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

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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 🙂

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Spectrum Sunday

A ‘Mess Around’ Birthday Party

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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!

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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

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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 

Let’s share ~ Sensory/Craft Ideas


Last summer I included a lot of Sensory/Messy Play and Craft ideas, via sharing photos of what we have done on my blog and Facebook Blog page. This was after planning a ‘Sensory Diet’ for Lou as she is a huge ‘Sensory Seeker,’ and she thrives on these type of activities.

I have recently had to reduce my work load due to ongoing back problems, whilst I await treatment, which I have been upset about as working in Early Years settings is all I’ve ever known. What I realised recently is that I can use my knowledge of early years activities to share ideas, especially as sensory play and craft are huge areas of my interests, and I do a lot of these types of activities at home with both Lou and Moo.

I also hope to share a range of new reward charts that I’m currently putting together, I’m having to change Lou’s ‘Frozen’ chart to her new interest of ‘Trolls.’

We cannot wait to get started on more sensory/messy activities as the weather starts to improve, we spent so many hours in the garden last spring and summer, and I have ordered Lou a ‘Tuff Spot,’ or ‘Builder’s tray’ to explore many of her favourite and new materials.


And of course it had to be pink!

What I hope to do now is to create a ‘Linky’ where other bloggers can link up 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

The follow image is going to be the Linky icon for when the posts are linked up:


Whilst I get to grips with how this works, as it’s all new to me! I’ll be sharing some activity ideas via my Facebook page:

Sensory Sensitive Mummy 

Thanks for reading 🙂
get the InLinkz code “>

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Sensory Sensitive Mummy



Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

I hold my hands up… I’m struggling ! 


There are sometimes when I feel like I would like to lift my brain out and gladly have it replaced with another… 

I’m completely guilty of thinking I can take on the world when I’m having good run in terms of feeling confident, however when the pressure starts to pile up my brain simply cannot take it and I feel like it’s a volcano about to erupt. This is how I think that my own Lou feels when she experiences meltdowns or ‘Sensory Overloads’ we have brains that can only really process 1 or 2 things at a time and it will explode if too overloaded or pressured. 


A huge rule in my household is that we don’t shout, we want to be calm in front of Lou, to provide a calming environment and model relaxation techniques to help her cope with her brain overloads, when it all just gets too much…

…But this morning I forgot this, this morning I was feeling pressured, I was worried about Moo who isn’t well at the moment and because my children are my priority I am behind in terms of my paperwork, if I don’t have a plan I get confused, I stumble and I waffle it’s like Lou would feel without her visual timetable, Moo was screaming as she wasn’t really wanting to go out into the cold when not well, and I didn’t really want to take her out but Lou needed to get to school. Whilst refusing to put on her school shoes, get her coat on and have her hair tied up I realised that Lou had a load of toothpaste at the bottom of her trouser legs of all places, so with the screaming and refusing still going on and now the dampening on the trousers, something clicked in my head, I forgot to stay calm, I forgot to not give Lou direct demands, and I lost it 😦 I shouted 😦 

My ‘head was red’ as Lou would call it. 

Enough is enough… 

… something needs to give, I need to except that I am a mummy first and foremost, my 2 young and lively children need their Mummy to be on top form, they don’t need a nervous, paranoid and anxious mess. They don’t need a Mummy who finds it necessary to clean the house everyday as she believes that it is too messy, which is clearly a coping mechanism, that I have control over something and this is diverting my stress out. 

They need and they want a Mummy that plays with them and doesn’t feel that she should always be doing something else. 

Today Mummy took a step back and said enough is enough, because in order to be strong for my 2 children, I need to look after myself… 

This is an idea of why my brain currently feels like too much is going on…

~ Lou’s ‘Umberella Pathway’ assessment process has begun – an assessment for ASD. 

~ It’s parents evening tonight – lots of listening for me that I find difficult to take it, worrying that everything is ok with Lou. 

