Tuesday 27 September 2016

The Reason I Jump: one Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism

Just lately, I have been asked by a number of people about some of the things that O and L do - from their stimming, to the way L speaks at times, meltdowns, why don't they like loud noises and so on.

It makes me extremely happy that people feel that they can approach me to ask these questions, it shows that are willing to learn and are wanting take on new information. It means that my children and others with Autism will benefit as more people will be aware of what being on the spectrum means.

Earlier this year, I found a fantastic book called "The Reason I Jump." I stumbled across it quite by accident when I was searching for something else for work. It looked interesting so I purchased it. I eagerly awaited it's arrival and then could not put it down once I started reading it. The book opened up my eyes to some of the things that my children do, I began to have a deeper understanding of their stimming, echolia, meltdowns, their sensitivity to noise and crowds.

"The Reason I Jump" is written by Naoki Higashida, a Japanese boy who has Autism. He wrote the book when he was only thirteen and the book provides the reader with a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of children and adults who have Autism. 

Naoki was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5. He is non-verbal and communicates through an alphabet grid. He points to letters, numbers, punctuation and other symbols around the grip to form words which his aide then transcribes. He can also express himself through the use of a computer and keyboard but prefers the alphabet grid.

Naoki has written the book in a question and answer format answering questions such as "Why are you too sensitive or insensitive to pain," "Why don't you make eye contact when you're talking," "Why do you echo questions back at the asker,""Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks," "Why are you so picky about what you eat" and so on.

Naoki answers all the questions from his point of view and also talks about the way he thinks and feels about his world - other people, nature, time and beauty and himself. Through his words, Naoki shows that people with Autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy and he makes it clear how badly people with Autism need our compassion, patience and understanding.

The book is introduced by David Mitchell. His wife ordered the book from Japan, in the hope that it would assist them to understand the behaviour of their non-verbal Autistic son. They then translated the book, with Naoki's permisson, in the hope that Naoki's book might help others dealing with Autism and generally illuminate the then little-understood condition.

It is a brilliant book, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a child, relative, friend or co-worker who is on the spectrum. Definitely worth a read!

Sunday 25 September 2016

On holidays with little superheroes

We worked out earlier this year that we hadn't been on a decent holiday as a family in about four years. So it was great timing in January that we found out that we were invited to a family wedding in September and that there would be a 70th birthday to go to a week later!

Then came the planning - how would we travel, where would we stay, how long would we go for and so on. Then the questions, how is L going to go on the plane, do we do a night flight and hopefully the little superheroes would sleep all the way, or a day flight and hope the little superheroes behave themselves. The last time L went on a plane, it was a bit of a disaster.

Well, I can happily say that we are on holidays and are loving the break.

Both little superheroes had their melatonin just before we got on our first flight, but alas they both decided that sleep was optional. They did keep themselves busy watching movies and were very well behaved. I can say that it was a loooong 12 hours from the time we left to the time that we arrived.

The little superheroes have had a ball exploring the beach near where we are staying, although I'm not sure who has been having more fun, the little ones or the big over grown kid!

They've created a mini aquarium in the cabin complete with hermit crabs, a lonely little yabby and a little bivalve mollusc. The big over grown kid had a ball converting an empty 2L soft drink bottle into a decent looking aquarium.

We're about to go and release them back at the beach, although L is set on packing them in his suitcase to take on our next leg. Don't think the airline would be happy about that though!

L was fascinated by all the sea creatures at the Aquarium, he wasn't too keen when the Queensland Groper swam by but wanted to get closer to the reef sharks!

O met a real life Mermaid, Magenta, and was in heaven. It was all that she could talk about for the rest of the day!

Both little superheroes had a ball at the Museum, they were in lego heaven, we didn't hear a peep out of them as they built amazing creations, They introduced their Poppy to all the superhero lego!

They've both made new friends, met new cousins to play superhero games with, and caught up with relatives that they haven't seen in a long time.

L is struggling with the concept of being away from his house, each night we have to explain that we're staying here and not going on another airplane just yet. But each day, he is becoming more settled.

And touch wood, we haven't had a major meltdown. We've come close a few times but have been able to distract both of them before we've got to the final stage. L has had to use his head phones a couple of times, it is great to see him recognising when he needs a break!

Now for the next leg in our holiday, wish us luck with the next flight!!

Saturday 24 September 2016

Sometimes I just need to escape.....

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore my little superheroes and would do anything for them, but there are times when I need to escape and do something for me.

As the saying goes "you have to look after yourself before you can look after others" and it is so true.

Last week I was flat out with work, looking after my little superheroes and my husband, and getting everything ready for our holiday that I neglected myself. You know the feeling - your head is stuffy, you have a lingering headache that just won't go away, you feel like you have no energy, you just want to crawl into a warm bed, curl up and go to sleep preferably without the little superheroes in the bed too. Yep, well was me last week but you have to get on with daily life.

