Sensory Triggers

When it comes to Autism and all things “spectrum” related, I have found that no two individuals are the same. There are similarities, but that’s as far as it goes. However, I thought that by sharing our experience of the things that seem to trigger Matthews meltdowns, that maybe it would be helpful to parents/ carers who are going through the same thing at the minute and don’t have an explanation for why there little one is acting out.

There is a big difference between a tantrum and a “sensory” related meltdown, and this is quite possibly one of the biggest misconceptions about children on the Autism Spectrum. Many people believe that their reactions are merely due to behavioural issues, and that discipline or lack thereof is the issue. However, parents or carers of “sensory” children will know the difference between a simple tantrum because there little one can’t get there own way, and a full on “sensory” meltdown that makes their child both mentally and physically uncomfortable.

Before I go any further, I want to reiterate that these particular triggers may not apply to you or your child. Each person reacts differently to different sights, sounds and smells. These are just the ones that we have experience with.

  • Strong smells

It isn’t one smell in particular but we have found that especially at feeding time, if Matthew can smell the food he is being served, he will point blank refuse to eat it. Things such as fresh fish (despite him enjoying fish fingers) and eggs. Just having these foods within eye view upsets him, because of the strong smell they give off.

  • Loud noises

There are certain noises that bother him more than others, but generally speaking this is a big trigger. Particularly the hoover or the hairdryer. He also gets very distressed in a loud social environment, unless he has a distraction such as a toy or is being held tightly by my husband or I. He is a lover of music, but gets very overwhelmed if it is extremely loud. He usually indicates that this is bothering him by holding his hands over his ears.

img_7907-e1518697698357.jpg

  • Certain music

As well as being frightened by loud music, Matthew also has some particular songs/ pieces of music that upset him incredibly. These may seem like silly little things to someone else, but they aggravate him beyond measure. So much so that these are the worst kind of meltdowns he currently exhibits.

  • Tastes/ Textures

I put these together because they seem to go hand-in-hand with Matthew. If I give him something to hold that has a strange or abnormal texture to him, it’s as if he can taste it in his mouth. He grimaces and gags at the feel of it. This is the exact same reaction he has when he tastes food that he doesn’t enjoy. It’s a very physical reaction, where his body is almost not entirely in control of its reaction.

I hope that this has been useful for anybody who is going through the diagnosis process at the minute. There is a lot of information thrown at you when you first suspect your child may have “sensory” issues and it can get a bit overwhelming. Please feel free to have a look at my previous posts regarding our journey so far…

Having A Toddler With Sensory Issues

Planning A Party For A Sensory Challenged Child

Entertaining A Sensory Challenged Toddler

Our Sensory Red Flags

Sites/ People To Follow Regarding Autism/ Sensory Issues

Advertisements

Midnight Thoughts

I’ve been lying in bed for the past couple of hours, trying to settle my very upset and out-of-character toddler, and I’ve been thinking about what lies ahead of us.

Nobody knows what the future has in store anyway, but for a mum of a medically fragile little boy on the spectrum, it’s really quite frightening.

Matthew is only 2 right now and so the full extent of his condition is very much unknown, but it doesn’t stop you thinking about the worst case scenario.

Right now he is non-verbal. He has no level of communication whatsoever, but not only that, he has no level of understanding either. He’s smart in so many ways but not when it comes to this.

What if that never changes? What does this mean for his future?

Asking this opens a massive can of worms which, if I’m being honest, I just can’t face dealing with right now.

Despite being an optimistic person, I’ve found that since Matthew was born, I’ve coped easier with convincing myself it is always the worst case scenario in everything he’s faced.

It gives me the opportunity to fully prepare for all eventualities if indeed things are at their very worst. However, on the rare occasions where it hasn’t been as bad as I initially perceived it to be, it’s been a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

I’m sure I share the same stresses and worries as every other special needs parent. It’s not an easy thing to watch your child, who you love more than life, struggle so much with the world around them. It’s heartbreaking in fact. But it’s our reality and it is just the way of it. If anything, it makes me love him even more, if that’s even possible.


