivable that so many children are misdiagnosed with learning difficulties, diverting help from those with genuine need.” 

From TES 24/02/17

www.tes.com

What makes me so compelled to explain myself is that I often stop and think that I may be perceived as a ‘pushy parent,’ instead of a parent who only wants the best for their child, it has stopped me from speaking out in the past and even though I’m now seeing traits of SPD in my youngest child, due to the negative perceptions and receptions I’ve received in the past 3 years, I’m now too afraid to mention anything, I’d rather wait until a professional approaches me ‘if’ they notice something in her. This is wrong, I shouldn’t have to feel like this, with my eldest I just couldn’t stand by and watch her suffer after being told repeatedly since she was 18-months old that “she’ll grow out of it.” Or her sensory seeking behaviours we’re “normal for her age.” 

The one huge factor in having to be in constant ‘battle mode’ is that my child is a huge ‘masker’ of her difficulties at school, and schools seem to be the place where all the assessments go on, they never ask to come in to observe her at home where she feels most comfortable in a environment with both myself and her father, her main care givers, who she knows will love her unconditionally. So what did I do? I sent an 11-page document explaining and detailing how our daughter presents at home to the ASD assessment team as she is currently at the start of an ASD assessment, I do wonder if they see me as a ‘pushy parent’ but I’m a huge believer in always looking at the bigger picture and ‘just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there!’ 

I’ve had so many battles with being believed with our daughter as she displays ASD traits but can give eye contact to the people she is most familiar with, and she can engage in imaginative play and this baffles professionals, (I’m exactly the same,) I will always stand by that the ASD spectrum is so wide that not every child ‘doesn’t give eye contact,’ etc they need to look so carefully at each child as an individual. I’ve researched PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance) as our daughter scores highly on the PDA scales on the PDA Society website, but actually getting professionals to accept this is a huge battle in itself, even though I’ve clearly identified these traits in my child. 

One statement that really did hit a raw nerve with me was: 

“Almost three-quarters of teachers (72 per cent) believed some parents wanted their child to be labelled as SEND, even though there was little objective evidence to support that belief” 

TES 24/02/17

I would never just ‘want’ my child to be labelled as SEND, I advocate for her for one HUGE reason, and that is to prevent her from going through the same difficulties as myself through the whole school education system, because no one looked at the bigger picture and I was just left to ‘get on with it’ and my mental health suffered so much as a result. 

I was labelled as ‘Painfully Shy’ at both middle school and high school, did they not notice that I was not giving eye contact? That I never spoke up in class? That I was a loner on the whole but hid behind ‘friends’ that I thought were protecting me? That after these ‘friends’ had legged it out at lunchtime (and I didn’t like breaking the rules,) that I hid away in the school library for safety? Did they never notice that I was chewing the skin off my palms and all my fingers and biting holes in my jumpers because I was that traumatised by the sounds and sheer amount of people around me? Did they never know that I was being bullied and teased every single day? Did anyone ever take the time to actually talk to me about what I enjoyed doing and then they would have realised that I had ‘special interests’ and I could tell them anything and everything about these special interests? 

No, nothing, zilch 😦 

Because I was never given the help and support I so desperately craved my difficulties have been given many labels ‘anxiety’ ‘depression’ even ‘Bi Polar’ in 2008, but I’ve always believe that there was something more, but too afraid to tell anyone in fear of being labelled as ‘strange’ or ‘weird.’ 

I’ve been involved in conversations where professionals are confused as to why I can explain exactly how my child is feeling, especially in terms of sensory overloads, for example, I know that she’d be distracted by a label in her uniform as I used to feel the same, labels could effect my whole day at school, like a razor blade is cutting into my skin around my neck. 

I do wonder which teachers were surveyed for ‘YouGov’ on behalf of GL Assessment, (The leading provider of formative assessments to U.K. schools,) as an Early Years teacher of 13 years, even before having my children I would never have ‘blamed’ parental pressure, I just saw them as passionate parents wanting the best for their children. 

I have, sadly, heard many comments such as “you didn’t get all these Special Needs in my day,” and “they are just naughty” but I will always argue that today, in the present we are very lucky to have such a wealth of knowledge via the use of the Internet and more reasearch is thankfully done to understand SEND better than, say even in the 1980’s when I was born. 