I said to my little charges at work that I was going to miss them while I was on leave. Nah, who am I kidding, I'm going to relax and try not to think of them so that I can go back refreshed and ready for next term!

I discovered very quickly into our Autism journey that I needed to find something to do to relax. Be it reading, spending time outdoors, take up a hobby, do some running - I don't run unless I have to so that is out - just something that I could to do to take my mind off of what was happening in our busy household. Something that meant that I could just chill out and relax. Something that I could do late at night when L was in a I-don't-need-to-sleep mood that wouldn't disturb the rest of the family. Something that we could do as a family that didn't cost a lot and was fun.

I love reading, I set myself the task of completing a reading challenge earlier this year. I'm kind of on the way to completing it and I have read quite a few books so far. I've discovered old gems that I'd forgotten about or put off reading and I've also discovered new books that I wouldn't have thought of reading. It has also been great for my little superheroes to see Mum reading a real book, rather than reading an e-version on the iPad or the phone. Nothing beats having a real book to read and it is great role modeling for the little superheroes!

I've also read a heap of publications on Autism, Anxiety, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Disorder and anything that relates to those topics. I figured that the more I read about them, the better informed I would be when going into speak to all the therapists and specialists that we see. If I can keep up to date, then perhaps I can pass the knowledge onto L and O's teachers. I wanted to know what goes through L and O's brains on a daily basis, why they might react to certain things in certain ways. Reading these publications has opened my eyes and made me realise that at times I needed to change the way that I was speaking with O and L.

Gardening - O and L love being outside, playing with our menagerie of animals, digging in the dirt, running around like crazy kids! This year we decided that we'd create a vegie patch in the backyard. It got off to a great start, O and L helped to chose what to plant, it was quite relaxing to go in and create the patch and tend it as well. O's fairy friends came and created a fairy garden for her and a dinosaur garden for L, so they'd be in the patch for hours playing with the bits and pieces that the fairies left behind. And then our rabbit found a way in and the kids "helped" with some weeding. So unfortunately the vegie patch has been a little neglected. It's on the to do list for term 4!

The other way that I relax is to be creative - sewing, cross stitch, crochet, drawing, give me a project and I'll give it a go.

In January this year, I made a list of things to do this year:
  • Teach myself to crochet - I can tick this off my list. I taught myself to crochet by watching youtube clips and not once did I swear or give up or throw everything across the room! Next step is to attempt more complicated patterns.
  • Make an item every week of the year - Yep, can tick this off too. We're up to week 38 and so far I've made 104 items. I've made sensory gear for my little superheroes. I've mastered how to make Bucket Hats as O decided that everyone needs a bucket hat. I've made clothes and toys for my children and their friends. I've made gifts for people, I'm planning to make gifts for my little superheroes teachers. I've made book week costumes for both my little superheroes. I've attempted patterns that I thought were beyond my ability and I've had a ball so far!

  • Rediscover cross stitch. This is something that I used to do all the time and then it fell to side when O came along. Now I just need to work out what to do with the finished pieces.
  • I wanted to finish all the UFO's - or unfinished objects - that I seem to have on my sewing table by the end of the year. Am almost there, only a few to go!
  • I wanted to make resources for O and L - can tick this off the list too. There are so many homemade toys and resources that can be made. Do you know how many common items there are around the house that can be turned into a sensory toy?
It is very satisfying to have an idea of something to create, pick out a pattern or at times draft a pattern from scratch, chose the fabric/wool/cotton and then slowly see the final product come together.

I have noticed that when I don't get the chance to do something for me, I start to fidget and am unable to relax and I become a little anxious. I guess it is a bit how O and L feel at times - they struggle to sit still, they struggle to concentrate and they need to express themselves in a very noisy manner.

When I am sewing - be it hand sewing, machine sewing, cross stitch - I go into my own little world and block out what is happening around me. I can escape from reality for a while!

So if you are on this marvelous journey called Autism, take up a hobby so that you can escape. It's much better than sitting on the bathroom floor crying, trust me!

Sunday 18 September 2016

Questions that are heard on a semi regular basis at Superhero Headquarters, a.k.a. our place!

On any given day at Superhero Headquarters, a.k.a. our place, there are many conversations that would probably confuse most parents but not those who have special needs children. I am secretly hoping that some of the questions have been asked in your household, please tell me that they have! Or at least pretend that these questions have run through your mind to make me feel better!

What would you like for breakfast/lunch/dinner L? No, dog biscuits are not for breakfast/lunch/dinner, they are for the dog.

Do you have any wipes in your car? We've run out of L's special wipes.

