I am a mother to three gorgeous kids, the youngest of which has Aspergers Syndrome. This is my attempt to chart the journey we have taken together and share with you how autism has effected our lives...
If you had told me a year ago that our lives would be so good now I don't think I'd have believed you. Out of the darkness comes light and Munchkin has certainly lit up our lives and made things interesting. There isn't a day she doesn't make us smile and laugh with her antics :)
It will take me a while to get the blog up to date per se and the beginning will be hard to write for me as will bring me back to the dark place we once were, but I'm hoping it will help even one person at the beginning of their journey xx
Today I took Munchkin out for lunch with a friend and was very pleasantly surprised how our trip into town went. We even managed to squeeze a quick browse around a clothes shop without any major incidents. Munchkin happily stood peeling stickers off all the new lingerie that had been displayed while I tried on some coats beside her. I had to let go of her hand to take on and off the selected coats that I had dragged over to the bra and knickers and she was very content to stay put while I did my impromptu fittings. I decided on a lovely new grey jacket and that was placed into the basket alongside several candles, some underwear, a schoolbag and some Christmas cards that Munchkin had discretely swiped and placed there as we went through the aisles. We only had two incidents in the shop where she bolted so it was a good day to try for lunch out.
My friend and I decided on a lovely restaurant we know were there is seating under the stair area next to the bathrooms where Munchkin could be contained in a high chair with a harness and we settled ourselves down and waited patiently for the lasagne to be dropped down to us. All the time, Munchkin entertained herself nicely with the sugar sachets and other condiments... All going fabulously... She even ate some chunky chips (usually rejected as MaccyDees skinny fries are the acceptable ones...)
I decided then that I would take her to the bathroom as it had been a while since she had been and I didn't wish to be frantically trying to dry out a car seat! My guard must have been extremely relaxed as I went straight past the wheelchair accessible toilet I would normally have gone into with her and went to the ladies toilets instead. Whilst she sat on the toilet, another lady had finished her business and washed her hands.... oh no.... how could I have been so stupid?? As the hand dryer went off just outside the cubicle, Munchkin threw herself, terrified and semi naked into the safety of my arms, screeching, panic stricken with the widest eyes you could ever imagine... I should have known better as have had her climb onto my shoulders in a cubicle as she waited for me to finish on the toilet before when a dryer has gone off outside the door. Needless to say, I think a visit to that particular restaurant in the future will be doubtful as she will associate it not with the pleasant and relaxed lunch we had, but the "Dryer Monster" which is what I imagine she thinks it is.
The "Dryer Monster" is not uncommon I believe and have heard it attacks many children on the spectrum. It has been known to frequent all corners of the globe! It particularly likes those with sensitive hearing and is related to the ferocious "Hairdryer Monster"...
Sensory issues affect a huge number of children with autism. All the senses can be amplified beyond what we ourselves could tolerate. This was explained so eloquently by Hammie in her blog Hammiesblog
"Autism is a sensory disability in which everything your child sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells is distorted.They may see every strand of hair on your head individually with more detail than a Dandruff commercial, hence the need to push your hair off your face.They may taste food in individual components that make the slightest change to the recipe seem like an entirely different food.Touch can be too light to feel or too intense to bear, or both!And sound most unfortunately can be very distorted, either because they hear everything and cannot tune in to what’s important, ie. your voice, or because they only hear the higher sounds or the lower sounds that are in their environment."
I have been lucky that even without any official Occupational Therapy, my own home program that I implemented has been very successful in desensitising Munchkin to a lot of her sensitivities, touch especially was difficult for her, but now will actively seek contact with me. I have noticed however, that her sensitivity to noise seems to be increasing, not hugely, but is increasing. She will several times a day (well several is a bit of an understatement... several hundred times a day!) "Whats that noise...." It could be a clock ticking, or a washing machine in another room or the neighbours dog barking, or the wind blowing etc.... I've also noticed that she is getting more interested in musical notes, particularly mid range tones. While at my mothers house, she has a piano and unlike most children her age, she does not bang and clatter the keys, rather will press them gently, finding the notes that please her best. She does the usual press every key in sequence but then will place both hands palm down on the ivory keys and press several keys with each hand until she finds some that sound pleasing to her ear and holds them down as the notes resonate through her hands... Perhaps I have a budding pianist on my hands...