If I ever have time mid-meltdown, (or sensory overload,) I would conclude to myself that I could never make any of this up, whilst I’m attempting to calm my child down, by safely restraining her, even though I’ve never had any safe restraining training, though I’ve asked for this time after time. 

In fact, after 3 attempts at applying for DLA I’m now too afraid to apply again, and we save every penny to provide our child with sensory equipment to support her ‘sensory seeking needs’ and equipment like a ‘weighted blanket’ to calm her. In fear of being accused of making it all up to gain benefits. I don’t want money, I don’t want preferential treatment in exams once she reaches this age, as the TES report suggests that: 

Teachers claim that some parents are pushing for a special needs diagnosis so that their children will be given preferential treatment in exams.” 

TES 24/02/17 

www.tes.com

My priority is that my child is happy which is paramount, I spent so much time revising for my GCSE’s in fear of not passing, that I shut myself away from the world and was verging on a breakdown just in fear of failure. I HAD to pass those exams and I missed out on so much in this time, I wanted to match up to the other students around me to appear ‘normal’ and I do not want this for my child. 

I’ve wanted to give up this fight so many times, being knocked back and sent away, but I can’t just leave it, I’ve had to grow a massive backbone which is a huge thing for someone who finds it difficult to oppose anyone else’s viewpoint and has avoided any difference in opinion or confrontation for most of my life. 

I’m now not ashamed to advocate for my child, before we started our journey I would let people walk all over me and just agree with what professionals say, and thought they are experienced, they must be right it must be my parenting…

Umm… no… 

… I am a fighter, warrior mum and I do this because I want understanding and support for my child, for now, for teenager years, and to enable her to reach adulthood without being afraid to be herself and for others to understand her and to accept her for the fantastic, individual and unique person she is 🙂 
Thanks for reading 🙂 

Hooked on Labels - responses & other relevant posts linky

Marble~Sparkly Play Dough 

We love making Play Dough in our house! 

We made this batch on a rainy day and it was only by accident that it turned out to have a marble-effect. 

I used the usual recipe of: 

2 cups of plain flour

1 cup of salt

2 cups of water 

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tbsp of cooking oil 

Food colouring (for this we used blue) 
When adding the food colouring a first time the desired colour wasn’t achieved so after mixing it in we added another few squeezes of colouring and this made the marble-effect. We also added some silver and blue glitter for an added effect and also mixed in some vanilla essence to provide a scent. 
Thanks for reading 🙂 

Lines! 

“Does she line things up?” 

This is a question that comes up frequently during appointments for Lou. I must admit I’ve quietly thought to myself : why does it matter if she does?!? The trouble is I don’t always grasp what people are trying to get at! 

We have been noticing more lately as Lou approaches 5 years old, that she prefers to line her toys up, early assessment reports would always say: “Doesn’t  appear to line things up.” Then I’m guessing this wouldn’t have been seen unless it was in the comfort and safety of her own home. Recently Lou has developed an interest in little characters such as ‘Shopkins,’ ‘Trolls’ from the recent movie, ‘Peppa Pig’ and ‘Tsum Tsum’ characters, she will also line up her Barbie dolls and wooden bricks, anything that’s within her reach really. It always amazes me how she knows the name of every single character and will name them as they are placed into line: “there you go, into the line Stawberry Kiss.” She also tells me every day who has been the: ‘Line Leader’ at school! 

I’m always interested in the theory behind these things and started to think that during my experience in Early Years Education that I’ve seen many Neurotypical (NT) children perfectly happy to line things up, in the chaos of a toddler or child’s mind I can see how to order and line objects such as toys can provide some organisation and control to the many things that are loading into their brains as they are like ‘sponges’ taking in so much information about the world around them. 

Then I starting to think about my ‘ways’ (as we describe them in our household!) and thought back to being a teenager that  had a certain place for every single ornament on shelves, books and CD’s in alphabetical order, everything in it’s own place and if any item was ever moved I could tell straight away and feel very frustrated and this feeling would only go away when I moved the object back into it’s certain place. This reminded me that when Lou is lining her toys up she prefers to be on her own and if her sister, Moo (almost 2) moves a character out of the line that Lou is making, or if a character falls down then the whole lot will get thrown across the room and this will often result in a meltdown. 

