Monday, 19 November 2012

Aspergers and Puberty

At the moment Autism is consuming our lives. Hence the lack of blogging for a little while. Sometimes it does that.You can be going along hunky dory then wham bam , you suddenly hit an unexpected blip! Puberty has been like that. We thought we had it sorted and then suddenly out of nowhere we had agoraphobia, anxiety, lack of eating and now inability to sleep.Actually, that's not quite true. Over the past two weeks my son has fallen asleep at 5.00am and slept until about 4.00pm every day.

On the bright side,he is sleeping on the sofa so we get a better nights sleep, also as I'm home educating  then he doesn't have to go to school in the morning. Other than that there isn't a lot of bright side. I'm stuck at home most days unable to go anywhere and when I do go out there is a battle to wake him up and go out the door so there is little incentive to do so.Offers of bowling and the zoo have both been turned down this week and my son has managed to go out once after much cajoling.
We have decided in the short term to go with the flow. I'm obviously worried about him and that this will spiral due to lack of exercise and going out but I have little faith in those that are supposed to help us in the NHS. A friend with a child with similar sleep problems has just told me that the local CAMHS have no staff. They are ringing people on the waiting list to see if they still need help as many on the list  'have got better' since they were added to the list. At what expense to their mental well being I hate to think. We really are living in the dark ages as far as mental health goes in Cumbria!

Whilst the disgusting lack of appropriate services continue I choose to get my help and advice from local parents, specialist books and the internet. They are the real experts. It's easy to become overwhelmed when several problems hit at once so you have to create a list of priorities and   we have decided to concentrate on sleep.Having made enquiries and done research we have opted to buy  a weighted blanket from to see if it helps my son sleep. Some parents swear by them. They are not cheap at over £100 however as my son generally walks round swaddled in a smelly old duvet for comfort anyway there is the chance that it just might work.My mum re-read Luke Jacksons Freaks Geeks and Aspergers syndrome and suddenly the chapter on sleep made sense. Luke was unable to sleep until 5.00am and he had school the next day. My son is the same. It's as if he gets sleepy as soon as it begins to get light.

 I've also ordered an Indian head massage book. My son has always loved having his forehead rubbed and I thought it might help. The trouble is I'm not very patient so I'm having to slow down (it feels like I'm coming to a stop sometimes!)

Any way so that's how it is in our house at the moment! If anyone has any inspiration then please feel free to leave a comment. All suggestions welcome! Meanwhile for any of you in the same boat out there I found this link with several suggestions
to help your children sleep and this which suggests they might not. In which case I suggest our children learn as they get older to do their shopping at night and find themselves a night shift!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Insomnia and Aspergers

Last night was the best nights sleep in ages and I feel so guilty as I discovered ,when I awoke, that my son had been up all night because ‘he wasn’t tired’. This was his second night without sleep, the previous night he had finally fallen asleep at 5.00am and I was shattered.
Whilst many autistics are known for their insomnia we have never really had a problem with our son. Obviously home education has helped as there is no school bus to catch in the morning for him. I think if he had been at school we would have been scuppered at the first hurdle but broadly speaking, although he has always gone to bed late (normally around 11.00pm) and then read for about 2 hours it has been one of the times of day when he has actually learned loads!
For some reason though he has    suddenly been unable to sleep and we’re not sure why. He doesn’t seem worried or stressed   and he doesn’t seem to have an obsession so I’m not sure if this is a short  term thing or if were in it for the long haul. Puberty has certainly hit hard and we are dealing with a whole load of new problems.
In fact despite my guilt at being asleep whilst   my son whiled away the midnight hours  watching television, in fact he tells me that he watched a historical film called Letters to IWO JIMA and a National Geographic programme about France in addition to playing mine craft on the computer. He then proceeded to sleep until 4.00pm today after falling asleep at 8.00pm.
I’ve googled ‘insomnia and Aspergers’ and found various tips on My Aspergers Child website, like using weighted blankets, drinking chamomile tea before bed, having a lavender bath. It  seems lack of sleep  can be a problem for many children on the spectrum, For us it is simply a new problem to learn from and deal with. Lets just hope we come to grips with it before we all end up living a topsy turvey life style.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

My Daughter ate an Ant today!

