Sensory

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Sensory starts with the senses.
Hearing, Seeing, Touching, Tasting and Smelling.

For most people those traditional 5 senses help you in your everyday life and often go unnoticed.

(Most of us are familiar with the 5 senses, but we also have 2 other senses that are less well known: these are the sense of movement (vestibular sense) and the sense of body awareness (proprioception). I’ll have to write a separate post about those, or I’ll end up writing a book! But I encourage you to google and check them out if you’re unfamiliar!)

Some things you may not really notice are things like the fan in the corner of the room, the light above your head, the tag on the inside of your shirt, the gum your chewing or the candle your burning in the other room. You know they’re there… but they are JUST there. They don’t bother you or disrupt your daily life.

Then they can also be so much more than that.
A single smell can take you to a specific memory.
A single taste can make you reminiscent of old times.
A single song can send a tingle up your spine…
And a single picture can make your heart break or swell with love.

For people on the Autism Spectrum… those senses can be much, much more intense. Both in a good way and in a not so good way.

My three boys and I have sensory issues.
There are generally two types… Sensory Seekers and Sensory Avoiders.

People don’t have to be one or the other either, you can be both in different areas. Seeking smells but shying away from noises, etc.

I LOVE compressions… I actually like people laying on me. Weird, I know. I love the feeling of pressure on me. When I was a kid we had that game called “dog pile”. I loved that game. I loved the feeling of the all over pressure on my body (back then I didn’t know why… it wasn’t until this past year that I’ve realized I’m on the spectrum). My boys are the same way. They love tight bear hugs and weighted blankets. So that would be a “Sensory Seeking” behavior.

I HATE certain fruits and vegetables. My boys are the same way. We tend to love crunch carbs (all three of us). So, the crunchy aspect would be a Sensory Seeking Behavior and then not liking the fruits and veggies would be a Sensory Avoiding behavior. I don’t like the insides of pickles or cucumbers. I don’t like tomatoes… I can’t stand the consistency of them. It literally makes my skin crawl! Jaxson and Tyler seem to be the same way, where Justin is a little more accepting of different textures as far as food goes. Clothes- Tyler and I HATE the feeling of wearing clothes when we’re hot and sweaty. It doesn’t bother Justin at all. I cannot STAND the feeling of saltwater on my body… I feel sticky and gross, but it doesn’t seem to bother the kids.

So just because someone has an issue with one texture, doesn’t mean it’s all textures or all people on the spectrum.

Sensory also can be a HUGE contributing factor in behaviors like meltdowns. The way I like to look at meltdowns are like building blocks… the higher the blocks go, the closer they are to falling over. So we start with one block – the lights above your head can seem much brighter to those on the spectrum and might make them squint or hurt their heads. Two blocks – the noise level around them can seem much louder, so they can’t concentrate or hear you over the noise. It also might hurt their head/ears. Three blocks – the perfume or cologne someone is wearing can seem way way too strong. I can’t even walk through the perfume area in a store, I have to walk around or hold my breath. It’s like I can smell ALL of them way too much and it’s overwhelming. Some people may even gag (like if you took a big ol’ whiff of your garbage). Four blocks – if the temperature is too hot or too cold… you might not need a jacket but to someone on the spectrum it feels like they’re freezing. Or you might only need to wear shorts to help with the slight rise in temperature where someone on the spectrum feels like it’s scorching. Five blocks – the tag on the inside of their shirt or the seem on the inside of their sock feels like its rubbing their skin raw. Six blocks – maybe their blood sugar is low because they didn’t eat breakfast… and now they feel like they’re going to pass out when you might just feel like you’re hungry. Seven blocks – maybe they’re nonverbal or “pre-verbal” but still can’t communicate their wants and needs… so the language barrier makes it hard to explain how they feel.

Depending on the severity of any of those (or other) sensory factors… or any frustrations that’s happening or has happened before hand, could make the tower topple.

Sometimes Sensory Seekers just enjoy certain things… One of my boys LOVES the feel of silk. So if I leave my bra out, I’ve caught him rubbing it on his cheek. Or his weighted blanket has a minky side… he’ll just run his hands up and down the blanket for half an hour. Tyler loves sand (the one who has the BIGGEST issues with food textures)… he will sit and play in sand for HOURS. Tyler also seeks noise… we went to an Autism Awareness event where they had those HUGE speakers, and he practically ran over and put his ear on it while it was playing music!

