Me and my girl and boy, raising awareness and acceptance of autism

Archive for the ‘Anxiety’ Category

Would like to start the day again please Weds 13.03.2013

I would, I really really would. But of course, that’s not possible. I hate seeing D so upset, so anxious, so worked up that she initially can’t say what’s wrong.

Days like this that I wish she didn’t have autism. What’s that saying? “My child has autism, but autism doesn’t have them” or something like that. I’d disagree today. Thanks to an unfortunate incident at school, autism took control today and didn’t let up.

Days like this, I don’t want to blog. I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning. Comments tell me if I am – they do – they mostly go to spam, but they tell me to stop whining. I wonder if they live with autism, or know someone who does, or whether they just feel like having a go at someone. *delete, delete, delete*.

Days like this, I do blog because I know it helps parents/carers/individuals on the spectrum to know that someone, somewhere is not having the best of days too, that they’re not alone. That’s the important thing, that’s why I blog.

Our day, where to start?

D had anxieties before we left the house this morning, she didn’t want to go to school, she didn’t want to “exist”. She accepted a bear hug but didn’t acknowledge my telling her that we’d all miss her if she didn’t exist. I don’t know where this comes from, I presume it’s pre-teen angst, coupled with annoyance at her brother, mixed up with autism.

We eventually got to D’s school, only to find the doors locked, a student was having a meltdown in reception. This is to be expected, it’s a special needs school but, the school don’t put any notices outside or have a staff member standing by, directing visitors and students elsewhere. The other entrance was unmanned and locked too. D, by now, unable to cope with the change was bolting. Back to door number one, where suddenly a head appearing shouting to go to the other door.

Eventually we got in, D by now very anxious, not wanting to be there at all.
She refused to go into the classroom too and an unempathetic TA thought she was just being difficult, until I explained about the doors, about the bolting and anxiety. The phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover” sprung to mind. She was persuaded in and I left, feeling sad for my girl, really hoping she’d have a good day.

(This is where I feel let down by the school, it just needs a little bit of thought. There are windows all around reception, a notice could be easily made and kept under a window, ready to be put up. It doesn’t create a very good first impression, it says chaos. I did notice one of the governors in the car park, I doubt he got in terribly easily either.)

She didn’t have a good day. I went into the classroom – normally D rushes at me enthusiastically and body-slams me – and there was my D, wailing whilst sitting on the floor. She’d been upset by another child whilst in the playground, amongst other things.

Her very-sensitive/anxious moods have continued at home. I always mention to T if D has had a bad day and ask him to make allowances for her, he hasn’t today. In no particular order, there have been squabbles, shouting, tears, threats to leave home and much-needed bear hugs.

This has literally lasted all this afternoon, through meal time, evening routine and settling (or lack of it) time. Thank goodness for melatonin, otherwise she’d still be awake and anxious now.

So, I know this has not been a positive blog and I do like to end positively. I’ll find my “Charlie Brown” picture and end by saying despite today, I wouldn’t be without them; my individual, wonderful children. I am blessed, I am grateful that I was chosen to be their Mumma but I would like a better day tomorrow.

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That last picture is for anyone who also hasn’t had the best of days.

Thanks for reading, comments/RTs/shares as ever welcomed Jx 😘

#MagicMoments – Overcoming anxieties and totally rocking it!


Today I’m re-visiting a recent Magic Moment for a great new initiative via theoliversmadhouse.co.uk,click here to read Jaime’s post.

This was truly a Magic Moment, tears of pride streamed down my face for the whole time, not just for D but for every SN child on that stage.

“We’ve been practising songs in the bath; on the school run….everywhere and today, it finally arrived. The day of D’s school play.

D couldn’t go into the school hall at all during her time in mainstream, I never got to see her in an assembly or a play, nerves and anxieties got the better of her. We’d practice the songs at home until she was word-perfect, do dress rehearsals and then, on the day, severe anxieties would set in and she’d be left with a TA in a classroom, whilst the rest of the class performed.

Not today though.

Our girl was Mary and she was brilliant!!
It was a two year groups combined production and everyone did fantastically. It’s not easy to stand up in front of people and speak/sing but all these SN children managed it, with gentle prompts and persuasion from the school staff.

What was so lovely to see was, with D’s fantastic memory for timings etc, she was gently instructing her classmates into position and went to fetch the baby for the manger before it was handed to her. So proud of her.

We went back to her classroom for a mince pie and orange juice afterwards and D was very happy, lots of people had told her how well she had done.

The best part for D was she’d been told she could go home afterwards so..we did!”

This was obviously from the build-up to
Christmas, it was wonderful.

D’s SN school are putting on a performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” just after Easter, D will be in the choir, it will be wonderful to watch.

Thanks for Jaime for hosting the linky x.

Squease inflatable deep pressure vests – Product Review

Recently we were offered the chance to trial a Squease inflatable deep pressure vest – click here to visit their website.

“Squease is an inflatable deep pressure vest that is hidden away inside a hooded top. No weights are used; hug-like pressure is applied to to the upper body simply by inflating the vest with air.

