Saturday, trampolines and feeding therapy

Until recently I have hated Saturdays, I have been trying and failing to balance the tiredness from having worked all week, with the desire to do something fun and healthy with the kids.

I needed to find something affordable which would tick all the boxes (yes, I know that’s kind of not actually possible but I needed to try). I really wanted something that would contribute to Charlie’s sensory diet, get us out of the house and away from the computer screens, be sociable, affordable (did I already say that?) and suitable for both children. I also desperately wanted to use the time to work with Charlie on messy food play. It’s not like I was asking for much???

The need to find the right thing was driving me crazy, and I was often left feeling deflated and deeply unsatisfied with whatever new thing or place we tried. There would be meltdowns in new places, sometimes the kids often just me. We are all so busy during the week and the sense of urgency to make Saturdays count was beginning to get on my nerves and I in turn was beginning to get on everyone else’s nerves.

About 6 weeks ago we were encouraged by a friend to try leaps and bounds, which is a trampoline club especially for kids with ASD and their families. I find it scary trying new places and seeing the noise and chaos of the other kids when we got there I must have had a similar expression to a rabbit caught in headlights. But in we went anyway, and thank God when we got in there I spotted some of the friendly faces of the other wonderful ASD parents we have got to know over the last year.

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The kids enjoyed their first session they had 3 or 4 turns of jumping, and while they waited there were plenty of other kids to play with, space to run around and soft play blocks to build with or hide inside. The teachers are lovely and are great with the kids, helping them and teaching them new moves each week.

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When we got home they were happy and calm and relaxed, now you can read all you want in sensory books about the benefits of this kind of proprioceptive input and how it regulates kids nervous systems, but to see the change in action is something else. They are almost like different children.

A few hours after getting home from our first session Charlie asked if he could play in his slime! Yes play in slime, this is almost unheard of, the slime was a prize he had won in school weeks before, once he realised how messy and sticky it was he was absolutely not interested in playing with it. It had sat on the shelf in the living room for weeks until this happened.

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Over the weeks we have noticed again and again how the massive dose of proprioceptive input from being on the trampoline, has a huge impact on Charlie for hours afterwards, which is great because it is giving us lots of opportunities to work on feeding therapy / messy food play afterwards. We are doing our best to follow the SOS feeding therapy method of introducing Charlie to new food experiences, we use this alongside “family style” meal serving and division of responsibility at mealtimes.

Charlie’s SOS feeding programme should consist of regular sessions involving a huge amount of regulating activity, heavy work, proprioception, deep pressure, followed by some fun activities involving food. Its hard to manufacture this in an artificial way, especially when we are all tired and I am feeling anxious, but this new Saturday routine seems to be working really well for us at the moment. In the hours after trampoline club Charlie is really really happy to have a go at food prep or messy play, it is fun to watch him relaxed and happy having a go at getting his hands and face dirty.

This Saturday we made Chocolate rice crispie cakes, everyone enjoyed the activity, Charlie helped lick the bowl clean, and got chocolate on his face, another first. What was also interesting was that hours later and the next day once the effects of trampoline club had worn off he wasn’t one bit interested in eating the finished product.

 

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I’m finally starting to look forward to Saturdays, the added bonus is that while the kids jump and play I get to spend lots of time with my lovely new friends. Did I tell you about all the amazing parents I have met since Charlie’s diagnosis? Honestly these are the people who save my sanity, wonderful, beautiful, honest, quality people, one of them took this photo of me….

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Funny blue bird

Good news everyone, today we have welcomed a new member into our household.

His name is currently “Funny Blue Bird” as we let the kids name him, I think we may shorten it to “Blue” at some point in the near future.

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After school we all went to the pet shop together to choose him

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It was VERY noisy in the pet shop

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We had to buy him some food and a toy

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and be responsible for carrying the box carefully with 2 hands

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We had to take turns

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We welcomed him to our house…

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And showed him his new cage

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The cat is very interested in her new house mate.

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Welcome…”Funny blue Bird”

Fireworks

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It’s bonfire night in the UK tonight, and I wanted to share some pictures of the kids enjoying themselves

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There was fun and family and food and fireworks and sparklers!

Muddy wellies and piggy-back rides

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We are so grateful for the people who have helped us and the things we have learnt throughout this year.

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Charlie coped really well, in fact he loved it. He only cried when his new friend went home.

I cannot put into words how much difference, occupational therapy and ear defenders have made to our lives

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I hope you enjoy the pictures…

Musical beds

It’s 4am here, and I’m just letting you all know that I am currently winning the game of musical beds which is being played out in my house.

The poor hubby is on the sofa after loosing his place to one munchkin, the second arrived soon afterwards wanting to snuggle across my feet.

So now I’m in the loft (kid’s bedroom) on my own with my I-pad,

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It’s big and spacious and cool and quiet up here, except for the sound of rain on the roof which I really love.

I find it hard to take the kids back to their beds when the come wondering because firstly i’m normally in such a deep sleep that I don’t notice them until its too late. And secondly I kind of think that they are going to grow up so fast that very soon they won’t want to come snuggling in our bed and ill miss that when the time comes.

So normally I count my blessings and let them snuggle, but tonight the constant tickling of Lillie’s hair on my feet combined with Charlie’s knees in my back were just too much to take.

