I adore bath and bed routine…most of the time!
But sometimes… 🤦♀️
Both children LOVE water. Bubbles and water dominate their play.
They love playing with it, looking at it, listening to it, being in it…
They both get so excited about their baths and we find it really calms them ready for their bed routine. However, last night was not one of those times!
Most of the bath went really well. You could say it went swimmingly 😉
We played with bubbles and sponges, cars, ducks and containers. We splished and sploshed, making volcano tea that erupted from the cup splashing us all.
My eldest was mesmerised by the foamy bubbles and loved putting them on his car, creating pies with his sponge and experimenting with them in only the way he can. He then got over excited, flapped his hands and launched himself at his brother.
Anyone who knows me will know that I am all for play and sensory experiences, but I am also safety conscious…and we don’t mess around in the bath. It’s too dangerous.
My youngest wound up with a scratch on his tummy which triggered a tantrum. It was time to get out.
I drained the water and took out my youngest as he was trying to stand up in the slippery bath, in an attempt to climb out! Good call I hear you say! This was in fact a big mistake.
My eldest is going through a phase of not coping well with waiting and changes in routine. People misinterpret this as him being impatient and controlling for the sake of it! He does have a need to control his environment, but he can’t help it.
He struggles when structures and routines are not adhered to. Usually, he gets out of the bath first so this was too much for him and he had a huge meltdown. In the bath! Then as I tried to get him out of the bath! Then once he was out of the bath!
He gripped the bath with his feet so he was suspended over the tiled floor. He pulled on me so much that I was struggling to hold him. I had visions of him falling and it made me feel sick! My youngest was still in complete tantrum mode in the middle of the bathroom floor, and I was alone!
So what triggered this behaviour? Well, just for starters, the combination of overstimulation, a deafening tantrum and changes in routine that were not aligned with his expectations.
We work hard to keep things as structured as possible, but sometimes this is not possible. We consistently expose the children to situations that put them out of their comfort zone so they can learn to cope with spontaneity, and in some cases they are getting better, but on this occasion it was not received well.
Some people think this behaviour is contrived and perfectly manageable. That if I was harder on the children, they wouldn’t be like this. Sometimes opinions like this seep in to my soul but I have to remind myself that people are ignorant, and it’s not their fault. They are not living my truth 24/7! How can they possibly know what it is like to raise SEN children? I certainly didn’t until I lived it!
I could never have imagined how difficult everyday tasks would be. Although I would never change my children for the world, I can’t say I don’t sometimes look at other families with a sigh and a longing. They can relax with a coffee and chat with a friend while their children play. They can pop to the shops with their children. Or at least just go out with their children. I cannot go out by myself with the children because when my eldest has a meltdown, I cannot keep both children safe. This means we have to stay at home unless another adult is available to accompany us. This is one of the things that upsets me the most!
I know through family and friends that all children have their moments, but I also know that they can leave their children for a short while to get ready or do housework. Mine need constant supervision. They are so unpredictable and oblivious to danger despite everything I teach them, that it would be irresponsible to leave them for even a few minutes. It’s difficult to go to the toilet when I’m alone with them, let alone anything else. To be fair, my teaching days prepared me for that! I digress again…I do this a lot!
Parents of SEN children have to do soooo much preparation to cope with the day ahead, especially when thinking of leaving the house. Every eventuality must be considered with every potential trigger being planned for. Some people have scoffed at me, deeming this organisation unnecessary. On the most part, the structures I have put in place for the children mean that actually they behave and cope with situations well. So the likelihood of meltdowns happening have reduced a great deal. However, not including a pack of resources, not sticking to routines and failing to avoid triggers is not worth the risk. We still experience daily tantrums and complications, some of which are exhausting and exasperating, but generally life is more manageable when we keep things familiar.
It is very rare that people take the children out. They are at a point now where we are happier to allow people as we have put so many things in place to support them, but even then we have to pass over lots of advice. My eldest is very articulate and people think he is older than he is. However, with this comes the assumption that he is socially and emotionally advanced also, and he is not! He needs to be watched ALL the time as he will do very dangerous things, like collapse in the middle of roads or run into them. He also has lots of triggers, such as the sound of hand driers, busy places, bright lights etc. At one point these things would have triggered huge meltdowns, but with the work we have put in, he is coping well. Sadly, this sometimes lures you into a false sense of security, making it all the more shocking when he suddenly reacts extremely to something that he seemed to be coping with.
People can be quite belittling and invalidating, but at the end of the day we should always listen to the parents as they know their children the best.
Very often I get told there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with my children. I agree there is nothing wrong, they are just wired differently and need a different approach to reach the same end point as other people.
But I am not naive…I know what these people mean. They are suggesting that because on the occasions they see the children, they may be behaving well, they are absolutely not SEN. On the one hand I take this as a compliment, as the effort I have put in to help my children function in a world that makes no sense to them and does not understand them has clearly not been in vain. On the other hand, I find it insulting because it completely negates and invalidates everything I have to do to get us to a place where, for a very short time, the children can be around others and do ‘normal’ things.
You wouldn’t believe what some of my mornings are like when we are going out. The constant pep talks, preparation, reminders, role play, flash cards/visuals…and so much more! By the time we leave the house, I have nothing left in me, but then I have to socialise and keep a close eye on the children, intervening consistently.
Some people feel I am too hard and keep on at the children which infuriates me. If I didn’t, they would see very different behaviour from the children and then we would be judged for that.
One of the things I would like to reiterate is that all of this effort goes into getting the children ready to cope for a very short time. The longer you are around the children, the more obvious their needs become to those around them. Although somebody may appear fine on the surface for the short time you see them, please give some thought to just what a struggle it has been to get to that point and what is likely to follow once they have left.
I would like to end with a positive. As there are many. Once I managed to get both children wrapped in their towels and back into the bedroom, the three of us sat on the floor and just cuddled. I whispered, “I love you!” and my eldest whispered, “I love you too mummy.” We snuggled for ages and calm was restored.
My children are pure magic and I love them with all my heart and soul!