~ Paperwork for my music sessions and battling an anxiety of ‘performing’ in front of a crowd of people.’ (This didn’t effect me 6 months ago.) 

~ Ongoing pain in my back – since July 2016, to which I’ve now said that I need to seek advice from a private Physio, a constant worry that it will effect my future job prospects. 

~ My own adult assessment – being referred back in December ’16 and not hearing anything since. 

~ Tiles keep falling off my bathroom wall and the agency I pay rent to don’t seem bothered ! My oven won’t work due to it tripping the electrics every time it is turned on! 

~ A constant worry that I’ve upset someone, I’ve said/done something wrong in a social situation, I’ve offended anyone, a wish that I could read people but my brain is wired in such a way that I find people and social situations hard to read. 

~ A battle inside my head everyday in terms of Lou, for example, she coped ever so well during a recent birthday party, (I’m so pleased she enjoyed it,) apart from a sudden unexpected sound of bubble wrapping popping, but soon recovered. So I sit there thinking, “she’s fine,” maybe we’ll see a change, yet once reaching home she had a huge meltdown, as she’d obviously held in her overloads during the party. 

For the time being I’m going to be a Mummy and carry on blogging when my girls are tucked up in bed, I cannot lose my blog, it is my therapy where I write so that thoughts and worries no longer bounce around in my head, people will either read these posts or not, they may help someone or not, but I will carry on doing them as blogging doesn’t make me stressed 🙂 

To some people, these things that are going on in my brain may see trivial, some may say “she’s got nothing to stress about,” but as my mum has always told me: “You are you, you are not other people, and other people cope with things differently.” 

Part of my problem is that I find it difficult to cope with a lot going on and have such a low ability to cope with pain, and stress, which I think is something to do with me being such a highly sensitive individual, I am learning to tell myself that every single person has a different level of coping and trying to tell myself not to be afraid of admitting that I’m struggling… 

… I simply cannot pretend or mask to be someone I’m not… 

… I cannot help the way my brain is wired no matter how much I pretend, or practice or copy others. 

Thanks for reading 🙂 

Ofsted’s latest focus

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A recent report by Ofsted (The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills,) was recently brought to my attention. This report is titled: ‘Unknown children – destined for disadvantage?’ (Published July 2016.)

After going through several Ofsted Inspections in a variety of settings, I am aware that Ofsted have varying ‘focuses’ to base their inspections on, not the whole inspection, but some aspect(s) that they like to focus on such, such as multicultural experiences, writing in boys, inclusion, and so forth.

Reading through this report, something just didn’t sit right with me, especially the term ‘disadvantaged.’ In this time of statistics, tick boxes and figures I thought to myself what if families didn’t fit into this box or category? What if there are exceptions to the rule? Take my own family for example:

  • We live in a council house – I’m not ashamed of this, our rented house was sold unexpectedly and we had to ensure that with a young toddler and baby on the way that we had a stable home, we couldn’t afford to buy or rent another house at that time. With only 1 adult in the household working, it was very difficult to find the money.
  • Our household not only has 1 adult currently working full time, it is seen as a ‘low income.’
  • My partner has moderate learning difficulties and very severe Dyslexia, making opportunities for higher paid roles extremely difficult.
  • I have a level 6 qualification, degree and postgraduate certificate but I have been unable to work full time since my eldest child was 2 years old, and since I’ve had my 2nd child.
  • I provide my children with the best possible experiences at home I can, such as craft activities, I read with the everyday and interact with them and ensure that they are well-cared for. I am fully involved in the process for assessments for my eldest child, I identified her additional needs at 18-months-old and sought advice and support, (even though not always believed!) I will be proactive and fully involved in the education of my youngest child also, attributing this to 13 year’s education experience.
  • We are parents, both offer our children different areas of knowledge, for example, their father is very practical and teaches the children how to construct, build and fix things, whereas I can’t even put a flat pack together!

Would Ofsted therefore class my children as ‘disadvantaged?’