So here I am in a peaceful and quiet place, sharing my thoughts with you, until someone notices I’m missing and comes looking for me….

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That’s why I fear (love) IKEA

If you have ever been to IKEA and never heard this song, listen now

“I fear Ikea” by the Lancashire Hotpots

Go on, I promise it will make you smile. It will really… I have put the lyrics at the end of the post for those who are not from the north of England and might struggle with the accent.

The first Ikea in the UK was built just 20 minutes drive from our house, 26 years ago in 1987. Ikea originally wanted to open near London, but chose this location because the Warrington and Runcorn Development corporation invited the retailer to be part of its regeneration plans for the area. So we have pretty much grown up with Ikea and Ikea furniture as part of life.

Ikea is a great day out for kids, there is loads of cheap food, places to play and run around like crazy little monkeys, Its almost entirely indoors, which is very important in the north of England where it rains 6 months of the year. And best of all because they don’t actually sell their display furniture the staff never ever ever complain if your little monkey decides to climb all over it. It’s like one enormous playground.

They even sell ice cream strategically placed right after the check out tills, so just as the kids are really starting to lose the plot there is something to bribe them with “Just 5 more minutes, let mummy just pay for this stuff (that I never intended to buy, but couldn’t help myself) and I will get you one of those lovely ice-creams”

Whoever came up with a business plan that involves an ice cream bribe is a genius.

Last year, the day after we saw the paediatrician to get Charlie’s ASD evaluation started, I was feeling pretty miserable, and insecure. It was half term so I was looking for something to do to entertain the kids, cheer me up, pass the time and maybe, just maybe some retail therapy – no I didn’t just say that!

It was the first time we had been to IKEA since Charlie’s 3rd birthday, and so he was finally old enough to be able to stay in the supervised play area. I knew he wanted to do it, and dear God i needed that 45 minutes to sit and have a coffee on my own (Of course the coffee is free, with your family card – because Ikea is actually the best shop on earth).

He was with his sister Lillie and so I knew that there was a good chance that he would make it in there and be able to stay with out me. It was early in the morning so the place was still quiet and although at the time we hadn’t heard the words sensory overload we had seen the results of too much sensory input enough times to know that early mornings in quieter places were easier.

We were there for the first session, and I took the kids up to Lillie-bay the staffed play area, which I found out later is actually managed by Premier Creche services.  While I was dropping them off and registering their details, the lady asked me if either of them had any special needs or allergies etc. I took a deep breath and explained “he is probably autistic and is currently in the diagnosis process”. These are really scary words to say, and this was the first person outside of my close inner circle I had ever said them too. Insecure and vulnerable does not even cover how I was feeling in that moment.

Things really could have gone either way, But the lady’s response was perfect, I could not have asked for anything better.  I wrote later that I was stunned how wonderful she was, she could not have been more helpful. I was offered many reassurances that they would pay him close attention, she asked about his sensitivities especially to loud sudden noises. On that day at that time she was absolutely my angel. The right person in the right place at the right time. As a bonus she even gave me a direct phone number so that next time i can call and PRE-BOOK him a place. Oh and the best bit is that both the kids stayed for the full 45 minutes and I got to have my coffee.

When I got home I posted this on a Facebook page related to autism

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Over the next 2 weeks, every time I looked at my Facebook account someone else had liked the story, or commented, almost 99% of the comments were positive. In the end there were over 11 thousand likes. The manager of Ikea called me to say thank you.

We have been back to ikea lots of times with both kids, here are some of our best moments.

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Oh and Yes and this is Tactile defensive boy getting his face painted, he wanted to have a go but the first time he struggled with waiting in line and having it on his face, so we asked the artist to paint a small spider onto his hand where he could see it. Later we bought some face paints at home and let him try it on himself, one day he allowed his sister to put some on his face, and we went on from there, its hard for him but he is motivated and will try his best to sit for the artist.

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Something that I already knew but which we need reminding over over and over again is this…People Really really, love a good news story, far more than complaints. If you have something encouraging to say, speak out, someone needs to hear it today.

The Song Lyrics…

Now let me tell of a shop that fills me with dread,

It’s blue and it’s yellow but I always see red

It’s a furniture store that makes me want to shout’

Cos once you’ve entered, you can’t find your way out!

That’s why I fear Ikea I won’t go there again I don’t want a bookcase called Billy Or a table called Sven

Just don’t go of a Satdee if you don’t want fer queue

And that doesn’t include th’hour sat on’t M62

If you go of a Wednesday, well it just makes you laugh

It’s the size of Belgium but there’s no bloody staff!

That’s why I fear Ikea I won’t go there again I don’t want a bookcase called Billy Or a table called Sven

It’s a good 10 mile walk if you just want a shelf.

Hang on, you want me to go in th’ warehouse and pick it meself?

Well I struggled wi’ trolley I didn’t get very far

And the boxes were that big they didn’t fit in the car!

That’s why I fear Ikea I won’t go there again I don’t want a bookcase called Billy Or a table called Sven

Michael Palin he’s traveled the world once or twice

They said ‘Why don’t you explore Ikea Michael? That’d be nice’

Well the men at the Beeb must have been off their heads

He went missing a week ago between kitchens and beds!

That’s why I fear Ikea I won’t go there again I don’t want a bookcase called Billy Or a table called Sven

Nice hot dogs though…

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