“I told you to stand up Cooper!” (Said in an angry voice.)

This is a character from The Trolls movie that has a very long neck and is notorious for falling over out of line! Lou will say “he’s my favourite because he ‘poos’ cupcakes! 

I read that: 

“A disruption in the order of alignment of the line of toys might be upsetting because lining up the toys provides comfort and a sense of control.” 

Source: oureverydaylife.com

I think that by having my children I did have to adapt and mellow out a bit in terms of taking this sort of control in my life as I learnt to dedicate my time to them rather than spending time cleaning and lining up. At times of more stress I will have a burning desire to clean and organise more and I find this is a way to reduce my anxieties and gain back some control. I cannot help that my brain is saying to me that I like the way a room looks after it’s been cleaned and organised, and it’s the control and organising the mind aspects I guess that prompts Lou to line her toys up. I guess that after a day of demands and holding in her sensory overloads at school could result in coming home and feeling better after lining her toys up. 

One thing that I do want to try and help with is that this doesn’t become more of a problem as Lou teaches her teenage years or adulthood, as I couldn’t revise for my GCSE’s or do any University work until a room was tidy, if I did try and sit down and study before tidying I would be distracted by dust on the TV, bits on the floor and I’d just have to get up and clean it, often resulting in working in to the early hours of the morning and resulting in a ‘burn-out’ whilst revising for my GCSEs, GNVQ at college and University degree and I’m still like it now – before I start work on my laptop I have to clean up first! The difference is that my lining up and order verges on OCD that is treated via my GP, it is an obsessive nature that has grown with me over time and I can’t even remember if I lined up my toys as a child! I worry that Lou has picked up on this but simply cannot help the way that my brain is wired. 

This is why I sent the relevant information to the ‘Umbrella Pathway’ panel (assessment for ASD in Worcestershire.) As for now I will not encourage Lou to stop lining things up as I can see that it’s therapeutic for her at the moment, and she’s decided to do it on her own agenda, but early intervention is key and I want her to avoid it becoming more and more obsessive as she gets older, to prevent it interfering with other aspects of her life like her school work, or relationships as it takes a lot of Lou’s daddy to understand my ‘ways!’ And not everyone could put up with it! 
I’m always fascinated to hear other people’s experiences about lining things up, whether a child or adult. I like to find out the theory behind it all. If anyone would like to share a story either named or anonymously I’d be happy to share.

Please email

Or leave me a comment or inbox on 

Twitter 

Facebook

Or add on comments at the bottom of this  post 🙂 
Thanks for reading 🙂 

“Today Poppy the Troll is the line leader”

Spectrum Sunday

Recycling fun 


For a few weeks now my eldest daughter (almost 5) has been taking an interest in the materials that we recycle, she has been wanting to keep bottles, boxes and tubes for her ‘making.’ 

I provided her with: 

  • Boxes, bottles, tubes,
  • Lolly sticks 
  • PVA glue
  • Glue spreaders 
  • Squares of card 
  • Sequins 

It is good to see what the child decides to create themselves, this time it was a guitar! 
Thanks for reading 🙂 

Craft at Home ~ Bottle Painting 


This activity includes 3 simple materials:

  • Paint
  • Paper – coloured or white
  • Bottles – the larger fizzy drinks ones are what we used.

This activity can be completed on the table, but we placed a floor covering down and found it was easier on the floor. The bottom of the bottles leave a fantastic pattern on the paper which look like flowers, it also gives a good effect when the bottles are repeatedly printed to produce a lovely spotty pattern of varying colours.

This activity could be extended by using different sized bottles and ones with different types of bottoms to produce varying prints.

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

Magic Wand Craft 


We are huge lovers of all craft activities in our household, my eldest daughter who’s almost 5 is really into all things magical, Fairies, Trolls, Princesses, etc. 

We were lucky that we already had the materials to make Magic Wands at home and can be created to the child’s choice of design. 