I was relieved to read that as part of the Key findings: “While all of the local authorities, pre-school providers and schools visited could define disadvantage in terms of a family’s finances, the most effective went beyond this basic definition.” 

I am therefore relieved to know that not every setting based the definition of ‘disadvantaged’ purely upon a family’s income. But is this immediately what comes to everyone’s mind when the term is discussed?

Another interesting Key Finding was:

“There is a lack of understanding of what success looks like in tackling disadvantage.” 

How can ‘disadvantage’ therefore be tackled if the family’s sole earner is working to their best ability? Working sometimes a 60-day week but is still paid minimum wage due to their own experiences of education? I have tried to teach my partner to help him access courses to enable him to overcome issues with getting further up the career ladder, we are extremely busy people and we have a child who has additional needs who needs constant supervision at home. I have tried to help him gain access to college courses or courses run by local libraries but these are always run in hours of the working week and he has to be at work to earn the money! It is truly a viscous cycle!

2 Year funding: 

In the report there is a wide variety of what various Early Years Settings class as ‘disadvantaged children,’ such as:

  • Children who are eligible for 2-year Government funding.
  • Children who live in households that receive tax credits, income support, other benefits.
  • Children in receipt of free school meals (which I do find confusing as currently all children receive free school meals until the end of year 2!
  • ‘Poor’ education and health experiences.
  • Children who have witnessed domestic violence, or live in households where one or both parents have been identified as ‘addicts,’ either drug or alcohol related.

The follow statement unnerved me a great deal:

“These settings did not consider children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, children who speak English as an additional language or summer-born children as also being disadvantaged.” 

Why should children with additional needs (as i like to refer to,) or who are ‘summer – borns’ be classified as ‘disadvantaged? When there are always, always exceptions to these circumstances?

The following key point I did find alarming:

“One pre-school setting attached to a children’s centre had an agreed policy about the circumstances in which a child and their family would be regarded as ‘at a disadvantage’. This included children who were:

 showing poor speech and language for their age and stage of development

 being looked after by someone other than their parents, such as grandparents

 those whose family was known to be involved in crime

 those who had young or teenage parents

 those who had older siblings with a wide age gap between them.” 

Again, there are always exceptions to these, such as I wouldn’t see children who have an older sibling with an wide age gap as ‘disadvantaged,’ as there are indeed many families where this is a huge advantage. I also wouldn’t also assume that young or teenage parents’` children are ‘disadvantaged’ as I know some fantastic younger parents.

In terms of the Government ‘2 year old funding,’ our youngest child is due to start at a early year’s setting in April 2017, at the moment, and looking at our household income, it seems that she will be eligible for 2 year funding, however, would Ofsted then class her as a disadvantaged child? When I gain employment and we are no longer eligible for the funding will my child then become ‘advantaged?’ If  we won the lottery bought a house, had 2 adults with a full time income, more money in household, would this mean that my family would automatically not be seen as ‘disadvantaged’ anymore?

money-quote-margaet-thatcher

The county where we live sees ‘vulnerable learners’ are those summer born, developmental delay, come from split or large families, GRT (Gypsy, Roma, Travellers,) but again, I would always argue that there are always exceptions to these ‘rules.’

I get extremely confused by definitions and labels, I was told by the Strategic Commissioner for Early Help & Partnerships at Worcestershire County Council, on behalf of Cllr Bayliss (The Cabinet member responsible for Children and Families,) that we had “received our package of support,” in terms of Early Help Family Support, time and time again I have been told that they are now focusing on ‘targeted families,’ but what are targeted families? If my family is seen as ‘disadvantaged’ is this the same as a targeted family?!? The mind boggles!

 

 

My message in reflection is clear:

Dear Ofsted,

Please think carefully about the definitions that are used in your reports, please don’t tar everyone with the same brush, there are many diversions and exceptions to the rule of what you class as ‘disadvantaged.’ For example, please do not assume that because a family have a low income that the children will be less cared for or interacted with that those families that earn a moderate or high wage. Please don’t make this about money or class.

value-no-money-quote

 

All quotes used in this post have been taken from:

‘Unknown children – destined for disadvantage?’ (Published July 2016.)