Sites/ People to follow regarding Autism/ Sensory Issues

Hello lovelies!

I thought i’d write a little post related to all of the great information I have found while doing some research on my boys condition.

I am one of those people that needs as much information as possible in order to properly prepare myself and I have found that there is an abundance of wonderful first hand experiences of mums and dads going through the same thing, as well as a bucket load of absolute garbage that you have to weed through. So I thought since I’ve already done all the weeding through that i’d share the great sites and people I’ve found so that you don’t have to go looking.

Here goes…

Finding Coopers Voice

20773555_1937189762958141_1666038861_o

This is a Facebook Page led by Coopers mum Kate. The only way I can describe Kate and this page is by saying she, and it, are simply incredible. She is sooo open and honest about the struggles she and her family all go through with Coopers condition, as well as sharing in all the wonderful moments they experience together. She posts video diaries almost every day and if you are looking to be inspired then this lady and her beautiful boy will do that for you!!!

Mummy & The Bubbas – Stacey Leigh

dis-710x500

This amazing lady is mummy of 2, with her youngest Jacob being on the Autism Spectrum. She is the ultimate advocate of Autism Awareness and she is so real and so relatable that you will feel instantly like shes one of your friends. She has vlogs and blog posts regarding Jacobs autism journey and she is always willing to give advice or be a shoulder for those going through the same process. She has made me aware of so much related to the condition, but she does so in an understandable way. She is great – definitely give her a follow!

Michael’s Mum

14199547_1089722624430780_8172491001199453922_n

This lovely lady Julia, is a mummy to Michael who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2. She is a former Tax Lawyer, turned ABA Therapist for her son and she, like the other mums i’ve mentioned is just brilliant. Her aim with her blog is to help other parents, while documenting her own journey. She writes beautifully, and her posts are so eloquent that you will enjoy reading along regardless of whether you have a child on the spectrum or not. 

The National Autistic Society

50th-logo

This organisation, if you live in the UK is the leading charity for Autistic people and their families. They offer a wealth of knowledge from the diagnosis process to local schools and nurseries where Autistic people are catered for. There are real life stories to read and even a shop where you can purchase merchandise and educational resources to gain a better understanding of the condition. Like I said, if you’re in the UK, get yourself along to this site and get involved. 

Scary Mommy

17554046_10154817325093301_3278269502933641806_n

This is a brilliant site whereby an abundance of “Scary Mommy” contributors create the content. It is funny and smart and you can quite easily get lost for hours among it’s articles. There is lots of posts  about Autism and all things “Spectrum” related and it is written so beautifully and by so many different, talented women that you get a whole host of different perspectives and information to work with. Love this site sooooo much… and the Twitter feed is just as great! 

So there you go. I have heeps more but I don’t want to bombard you with too much, so I’ll do another post at a later date, giving you enough time to sink your teeth into all of these fantastic sites and people!

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned from all of these wonderful people, is that no two cases are the same. There are similarities, but ultimately each child’s symptoms and behaviours are completely unique to them. It doesn’t do you or anyone else in your family any good to make comparisons, but for someone like me who is waiting (ever so impatiently) on the diagnosis process moving forward, it means I have copious amounts of reading material and can be as prepared as possible for when diagnosis happens (or doesn’t)!


Our ‘Sensory’ RED FLAGS!

Ok so i’m putting a disclaimer at the very beginning of this post as I am fully aware from research and speaking to other mums who have gone through this, that there are numerous “symptoms” which individually may not be related to Sensory or Autism. However, we have found that with Matthew having several of these ‘red flags’ as it were, that they were more of an indication that there was a bigger problem. Autism is also a Spectrum disorder and so each child is different and displays a different set of behaviours.

On that note, I will start at the beginning of our journey.