But sometimes Sensory Seekers brains or bodies tell them that they’re not getting enough of something, which makes them crave certain things or may end up in behaviors. There’s a common phrase passed around the Autism Community and it’s absolutely true. “Every behavior has a reason.” Some people have problems sitting still. I can sit through a whole movie that I’m really into with no problems at all… but then I went to a Wrightslaw Conference and after about 45 minutes I was jiggling my leg, flicking my hands, tapping my pencil… anything I could do to help my body calm down. As soon as I was able to stand up (we had a break), I bounced on my toes a bit, shook out my arms and I was totally fine again. I sat down feeling “normal”. But after another 45 minutes my skin began to crawl again. And it wasn’t like I wasn’t interested in what the speaker was saying! I LOVED it! I wanted to hear everything, which is why I didn’t just stand up and take a break. Not that I could completely concentrate while feeling like that anyway.

For some reason my body told me I needed to get up and move. I explain it like you have to pee. When you drink way too much… and really really REALLY need to go, that you’re dancing around, twisting your legs, NEEDING to go to the bathroom, but you have to wait… when you FINALLY get to go it’s one of those “ahhhhh” moments. Everything is okay again. That ahhhh moment for us is being able to get up and walk around again… to move. Make sense?

So when I see Tyler (and even Justin gets that way, though he’s not as “bad”), when he starts bouncing around like crazy or climbing or getting angry and upset, I try to find ways to help his body and his brain get back to “normal”. Each kid is different, and each technique won’t work on everyone. Some things I use with my kids are joint compressions, bear hugs (but some kids don’t like to be restrained so short hugs for a second or two over and over can be better than squeezing them for a longer period of time), brushing, weighted objects like blankets, toys, lap pads. Trampolines are AWESOME, we have a mini one that is kept in our living room. Therapy swings can help… tickle monster (until you think they might pee their pants!!). Swimming. Climbing… Depending on the circumstance and area you’re in some of these can be more discreet than others to help in classrooms.

There is just SO much of our lives that is affected by sensory, ESPECIALLY in the Autism Community, that I could go on and on and on. And believe me… I really could, I tend to be a bit wordy. But one of the main things you need to do is figure out where you or your kids or grandkids or students, are either sensory seeking or sensory avoiding and help them either avoid or get the input that they need in order to FEEL “normal”. So that they can do what they need to do. It’s not always easy, but once you figure it out, it can make things like: trips to the store easier. You’ll know – okay the lights are too bright – they can wear sunglasses. The people and noise are just way too much for them, we can buy noise cancelling headphones. They are CLIMBING the walls and won’t sit down to do this puzzle with me, let’s do 10 minutes on the trampoline first so that they’ll be able to focus. You can’t sit at your desk and do… whatever you do for longer than 45 minutes, let your boss know what’s going on… take a 3-5 minute break, go to the bathroom jump like crazy and then go sit back down.

“Knowledge is power.”

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Young Living Essential Oil Review

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I “met” an amazing woman online through the nutritionist we’re seeing for Jaxson. She’s been talking to me about her journey with Autism and how much her son has benefited from using these oils. At first I’m thinking, well.. that’s awesome that they worked for you… but come on… really? They’re just smelly things. How much can they REALLY help you. I was a skeptic for sure!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trying new things to help with my kids! But these oils were just so foreign to me. I’ve heard of them before… I’ve thought about trying them… but I mean… how do you even use them?! Do you drink it? Is it like lotion you rub on your hands… I don’t know, it seemed a little weird to me.

So I was obviously happy for her and her family, and maybe someday I’ll have time to learn more about them.

Then one night, Jax and I had one of the worst nights we’ve had in a long while, when she sent me a message. NO strings attached, she just wanted to help a Mom in need and asked if she could send me something to help with sleep and something to help with my anxiety. I agreed and she sent me a “bedtime” mixture and one called Valor.

The Bedtime mixture didn’t really seem to help with Jaxson, but I… no joke… have been able to decrease the amount of melatonin I give Tyler and most nights don’t even give any to Justin. I just put this oil on the bottom of his feet and rub it in when I lay the boys down in their beds with their tablets. About half an hour before I want them to actually go to sleep. Both of the kids who HATE (with a PASSION) me cutting their toe nails giggle while I rub it into the bottom of their feet. 🙂 They’ll see me walk in their room with the little bottle and start grinning because they know what’s coming.