Age group: 0–5 Published: July 2016 Reference no: 160044

which can be found online at:

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

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Our Experiences of Therapy

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In the ‘Calm Area.’

Play Therapy.

This time last year my daughter, Amber was still without an official diagnosis, we knew that she was a huge ‘Sensory Seeker,’ and I had noticed from an early age that she struggled with ‘purposeful play,’ even to this day, (at almost 5 years old,) and even though we provide her with a variety of toys and resources, she has difficulty in using them for story enacting, for example, she prefers to line her dolls up, rather than to come up with a situation or characters for them.

In April 2016, Amber was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD,) around the same time I was introduced to a local therapy centre where hourly sessions of ‘Play Therapy’ were offered on a 1:1 basis with a SEN teacher, these sessions also welcomed parents to get involved with the activities on offer. The staff at the centre collected information about Amber’s current interests and ask for any problem area that we were experiencing at home, after each session the staff asked Amber what activities she would like to do in the next session and I really liked how child-centred this was. Amber also had her own visual choice board, where she could see the activities on offer and chose which activity she’d like to do 1st, 2nd and so forth. I explained that one of the areas that we were working on at home was eating, as Amber was only eating the same foods every day, such as breadsticks and toast, she tended to stick to the beige and dry foods. I also explained about what I had observed in terms of purposeful play at home and I shared Amber’s love of any messy/sensory activities as she was a huge sensory seeker and thrived on these type of activities.

I read that:

“Play therapy is generally employed with children aged 3 through 11 and provides a way for them to express their experiences and feelings through a natural, self-guided, self-healing process. As children’s experiences and knowledge are often communicated through play, it becomes an important vehicle for them to know and accept themselves and others. This approach is common to young children.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_therapy

Over the 15 sessions that Amber had we, as parents, saw a great deal of progress in Amber’s confidence to select new resources, at first she wanted to try out every single activity in the sensory room, and would often flit between activities and rooms. The therapy centre has 2 main cabins that house a sensory room and music therapy room, there is also a sensory garden that houses a chicken coup and their very own named pet chickens! The staff also have access to rooms for occupational therapy and a purpose-built room for cooking. We also noticed an improvement in Amber’s concentration and purposeful play, especially with small-world play and she developed an interest in playing ‘shops,’ which she has carried on to the present day.

Amber experienced a wealth of activities during her time at the centre, these included:

  • Messy Play – shaving foam in the water tray and hand and feet painting.
  • Moveable and mouldable sand.
  • Sensory room exploration – bubbles tubes, light changing wall, fibre optics and the ‘snug’ enclosed area.
  • ‘Magic Carpet,’ where images such as an interactive fish pond are projected onto the mat on the floor and moves when the children touch it.
  • ‘Small World’ play – with a large dolls house, farm buildings.
  • Use of the music room – exploring multicultural instruments such as African Drums.
  • Physical outdoor activities – such as balls and hoops, to help support perseverance.
  • Feeding chickens and interacting with them in their enclosure.
  • Creative story telling – using story sacks, e.g. retelling the story ‘Room on the Broom.’
  • Cooking sessions – making cookies, and staff even found a specific dairy free recipe in light of Amber’s dairy allergy.
  • Making sensory playdough.

 

We hope to continue to take Amber to the ‘Play Centre,’ (as she has named it,) as they also provide clubs in the school holidays, such as messy play club, dance club and gardening club.

I previously wrote a post dedicated to the specific centre that Amber attends, please find this in the link below:

smile-centre-malvern

 

Relaxation Therapy. 

Amber started an intervention at school in September 2016, when an outside agency comes to deliver relaxation 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

 

Amber’s sensory processing difficulties and anxiety can manifest themselves though her displaying frustration, at home especially, (where she feels most comfortable to release the tensions and frustrations,) 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 Amber has been taught in her relation sessions at school.