The vest is lightweight and may be worn by itself or zipped inside a Squease hooded top, making it discreet and mobile.

The vest is inflated by squeezing a hand pump, allowing the wearer to regulate and apply soothing pressure in everyday situations that may lead to anxiety, stress or sensory overload – whether that is at home, at school, or on-the-move.

For people with sensory processing difficulties such as many people with autism, who find dealing with change, busy environments or contact with other people to be highly stressful, applying pressure to the upper body may be calming, increase body awareness or improve attention and focus.”

These two YouTube videos explain how the Squease vest originated and how it works – click here and here to view. These are two separate films.

My first impressions:

The vest is incredibly light when deflated and because it works by squeezing an air pump (which if you have the Squease inside the hooded top option) is very discreet to inflate and deflate. The two pictures below show first a deflated and then an inflated vest.

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How does it work?

Firstly set-up your pressure vest over a t-shirt or vest whilst standing. Fasten the Velcro side-straps so that the vest fits loosely, Squease recommends leaving a gap of one or two finger-widths between the front of the vest and the body.

To inflate the vest, simply squeeze the hand pump until the desired level of compression is reached on the upper body.

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To deflate, press the air release button at the top of the hand pump and the vest deflates quickly and discretely.

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The benefits we found:

D mastered the act of inflation and deflation quickly. I had to prompt her to inflate it when we were out-and-about in a busy environment and anxieties were emerging, but the compression benefit was instant and she likened it to “receiving a bear hug from you, Mumma”.

I really like the idea that the vest can be zipped inside a Squease hooded too, with the hand pump fitting into a pocket slot.

The Squease is available in a variety of hooded top/without hooded top colour and size combinations – click here to visit the online store – and the company are planning to introduce child sizes shortly, but to give an idea of adult sizing, the adult small fitted D very well, the Velcro straps enabling a perfect fit.

The vest (and optional hooded top) can be rented or purchased outright and a VAT relief scheme is available:
“If Squease garments are purchased for personal or domestic use by a chronically ill or disabled individual or are made available to a disabled person or persons for domestic or personal use, then we may supply the products at zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT).

When you purchase an item online questions are asked through the checkout process assessing whether VAT is required. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer then please fill out the form on the right and post it to us or email it to us.”

The company also offers a “Trial
before you buy scheme” – click here for details.

Would D and I recommend it?

Yes, definitely. So many weighted products are extremely beneficial but naturally extremely heavy, the Squease is lightweight and discreet.

I like the idea of trialling one first too.

Would we buy one?

Absolutely.

I’ll end with some pictures of a very happy D, wearing the vest. She instantly relaxed and felt the benefits and it’s something I’ll be looking to purchase once she’s finished her current (rapid) growth spurt.

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Thanks for reading, comments/RTs/shares as ever welcomed.

Disclaimer: we were sent a Squease vest to trial for a few weeks. No payment was received and our views were our own.

A bit of a brain dump

I don’t normally do this, so please excuse this mish-mash/brain dump. I’m
usually a positive soul but I’m so tired.

I think my body is telling me something, it’s been doing it for a while and I should listen to it. (Cue a bit of a pity party) In the last few weeks, I’ve had tonsillitis, gone head first down the stairs, had inflammation in my hand and all this combined with immense external stresses. I had the best night’s sleep in weeks on Tuesday and then Mother-flipping-Nature decides to (ahem) “visit” me a week early. Thanks!
I’m hoping that by starting with Curves soon I’ll start to feel better.

Couple all this with parenting two – very individual but wonderful – children with very different requirements, juggling CAMHS appointments, melatonin requests (which either get lost or are wrong), paediatric appointments and a timescale for a diagnosis needed, well….

Of course, I know I’m a lucky J really. Mr Bluecrisps is loyal, protective, hard-working man who I should appreciate more and not snap at. Tiredness and worries take over at times. I wouldn’t change my children for the world, but I would change the world for them.

I read a couple of things this week that made me quite sad; one referred to autism as a “terrible disease”. This implies to me contagious, curable. Autism is neither. My children will learn how to cope and manage in time – see post here – but autism is a life-long disability, not disease.

Then there was something else, an article in a UK-based magazine but with obvious leanings to overseas readers, talking about “autism prevention”. They discussed vaccinations and abortion, which really saddened me. One quick virtual slap later and it just makes me more determined to do what I’m doing, carry on in my own little way, trying to raise awareness and acceptance for everyone on the vast spectrum/who loves someone on there.

So, what is the answer? There isn’t one. I’m not on an ego-trip doing this blog, I blog relatively anonymously because I prefer it that way. I use pictures of the children – but their initials – to demonstrate that autism cannot be seen, it’s an invisible disability. If my blogging about the ups and downs of our day helps just one person then job done.

But I am switching off more in the evenings, trying to relax either by reading or watching something I wouldn’t normally watch.

Last night it was “Meet The Izzards”, a fascinating travel through time aided by Eddie Izzard’s DNA profile. The programme is worth watching for the tribeswomens obvious joy when they all received painted nails, it puts things into perspective and you can watch a link to T&D programme here.