The first night that they did well with it, I’m like… no way. This is sooo not happening. lol Really? This stuff is actually working? But it did, and it still continues to work. My friend thinks Jax would probably benefit from just Lavander (rather than the mixture), so we’ll probably try that eventually. 🙂

I’ve been using the Valor.
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To help with anxiety and stress… and later found out it also helps with my migraines, TMJ and will also help calm the boys. I use it when I’m overwhelmed, it’s like I can finally take a deep breath and the tension I had in my shoulders melt a bit. It’s crazy. I was in SERIOUS pain because of my jaw, I rubbed a drop behind my jaw/ears area and a few minutes later, I’m not in pain any more. Where I would have to wait for 30-45 minutes for the Tylenol and Naproxen to kick in! Again, I’m just like…. how did that even work?! lol I don’t get this stuff at all. It just makes no sense. It’s oils from plants/flowers/herbs, etc… and it’s fixing things. Totally mind blowing.


And I have SEVERE issues with oily or lotion-y things. I cannot stand it. But these “oils” absorb into your skin pretty quickly and then your skin is just soft. It doesn’t feel like there’s oil or lotion on your hands. (Thankfully… I might have gone crazy trying to use these things! lol)

I used Valor on Jaxson, my little busy body… (A little back story) As soon as he could roll over (about 3-4 months) he’s never wanted to sit with me any more. Not more than a minute or two… Unless I was feeding him a bottle, then when he could hold it himself, he REALLY wanted his own space.

So for at least the last year, Jax has only sat or laid with me (without interruption) for a few minutes max. And usually that was for however long I could get him to sit and play Patty Cakes with me.

I put the oil Valor on him… And about 5-10 minutes later he came over, crawled up on me and laid on me for a little over 15 minutes. I have not held Jax for that long, at one time, in over a year.

That alone has made me thankful for this product.


Then she asks me about some of my other issues. Like my thyroid issues, brain fog… and since Valor alone didn’t seem to help Tyler as well in school as we hoped, she said there was something she could send to help. I’m not great at letting people help me. Honestly, I prefer to be the one helping others. But I justificated that at least it’ll be a learning experience I’ll be able to share with you so you’ll know if these will help you or your family.

Again, just sending them because she’s a Special Needs Mom who gets it and wants to pay it forward. And man… am I thankful she did.

She sent me Clarity (for brain fog), Endo-Flex to help with my Hypothyroidism and Vetiver to help with Tyler. Again… totally skeptical. lol I’m like… yea… okay, the others worked, but they can’t ALL work.

I used the Clarity, Endo-Flex and Valor first thing in the morning  around my face/neck areas. And WHOAH! lol That was way too much… totally overwhelming. lol But after I started putting them in different spots on my body (that work just as well), it doesn’t bother me to use all three at the same time.

Clarity.
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It kind of wakes me up. It’s not AS effective as caffeine (maybe because I need to take so much), but the fact that it doesn’t have any and it helps wake me up, says a lot! Plus, I don’t get jittery if I end up taking too much. lol I was really surprised how awake and clear headed I feel when I use it.


Endo-Flex.
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I’ve been using every morning for a few days now… and I can TELL it’s working. When I’m on my thyroid meds, I get hungry. Because my metabolism is working. Being off my meds for over a year now, I completely forgot how that hungry feeling when my thyroid and metabolism is working… and after two days, I started having that hungry feeling again. It’s insane!!


And even after all those times that those oils have helped… I was still surprised when I used the Valor and Vetiver on Tyler.
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He was BOUNCING off the walls because he was bored. Singing the songs on his VERY loud tablet. Finally I gave him his head phones to help my migraine from getting worse… but HE was still loud. As a ditch effort I used the two oils together and about 5-10 minutes later… he just kind of sat down on the couch and was QUIET for 30-45 minutes… then he came out, asked for a drink, and went back in and hung out in his swing. :O WHAT?! I’m looking at him like… what just happened?!?! lol No freaking WAY did those just help him calm down. I didn’t get a chance to see how they work with him going to school, which is why we are -primarily- using them with Ty. To help with his meltdowns at school… to help keep him calm and focused throughout the day. But he’s been sick this week and hasn’t gone to school. So, I’m excited to see how well it helps with him there when he needs it most.