This may be to ask Amber to lie flat onto the floor with a teddy on her tummy and count to 10, whilst breathing slowly in an out. We have also taught Amber to “smell the flower, and blow out the candle,” for a technique to help calm her. The most recent one she 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 this at home.

 

Thanks for reading 🙂

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My friend ‘Izzie’ ~ our experiences with an imaginary friend

This is Lou’s drawing of her friend ‘Izzie’
I am aware that many young children have an ‘imaginary friend.’ Wikipedia describes an imaginary friend as:

“Psychological phenomenon where a friendship or other interpersonal relationship takes place in the imagination rather than external physical reality.” Source: www.wikipedia.org

I always thought that imaginary friends were common for Pre-School-aged children, but researching further I’ve read that:

“By age seven, 65% of children have had an imaginary companion at some point.” Source www.todaysparent.com

This gave me some reassurance as Lou has only just introduced us to her ‘friend’ called ‘Izzie.’ When she first mentioned a girl called ‘Izzie,’ I thought that it was a member of her class and then I discovered that there was nobody in the class with that name and then ‘Izzie’ started arriving at our house, and the penny dropped!

From what I can gather, Izzie is a 4-year-old girl, just like Lou who “spits at her Mummy and Daddy.” I soon came to realise that Izzie would do a lot of negative things like “push her little sister over” and “not listen to her Mummy, or Daddy.” I build a picture up that Izzie was in fact a sort of persona of Lou’s behaviour that she didn’t like to admit to. If anything went wrong, such as a toy got broken, Lou would quickly say: “It was Izzie’s fault.” Lou has never been able to admit that she has done something such speaking to me in a rude manner, however, she is able to freely admit that Izzie is a culprit for a lot of these negative behaviours.

I spoke to a few other parents, as I seek a lot of reassurance via parenting forums, especially those for parents of children with additional needs, and a forum for parents who children have been diagnosed, or shows traits of PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance,) and I soon realised that many children use an imaginary friend or comfort item/toy to scapegoat their own behaviours. This is maybe a side of Lou that does display that she has a very good imagination, 

“there are numerous informal as well as some scientific reports of children and adults with high functioning Autism having an imaginary friend (eg. Attwood, 2006; Calver, 2009; Holliday Willey, 2011.)

“Research in this area may challenge the view that high functioning autistic individuals are not very imaginative, and reduce the common misconception that having an imaginary companion is necessarily linked with mental health issues.” Source: www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk

I don’t think that ‘Izzie’ makes an appearance whilst Lou is at school, she must be occupied with the children in her class, but I have noticed that Izzie does appear more during school holidays, it must be a strange concept for young children to be surrounded by other children all term time then suddenly not during the holidays and she only has Moo at home for company, who hasn’t reached the same level of conversation just yet!
I don’t think that Lou is lonely, possibly more during the holidays as she is a social butterfly, if a little ‘too in-your-face’ sometimes! (Bless her,) She has more social skills and confidence (or outwardly appears to,) than I did as a child. I had an imaginary friend called ‘Tinkerbelle’ when I was 3 and she was there as a companion for me as I can remember feeling lonely and never quite fitting in with the crowd, invented Tinkerbelle as I was so unsure of how to make my own friends or how to even talk to other people.

I’ve had this sketch of ‘Tink’ for 10+ years after my sister brought it back from Disney Land in Florida.

I don’t think that ‘Izzie’ being around is anything too much to worry about at this point, however, I do not openly talk about her unless Lou brings her up in passing conversation and keep it very light, e.g. I saw that Lou had got out her ‘spinning’ chair into the middle of the room and she said: “There you go Izzie,” and addressed me: “Mummy, be careful, don’t sit on the chair, Izzie’s sat there,” to which I replied: “Oh is she? Ok then.” 

Thanks for reading 🙂 



Spectrum Sunday</div