I started this blog grumpily but I’m finishing positively. My children are healthy and, at this precise moment, happy. That’s enough for me.

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Panic attacks – the symptoms and how to deal with them

The last few days have really tested me, it’s not something I’ve mentioned in my diary blogs as they are predominantly to raise awareness of parenting children on the autistic spectrum.

We both feel like we are turning a corner/light at the end of the tunnel/whatever cliche is appropriate but I wouldn’t want to repeat the last six days and I hope we never have to.

Last night I had a panic attack. I didn’t realise what was happening until I was a couple of minutes into it and my first (and Hubbie’s) reaction was of panic – which sort of made it worse. I’m not looking for sympathy – I’m not like that – but I wanted to share the research I did following it, which details the symptoms and how to deal with one. Life is stressful at times, too stressful and I hope the following articles will be read and assist someone in the future.

The main things I remembered from reading something previously was to focus on your breathing (a bit like during childbirth), breathing into cupped hands and to realise that it’s not going to last forever (it doesn’t, but at the time, the feeling of not being in control is never-ending).

This is taken from the NHS website:

The symptoms of a panic attack can be very frightening and distressing. Symptoms tend to occur very suddenly, without warning and often for no apparent reason.

As well as overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a panic attack can also cause the following symptoms:

a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly (palpitations)
sweating
trembling
hot flushes
chills
shortness of breath
a choking sensation
chest pain
nausea
dizziness
feeling faint
numbness, or pins and needles
dry mouth
a need to go to the toilet
ringing in your ears
a feeling of dread, or a fear of dying
a churning stomach
a tingling sensation in fingers
shivering
shaking

The physical symptoms of a panic attack are unpleasant, and they can also be accompanied by thoughts of fear and terror. For this reason, people with panic disorder start to fear the next attack, which creates a cycle of living in ‘fear of fear’ and adds to the sense of panic.

Sometimes, the symptoms of a panic attack can be so intense they can make you feel like you are having a heart attack.

However, it is important to be aware that symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, or shortness of breath, will not result in you having a heart attack. Also, although a panic attack can often be frightening, it will not cause you any physical harm. People who have had panic disorder for some time usually learn to recognise this ‘heart attack sensation’, and become more aware of how to control their symptoms.

The symptoms of a panic attack usually peak within 10 minutes, with most attacks lasting for between 5 and 20 minutes. Some panic attacks have been reported to have lasted up to an hour. However, it is likely that the reason for this is due to one attack occurring straight after another, or high levels of anxiety being felt after the first attack.

Recurrent panic attacks

People with panic disorder have panic attacks on a recurring basis. Some people have panic attacks once or twice a month, while others have attacks several times a week.

People with panic disorder also tend to have ongoing and constant feelings of worry and anxiety. The panic attacks that are associated with panic disorder can be very unpredictable. If you have panic disorder, you may feel stressed and worried about when your next attack will be.

Depersonalisation

During a panic attack your symptoms can feel so intense and out of your control that you may feel detached from the situation, your body and your surroundings. It can almost feel as if you are an observer, making the situation seem very unreal.

This sense of detachment is known as depersonalisation. Being detached from the situation does not provide any relief, or make a panic attack less frightening. Instead, it often makes the experience more confusing and disorientating.

And some tips from an article in the Mail newspaper on how to deal with a panic attack:

10 tips for coping with panic attacks

One: If you feel a panic attack coming on and find you are breathing rapidly, breathe slowly in and out of a brown paper bag or cupped hands.
Although you may feel you can’t catch your breath, you are probably over breathing and taking in too much oxygen – making you feel giddy. A paper bag will help your oxygen levels return to normal.

Two: Change your lifestyle. Take regular exercise – this helps to burn off excessive adrenaline. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. Eat regular meals and avoid processed foods and drinks, to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Three: Don’t attempt to fight your way out of a panic attack – this will simply increase the adrenaline. Instead accept the feelings will come and go and allow the symptoms to play their tricks as they will. Practise imagining yourself floating over them. Eventually the panic will subside.

Four: Don’t bottle up your emotions. Find someone to confide in, such as a family member, friend or counsellor.

Five: Focus outside of yourself during an attack. Listen to some music or do a pleasurable task while waiting for the panic to subside.

Six: Learn a relaxation technique. First close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Locate any areas of tension and imagine them disappearing. Then, relax each part of the body, bit by bit, from the feet upwards. Think of warmth and heaviness. After 20 minutes of doing this, take some deep breaths and stretch.

Seven: Firmly tell yourself that your symptoms are nothing more than an over-sensitised nervous system. They are temporary feelings and are not medically harmful or dangerous.

Eight: Reduce your exposure to unnecessary stress. Be prepared to express your needs to others and assert yourself.

Nine: Look into cognitive behaviour therapy or other “talking treatments”. You can find a list of practitioners on the website for the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (www.babcp.com).

10: Join a self-help group. You can find details through the No Panic charity freephone helpline on 0808 8080545. Also check the Mind charity website (www.mind.org.uk) and the NHS Best Treatments website for further help. Also visit http://www.phobics-society.org.uk for more information on anxiety disorders.