I get how this stuff works, but I really don’t. I just cannot grasp the concept of how these oils work, but I don’t need to REALLY understand something in order to know how much they’re helping out family. (I KIND OF know how a car works, what the parts do… but I don’t REALLY know… but that doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for having one that works lol)

I’m REALLY looking forward to buying some from her and finding new great ways to use them with my family and around the house. Justin has Type 1 Diabetes and theres an oil to help with that!! Or for the boys Dad. He was in a VERY bad car accident almost two years ago (he broke almost everything on his right side) and there are oils that will help him with his pain! 😀

I’m really super sensitive to smells… I don’t use candles and I don’t wear perfume, and I’m surprised how much these don’t bother me. If one does seem to bother me, I just make sure to use it in an area farther away from my face and wash my hands afterwards.

Justin, Tyler and Jax all have sensory issues and none of them seem bothered by the smells either. 🙂

If you’ve made it this far lol I’ve found some pictures online of some of the oils Young Living offers and what they help with to see if there might be an oil that could help you or your family. And hey… don’t knock it until you try it. 😉 (I know there are a lot of pictures, but I’m a more visual person, and I know I’m not the only one! lol) 😀

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GripCase Review

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Gripcase USA sent us an iPad mini case to review! 😀

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They’re actually really cool cases.
They’re made of a foam type material, it’s extremely light weight and easy to hold onto.

The design and material make it REALLY shock absorbent. It’s even slightly concave so if it gets dropped with the screen face down it doesn’t actually touch the ground.

I had Ty take it to school- he looked at it like “Uhhhh what did you do to my tablet”?? Lol since we’ve been using the same type case for 3 years now.

And actually the second day he took it out of the case, handed it to me and then handed me his old case. Lol !!!

That’s actually the only “bad” thing I can say about this case, is that although it IS easy to get the tablet in the case, it’s actually pretty easy to get back out.

So if your kid is determined enough, they’ll get it out (so I wouldn’t let them see you put it in or take it out of the case). I think the company should make the sides that keep the iPad in the case a little wider to make it harder to get out. But I get it, you don’t want to make it so hard you damage the iPad getting it back out! Lol

I threw it on the bed a few times, dropped it on the floor and even threw it at the couch pretty hard and it never popped out of the case, so it’s not going to just fall out. Lol

Considering, it’s a pretty cool case!!! 😀
If you’d like to check out their page, click here.  😀

#Autism #iPad #GripCase
#TabletCase

Beginning our journey with PEC cards

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#ItHasBegun!

So, way before I learned about PEC (picture exchange communication) cards, I used to print out and laminate characters from the boys favorite shows and movies (to stop them from destroying our DVDs).

Then we decided to try PEC cards, but Tyler would get violent and angry because he didn’t understand why I would take them back (exchange the card for item) and not let him keep them (like his others).

He was a lot younger and didn’t have the understanding he has now.

We’ve tried a few times in the past, tried AAC apps or PEC apps on our tablets, but the kids knew that they could just back out if it and watch their movies. And if I tried to lock it onto that screen -more screaming Bc they didn’t understand why I wasn’t allowing them to do what they’ve always done with their tablets. So we decided we needed to get an AAC device, where it’s sole function was to help communicate. Then we found out how much they are and how hard it is to get them.

After another year that’s gone by, it’s been about a year since I’ve printed out and “friends” for Ty, and he’s actually collecting pictures of his characters by asking me to take screen shots when he pauses his movies. Then looks through them in the gallery. Lol

The teachers at school are using PEC cards to help them transition and to see what’s happening next… But because Tyler is still technically nonverbal, he’s having meltdowns at school due to communication issues.

He might have to be moved to another class where he won’t be so much of a danger to other kids (because he isn’t aware of who he might hurt when he’s having one).

But he loves his class and is doing amazing things like freaking division!

SO!!! I decided to try PEC cards here at the house to reinforce what he’s already learning at school and pray it helps him catch on quicker and use these cards to communicate instead of getting increasingly frustrated and ending up in a meltdown.

His teacher is working on a schedule for me like they use in school, and I started printing out some random things he eats or can ask for here at the house.

I’m also using them with Justin. Lol I brought him over to the fridge and asked him “which one” which is a cue phrase he understands. And instead of taking it off the fridge and handing it to me, he pushes on it like he would it if we’re a tablet. Lol 😀 (More of a reason I believe an AAC device will be great with him once we can be approved for one).