Matthew was born 16 weeks premature, and with this comes a whole host of issues. Apart from the physical implications of being this premature, we were advised by Matthews numerous consultants that there was a much higher chance Matthew would have trouble with his mental development. The possibilities were as varied as having a slight delay, to Autism and right up to Cerebral Palsy.

Matthew showed no immediate signs of there being anything wrong, other than with his lungs which is an ongoing issue. However, we were advised that any symptoms related to his mental development wouldn’t really surface until he reached the age of hitting milestones.

He met the majority of his early milestones without a problem. He rolled over, learned to crawl, babbled until his heart was content and eventually started walking at 17 months (13 months corrected due to his gestation) which was January of this year.

This was when we started to see some strange behaviours from him, which I’m going to list so as to make it easier if anybody is skimming this post for the specific symptoms we noticed.

  • He has an aversion to water and gets very upset when being bathed.
  • He does not like certain textures and often acts like he can taste them in his mouth when he touches certain things. 
  • He rocked back and forth in his highchair, often for long periods of time.
  • He banged hard surfaces with his fist, often very hard, and showed no signs of physical pain. 
  • He had quite severe Eczema and would often scratch it until it bled, again showing no signs of pain.
  • He didn’t play with his toys, instead just spun them around, put them in his mouth or tapped them against hard surfaces.
  • He didn’t make eye contact, unless myself or my husband sang a nursery rhyme to him. 
  • He didn’t respond to his name. 
  • He didn’t speak any words, only babbled. 
  • He got very overwhelmed and upset by cheering and clapping.

These were the first set of symptoms we encountered, and we brought up our concerns at Matthews Neurological Development Assessment which took place in February. This is one of many clinics Matthew must attend to check on his health and well-being because he was so small and sick when he was born.

His Neurological Consultant, Occupational Therapists and Physio Therapists all noticed these issues and advised us that he was indeed showing early signs of being on the Autism Spectrum.

They decided then and there to refer him for early intervention services. This was in the form of a Speech & Language Referral, a more intense form of Occupational Therapy and he was invited to attend a Special Needs toddler class where there was an array of Childhood Development Support staff who would be able to help and assess his development.

Matthew started this class in April and goes on a weekly basis. He also has several Therapy sessions each month with both his Occupational Therapist and Speech & Language Therapist. Since his early intervention support started he has improved greatly, and has stopped some of his previous behaviours as listed below.

  • He rocked back and forth in his highchair, often for long periods of time.
  • He banged hard surfaces with his fist, often very hard, and showed no signs of physical pain.He still doesn’t really feel pain.
  • He didn’t speak any words, only babbled. He can now say Dada & Mama, but is still very non-verbal. 
  • He got very overwhelmed and upset by cheering and clapping. This has improved greatly since starting his class. 

The early intervention Matthew has received has been invaluable and has really helped him develop. However with the decrease in some of his behaviours there has been an increase in new ones:

  • He has an aversion to certain loud noises and crowded places.
  • He, on occasion, will scratch his tongue.
  • He is terrified of Carousels (Merry-Go-Rounds) we recently discovered on a trip to the fairground.
  • He doesn’t like the feeling of grass on his skin. 
  • He has become very fussy with eating and tends to only eat certain things (which are bland in colour and taste).
  • He tilts his head back, to the side and to the front when he’s walking. 
  • He is obsessed with closing doors. 

So this is where we are at right now. All of the above behaviours and actions are very much part of his daily routine, and I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting. However, I just wanted to give as much information as I possibly could so that anybody who suspects their child may be on the Spectrum can see what Matthews particular symptoms are.

We are currently waiting on our referral for a Paediatrician who will carry out the Autism assessment on Matthew, but I am almost certain in my heart that he is on the Spectrum. The most frustrating part of this entire journey is waiting on a specialist confirming it for you. This is all we want right now, so that we can help Matthew and get the best support in place that we can for him.

It’s not what you envision your childs future to be, but it is the reality of the situation and truth be told it is just another thing that makes him who he is!