You will need: 

  • Lolly sticks
  • PVA glue
  • Glitter 
  • Sequins, stars, flowers, etc
  • Gold and silver larger stars, we had Pre-cut ones but these can easily be cut out from gold/silver card. 
  • Felt-tips or paints

Step 1: Colour the desired amount of lolly sticks, we used felt tips but they can also be painted. 

Step 2: Once the lolly sticks are dry they can be decorated with glitter and sequins. 

Step 3: Either cut gold/silver stars for the top of the wand or use Pre-cut ones. 

Step 4: Leave wands to dry, then enjoy!!

Thanks for reading 🙂 

I have linked up to #makeitlinky 

Relaxation Therapy

file-3

Figure 1 Relaxing in our ‘Sensory/calm zone’ at home.

Our daughter, Amber, who is almost 5, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD,) in April 2016. She is currently at the start of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD,) assessment. Amber’s anxieties about changes to her routine, or uncertain events are portrayed through a fair amount of frustration and aggressive behaviours, especially at home.

Amber started an intervention at school in September 2016, delivered by an outside agency called Relax Kids, with weekly relaxation therapy sessions.

These “strategies mimic clinically-proven anger management and mitigation treatments such as therapeutic exercise and yoga, breathing exercises, and mindfulness exercises. These can be used as anger management tools, ways to help at moments of meltdown, or methods to make time-outs constructive rather than punitive.” Source: www.relaxkids.com/what-is-a-class

Amber’s sensory processing difficulties and anxiety can manifest in the form of frustration, at home especially, where she feels most comfortable. We experience a great deal of aggression in the form of hitting, throwing objects, shouting, climbing on furniture and rough-housing behaviours with her younger sister. If it gets to the point where Amber experiences a meltdown or sensory overload, as I like to call them, we use the techniques that she’s been taught in her relaxation sessions at school, and in addition I put my own ideas in from my experience with working with Early Years children and children with additional needs.

After reading more via the Relax Kids website and Facebook page, I also realised that the classes help to develop spatial awareness and awareness of self and where their body is situated, which is something that Amber’s Occupational Therapist wanted her to develop.

Some of the techniques for relaxation that we use at home are:

  • Create a specific ‘calm’ area in the house – Amber prefers to be enclosed in a small space so we decided to convert the area under the stairs into a ‘calm area,’ which includes cushions, blankets, fairy lights, bubble tubes and a range of sensory toys and equipment, such as coloured gel droppers and a pink sand timer. We are hoping that over time Amber will recognise herself when she feels like she needs to go to the calm area herself, when she is feeling angry or frustrated about something, and to avoid a sensory overload, or meltdown.

calm-area-lights

Figure 2, Bubble Tube and Rainbow projector in the ‘Calm Area.’

  • Incorporating calming music – I like to play classical music at times such as after school, this is when Amber releases her tensions and overloads from her day at school. I also find classical music calming; a favourite in our house is ‘The Aquarium’ from ‘The Carnival of the Animals,’ by Saint-Saens.
  • Breathing deeply in and out from 1 to 10 and repeat if necessary.
  • Lying flat on the floor, placing a teddy on her tummy and counting, breathing in and out from one to ten.
  • A breathing a visualisation technique to focus away from a frustrating or angry feeling – “Smell the flower and blow out the candle” – I tend to label the colours of the flowers and candles too. The most recent method Amber has learnt is to Breathe in and imagine smelling the sweet hot chocolate. Breathe out to cool it down.” Which I quite like and will practice at home.
  • Squeezing something – such as Blu Tac, or a stretchy butterfly helps to tighten and relax muscles, and we find this sort of thing also helps as Amber is a huge sensory seeker.
  • Creating a starfish shape on the floor – breathing in and relaxing arms, legs and head.
  • Having a dedicated ‘chill out time’ at home, this we work on, Amber finds it difficult to focus and stay still for any length of time. Activities include exploring playdough together, drawing, craft work, puzzles, etc.
  • We find that Amber likes to be wrapped in her Weighted Blanket this has a calming effect on her, this has been specifically made for her weight.

We would be completely lost without these techniques and by using relaxation therapy techniques in the home we’ve noticed a huge improvement in terms of coping with Amber’s meltdowns, or sensory overloads.