Life is about experiencing new things and grabbing opportunities! Most days I ask my children what they learned today? It doesn't have to be an academic or a major life skill it can be as small as trying a new food or learning the name of a flower but it reinforces the message that learning isn't confined to school,neither does it need to be boring, it continues throughout life when you look for it!

I have made a point of writing a blog of three things I see each day:                     
It reminds me that there is  beauty in the smallest of things but so many people miss it each day in the 'busyness' of life. Learning is like that, you don't always realise that you are building up expertise in a subject when you learn sporadically, in bits and pieces.But like a jigsaw the pieces gradually fit together as you realise their relevance to one another!

This week has been half term and as I  look back over the week I can see the learning processes taking place. My daughter went to scout camp last weekend and, on her return, she said that she had discovered she liked eggy fried bread! She set to, under supervision, to make her own lunch in the frying pan and topped the bread with baked beans! Her culinary talents didn't stop there.She made apple crumble, simple toffee and chocolate covered apples for halloween. As I watched her cooking I realised how confident she was becoming and that she would soon be able to cook for herself because she was being allowed freedom of the kitchen.
My older son is already a proficient cook and  made hot dogs for his Rock band when they came round to practice this week, even washed up afterwards. All I need to teach him now is how to wash and iron his own clothes!

My autistic son meanwhile enjoyed the company of his siblings and surprised me by going out on several occasions during the week.Not to anywhere special  just to Morrisons cafe, Macdonalds and into town but for him with his sensory issues it was an enormous feat. He even managed to go round the village trick or treating on halloween. He put the lack of panic attacks down to the fact that he was supported by his sister or friend on each occasion. it was lovely to see how proud he was! One of our purchases in town was The Wimpy kid book 'The ugly Truth'. As with the horrible history set of books the layout and style appeals to his visual learning style and he has devoured the series as he has received it.

And as for the Ant, well that came at scouts the other evening- my daughter faced a forfeit! She ate an ant! The verdict- it tasted much better than the carrot as it was crispy and salted!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Learning as we go!

We  had a breakthrough this week. My son suffers panic attacks which have become more severe since he reached puberty. Trips out have become rarer and rarer.My son started to panic if i left the house to such an extent that I have to work my trips round my husband, Shopping trips to the supermarket with my son were abandoned months ago when he began to suffer meltdowns once in the supermarket.E ven getting out the house to go somewhere he wants to go can take ages just getting out the door he is so anxious.
Yesterday however he asked if he could come with us to Morrisons and eat in the cafe! Simply asking to come made me take a sharp intake of breath.I spoke to my daughter and pre-warned her that he might not make it and we planned a get out clause so he wouldn't feel a failure. I fully expected not to make it out the door but to my surprise  at the arranged time he bounced down the stairs fully dressed, donned his ear defenders and walked to the car never once looking up at the sky for noisy aeroplanes. Once in the car , off came the ear defenders, a sign that he felt O.K and he chatted animatedly with his sister about what he would eat.
We had purposefully chosen to go at 2.00pm on the assumption it would be quieter. Despite this there was a ten minute wait. My son opted to choose his meals from the menu outside the door then he and my daughter went to the far corner of the cafe where it was quietest to wait whilst I ordered.
They were chatting happily when I came to sit down and as my daughter disappeared to the ladies my son said that he felt far happier because his sister was there to support him.
He ate his meal with gusto and then asked the time . It was 2.30. His lip started to wobble and when I asked him what the problem was he said that we had planned to buy a halloween costume but he had to get home for three as he had arranged to play on-line with his friend.
To maintain his sense of success I  abandoned our trip for halloween outfits and said I would do that the next day. I suggested that he tried to calm himself by reading a book on the way home and that is just what he did! He was so pleased at his achievement and realisation dawned that he wants to do so many things that he feels unable to do and that my job is to teese life skills into him slowly and carefully .