So here our journey with PEC cards begin! 🙂
SO far, Ty HAS tried to take off with the cards, BUT…. He was okay with giving them back and putting them where they belong. 🙂 he likes going over and looking at them all. Lol

A special shout out to Dancing with Autism! She sent me the templates for the PEC cards. 🙂
https://m.facebook.com/ourdancewithautism

#Autism
#Communication
#Nonverbal

GizmoPal Update

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It’s been about a month since we started using the #GizmoPal #GPS #KidsWatch and I thought I’d do an update! 🙂

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When we first tried them with the boys, Justin loved his! but Tyler couldn’t stand wearing it. He wouldn’t allow it to be on for more than a minute or two and that was with massive redirection.

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I finally realized how to fix the problem and help him keep the watch on! You can read that here.

But the short version is: I stopped trying to make him wear it inside and made it a routine that when we leave the house, it goes on (since that’s when he’ll be wearing it anyway).

After that light bulb moment, it’s been all down hill since.

He progressively got better and better about keeping it on longer and longer without wanting it off.

We are in the second week of school and both of the boys teachers tell me that they both keep their watches on the whole time they’re at school, with a few exceptions. If they get sweaty from running around outside, they’ll take them off for a little bit but then put it back on once they’re not sweaty any more. 🙂   (I’m the same way)

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And I have tried out the GPS before, but I actually really got to use it yesterday. The bus was later than I was expecting… I needed to get Jaxson up from his nap, but I didn’t want to take a chance that I’d be in the middle of a diaper change as the bus pulled up (it’s happened).

After about 10 minutes standing at the window, getting frustrated… I realized he was wearing his watch! Duh!

Checked with my phone app where he was and saw he was only a minute or two from home. So I waited outside and sure enough a minute or two later and the bus pulls up! 😀

So considering we were able to put the watches on our phone account (we didn’t have to pay all of it up front), and the kids have adjusted well, I give it a 8/10.

With a few things like making the band bigger (not sure it’ll fit Justin next year), and making it also harder to get off could make up for points lost. 😉

If you want to check out the watch online, here’s the link.

Dear Mom

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I wanted to let you know that autism isn’t because of bad parenting.

We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in our relationship. We’ve said a lot of mean things to each other.

But using Autism as an insult isn’t cool. I saw those comments on Facebook about my parenting, after we moved 2,000 miles away.

The ones where you said that my kids don’t even have Autism… I’m using it as an excuse for lazy parenting. Or if they do, it’s because I let them watch too much TV or it’s a result of being a bad mother. Along with a few other things you were saying to my now Ex-childhood best friend, who also doesn’t care to understand my kids with Autism.

I believe Autism is genetic. Thanks to the boys diagnosis, taking tests online, and talking to other women on the spectrum, I’ve come to identify as Autistic (and pray someday to get an official DX). Then, after I allowed my resentment towards you to diminish… I started seeing the traits in you. Which may be part of the reason we constantly bumped heads. Neither of us communicates well.

I see those pictures of you with your “other” grandson. The “normal” one… Who talks… Who eats what you eat, who knows what you’re saying, who plays with toys appropriately.

I feel bad for you. That you chose not to get to know and understand your three amazing (biological) grandchildren. They might take longer to “figure out”, but once you do… The love and excitement flowing from them is amazing and contagious.

But the reason I’m here today is to tell you… And hope you understand or try to; is that Autism, is NOT caused by bad parenting. It is NOT caused by watching too much TV, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. They are not just bad kids who need more discipline. These are a few things in the Autism Community that we have to fight against constantly… Being judged and looked down upon because our kids are different.

What you may see as bad parenting, isn’t bad… It’s different. Because my boys are different and need a different way of learning. Like so many other people out there, you’re unwelcoming to different. You think, it’s different so there must be something wrong.

My boys don’t learn from reading books, or flash cards… No matter how hard I tried. Once I let go of that “normal” way of teaching, Tyler started talking and Justin started understanding more.

My children are happy, they’re thriving, they’re growing and progressing…

And honestly, with all the research I’m constantly doing, IEP meetings, therapies, etc… If I wanted to be a lazy parent, I wouldn’t have picked Autism to blame it on.

-Your Daughter