‘Relax Kids’ offer many products such as CDs, books, cards and downloadable printables, which can be found in their online store

Thanks for reading 🙂

img_20161009_085140_processed.jpg

Spectrum Sunday

A ‘Mess Around’ Birthday Party

dsc00023

Last August we attended a ‘Mess Around’ messy play session at a local village hall, both of my girls thoroughly enjoyed the session.

Today my eldest daughter, Amber (4) attended a joint 5th Birthday Party for 2 of her school friends. Amber got straight in to explore the materials and we were impressed with the different messy play experiences on offer, Amber was a huge fan of the ‘Ice Cream Exploration’ Tuff Spot tray, where she was able to make her own ice cream cone with sprinkles!

 

Another popular Tuff Spot tray for Amber was the Fairy one which included fairy figures, with little cups full of custard and artificial grass for effect. Amber, of course, wanted to explore with all of her senses and had a little try of the orange jelly!

 

I am always so impressed how well thought out and carefully placed the various areas of the Mess Around sessions are. Other trays included: A number 5 made from coloured rice, A Dinosaur land which included various types of lettuce a rainbow made from brightly coloured spaghetti, a water tray full of sensory beads and a drain pipe ramp with pink soap, cups and balls, there was also a big strip of paper to paint on at the front of the hall, with a variety of different utensils to paint with. A really nice touch was a canvas that was given to each of the children who hosted the party with a hand print from every child that attended.

 

There was also a long table set out for play dough, and we made a special creature using the play dough, pipe cleaners, Googly eyes and sequins.

playdough-mess-around

Early on in the session Amber had spotted the foam machine that she had loved at the end of the Mess around session we had attended the previous August, she was delighted when the foam started!

amber-bubbles

What a fantastic way to end a fabulous Mess Around session!

I have written a previous review after we attended a Mess Around organised session last August:

Mess Around session review

 

Mess Around have a national website:

www.messarounduk.com

Our local area is:

www.messarounduk.com/worcestershire

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

Activities we’ve done 


‘Cloud Dough’
I’ve been wanting to try this out with Lou for a while now, I used to make it for the children I worked with in the nursery. We used baby oil and plain flour to make a very soft consistency, you can use food colouring but we left it plain. We did this outside with a tray as it does create quite a lot of mess! Lou loved the way she could create shape moulds with the dough she said “it’s like my motion sand!” 

Sensory Play Dough

I made play dough using our normal recipe of:
2 cups plain flour
2 cups salt
2 cups water 
2 table spoons of oil
2 tea spoons of Cream of Tartar
In the past I’ve then added to the microwave but I’ve found that adding boiling water works just as well.
I coloured the dough pink with food colouring and added Cinnamon. Lou liked smelling the dough and creating her own cupcakes.


Glittery Foam

Lou requested to have foam outside so I used shaving foam and to add an extra touch, glitter. She absolutely loved getting it on her hands! 

Spaghetti, pasta and rice play.

I am hoping to buy a ‘Tuff Spot’ or ‘Builder’s tray’ for sensory/messy play purposes. But for now I used an old under the bed storage box to put some rice, pasta and spaghetti in, both girls immediately wanted to get inside to sit amongst the materials! They used tea set items to transfer the rice, etc. Moo wanted to eat the pasta! 
Thanks for reading 🙂 

Sensory/Craft Ideas Link up #1

file1-1

Here is my first Link-up 🙂

Let’s Share ~ Sensory/Craft Ideas. 
We love Sensory/Messy Play in our household, I’ve created a Link-up where other bloggers can share their photos of Sensory/Messy play and/or Craft ideas, along with a description and any list of resources/ingredients/equipment used.

I have learnt that to share ideas is a fab thing. I’d also love to hear posts about any classes or groups that you have attended with your children, such as messy play groups, etc.

If you are not a blogger, I’d still love to hear from you as you can always send me an email at:

sensorysensitivemummy@outlook.com

 

Thanks 🙂

Please find the Link – Up below:

And if possible please copy and paste the Link-Up button code and add it to your post 🙂 

For any link up posts shared on social media please use the hashtag: 
#sensoryandcraftshare