So much to tell you…

We have had a very eventful couple of days, and lots of family time together over Christmas and New Year. My husband and eldest child are back to work and school tomorrow and I feel a little sad. It has been so lovely though, so when I get a chance I’ll update you with what’s been going on. Well, some of it as there is so much to remember. I would love to know what you’ve been up to? Are you already back at work/school, or is that looming for you this week as well? Are you excited about getting back to some routine or are you feeling a little bit blue?

Struggling

So, I’m not going to lie…I am struggling this evening!

Horrendous weekend, behaviour wise. I can’t tell you why… all I can tell you is that after a pretty good spell with my eldest, he is clearly not coping.

It could be down to a number of things.

We have had, from one or both children: refusing to sit at the table, refusing food, blowing raspberries, spinning, dumping toys, crashing toys, being rough, trying to jump on beds/couch, dangerous behaviour, shouting when not getting their own way, screaming, meltdowns, hitting, self-harm, headbutting, avoidance, baby talk, rolling on the floor, impatience, trying to play on stairs, taking things from the fridge/freezer without asking, trying to wander off elsewhere in the house to do gosh knows what…the list goes on!

I have tried to deal with the behaviours as I always do but for the last three days, nothing seems to be working.

My eldest seems extremely anxious.

I have been doing lots of reading, as always, and have reached out to parents of SPD children. I was referred to a link which was initially suggested to help me with my youngest…but it is in fact my eldest. I am going to share this link in another post. It discusses PDA.

My eldest has an issue with getting wet, despite being obsessed with water…and I mean obsessed!

It was raining when I collected him. He had a huge meltdown…refused to walk and didn’t want to go in the pram because water was dripping from the cover. He wanted me to carry him home. I explained that I could not and gave him the option of pram or walking. I had to dry the pram in every area he perceived to be wet, or discoloured. We managed a few steps before he scraped his feet on the ground, making it impossible to push the pram. He tried to climb out of the pram and got stuck, which upset him greatly. When I took him out to walk, he wouldn’t put his feet to the ground because it was wet. He hung from me and almost knocked me over.

Then, some raindrops wet his trousers. Rather than stripping off, like he usually does, he had a huge meltdown…screaming, crying and pleading with me to take the wet away.

We discussed the purpose of shoes. I showed him the raindrops on my leggings and the bottom of my shoes. Nothing worked. He tried to climb me and I nearly dropped him onto the ground.

I pretended to dry the patches…and we discussed how they would dry…and that we could dry everything at home.

I lifted him up, kissed and cuddled him, and after some time and effort, managed to convince him to walk with me, pushing the pram. We had to keep pausing to discuss the rain and he kept crying about being wet.

“Please take me in the car next time, Mummy!”
“I’m afraid I can’t!”

His face showed real pain and tears were streaming down his red, patchy cheeks. I feel so torn between conflicting emotions…feeling frustrated and inconvenienced…also feeling so sorry for this little soul who cannot control his emotions and reactions. Ninety nine percent of the time, his needs outweigh my own and I take a deep breath, push aside my feelings and try everything I can possibly think of to make him feel happier. I wish he didn’t have to go through this all the time…that we didn’t have to experience this all the time.

Once we were home, I started dinner. Once we sat down to eat, another meltdown commenced. This time, the other child jumped on the bandwagon. I got hit in the face! My eldest has a talent for always striking the same place, every time! We removed them both, placing them somewhere safe, and just stared at each other…exhausted and exasperated. My husband asked, “What have we done to deserve this? Daily! We give them so much love. We try so hard to meet all of their needs. Having special children is hard…and I’m worn!”

At least we have each other. Although, it does cause tension at times, it’s nice to have that other human being who gets it…really gets it! Who lives it!

As I write this, the children are playing beautifully. Calm after the storm. Oh…spoke too soon…

Triggers

…and things not going as expected, transitions, fixating on things and having to let them go/not being able to access them… etc etc

Going Out

When we go out, we always have to find autism friendly times. Either at the crack of dawn or when other people are going home.

We have to think carefully about where we go as the children aren’t great in crowds or confined spaces.

Naturally, we do expose them to these situations but it has to be carefully planned and thought about.

It is 9:15 as I am writing this, and we are racking our brains thinking about what to do with the day.

We still aren’t ready, which is not like us, but that means by the time we are, we will be going out at the same time as lots of other people.

To make our outing successful, we can’t go somewhere busy or loud, as my eldest will get overwhelmed.

What to do…

How it all began…

When I was a teacher, I came across a large number of children with additional needs. It struck me that more and more children were presenting with SEN, however many of these children were not diagnosed. Any teacher will tell you that when you have your own class, the children become your extended family, so you naturally do whatever it takes to help them. Whether it’s spending hours of your own time worrying about and trying to find ways to support them, or indeed spending your very hard earned wages on anything you feel will make their learning experiences positive and meaningful.

I spent hours researching and creating resources to help those children ‘cope’ within the classroom environment but still, some children just could not succeed. This created all sorts of issues such as low self esteem and a feeling of failure, inevitably exacerbating the behaviour. I witnessed children being labelled naughty and this infuriated me. Some children experience chaotic home lives which can influence their behaviour, but I had my share of children who struggled for a plethora of different reasons.

In our society we are very quick to judge parents and assume that children are spoilt brats, devoid of manners and discipline. “Bring back corporal punishment!” I’ve heard people say. “All this ADHD and autism…nonsense! In my day, this didn’t exist and it’s just an excuse for children who can’t behave!”

Well, the reality is, children with additional needs have always existed, but they were not diagnosed and probably spent their lives being misunderstood and labelled incorrectly. It is highly plausible that numbers seem to have increased due to more people being diagnosed, but studies also suggest that genetics have a part to play. I will revisit this further in my blog.

These opinions never sat well with me, but they wounded me even further when I had two children of my own who were both flagged up as being SEN.

Automatically, people assumed my children’s behaviour was a result of my parenting, or pandering as it was once described. I prefer to call it helping my children to feel safe, secure and loved. I prefer to call it having realistic expectations and clear boundaries. I also prefer to call it picking your battles.

Some people didn’t believe they were SEN at all and suggested I was seeing things that weren’t there, completely invalidating their everyday struggles, as well as mine. But again, I will explore this further in my blog.

I have created SEN Child of Mine to share my experiences, to offer support to others, and also to explore the world of SEN today. I look forward to exploring this journey with you and invite you to share your world with me.