Where did you hide the chocolate? (Usually said late at night away from prying ears and eyes) What do you mean, you didn't buy any/you've eaten it all?

Have you given the kids their melatonin?

Did you wash yourself L? Yesterday doesn't count, you need to wash yourself tonight.

Mum! Dad! L is drinking from the dog's water again!

L please go and get dressed. No, you can't go to school in just your jocks. Mrs S and Mrs DC and Mrs S won't like it if you just wear jocks to school!

Maybe we can add that to his IEP?

I'll email L's case manager tomorrow.

Mum! Dad! L is eating the rabbit food again!

L, what dog biscuits does your puppy like? I didn't ask what dog biscuits you like, I asked which ones does R like? Okay, okay, which ones do you and R like?

L, the meal worms are for the quail, not for you!

Where is L going to sleep tonight? Should we try him in his bed?

No. we're not watching a batman cartoon, it is 2am in the morning and it is time for sleep. I have to work tomorrow and you have school.

No, you can't just have tomato sauce for dinner, you need something else too. No tomato sauce won't taste nice on coco pops!

Can you run to the shops to get tomato sauce, we've run out.

What's on the wall in the toilet? Is that poo? It smells like poo, don't touch it!

Have you got extra jocks in your hand bag?

Give our compliments to the chef on the sauce, the fish was very nice but he just wanted to eat the sauce!

Tag, you're it. I need to get some sleep (usually said at about 2am in the morning.)

L has been laying down all afternoon not moving, he doesn't feel hot. Do you want to ring the doctor or do you want me to?

Would you like another coffee?

Mum/Dad, I'm cold, can you come and tuck me in - usually said after O creeps into the room without making a sound and then she leans about 1cm from your face and scare the poo out of you at some silly hour of the morning.

Can we make O's next appointments? How far in advance are we able to make them? November? Great!

No L, this doctor doesn't have the toy room, that is your immunologist. Yes, this doctor has the water machine, let's try not to flood the room this time please.

Can you please make sure that the food isn't touching on the plate, they won't eat if the food is touching each other.

Mum! Dad! L is playing with dog poo! Now he's throwing at me!!

Yes, you do have to wash your hands, you were playing with dog poo! No, you can't have something to eat, you have dog poo on your hands, go and wash them please!

Did you wash your hands? The soap isn't wet? That is not washing your hands, that is just wetting the soap!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

I go Tara school now?

L goes to an early intervention centre once a week and it is quite honestly one of the best things that we have ever done for him. He started in the first week of Term 1 this year. The date will forever be etched into our minds – 2nd of February 2016. It was a new beginning for us.

For those who are not in the know, the early intervention centre is where L and a lot of other children with autism do their therapy. The centre’s staff consists of therapy assistants, early childhood and primary school teachers, speech therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists. The programs are tailored to the children, the children are assessed on a regular occurrence and programs are continually updated. It is an amazing set-up, all the staff are able to get the best out of all the children and I would highly recommend an early intervention centre to anyone wanting to utilize their services.

His very first day at the centre was nerve wrecking for all of us – would they be able to communicate with our boy, will he fit in, will he have fun, will his anxiety set in and a dozen or more other questions.

We needn’t have worried.

L was cautious when we first got to the centre but he was excited at the same time. He did a lot of stimming when we arrived, he explored the outdoor play area and immediately went into the huge sandpit and started digging in the sand. When it was time for me to leave, his separation anxiety set in, but as the staff are very well trained, I felt quite at ease leaving L in their capable hands. The staff phoned within about 10 minutes with the great news that L had calmed down and was quietly playing in the free choice room.

His therapy assistant for term 1 was a lovely caring lady by the name of Tara. L loved Tara, he still does and would eagerly participate in the therapy activities with her. He made the most amazing progress while working with Tara – he still is making amazing progress.

Each session that we arrived at, L would immediately go and hide in a huge concrete tunnel in the outdoor area – it was a game that L and Tara developed. L hasn’t quite grasped the concept of hiding yet, you can see straight through the tunnel, but he would hide in there giggling his bottom off while Tara pretended that she couldn’t see him. They’d then get the superhero capes or trucks and go off to start therapy.

After his first day, the only name he could remember was ‘Tara.’ And then the Autism Centre became “Tara School.” L had had a fantastic day.

Each week after that we went to Tara school, not the Autism Centre. Even on the days that L was to go to school, he’d do some wheeling and dealing to try and go to Tara school instead.
L would say – “My school too hard, I go Tara school and Harry come too?”

O has tried on numerous occasions to convince L that it isn’t called Tara school and the conversation generally goes like this:

O: “L, you’re going to the Autism Centre today.”
L: “No, I go to Tara school.”
O: “Tara works there but it is called the Autism Centre.”

The conversations never end well! The centre has since had a name change and we still cannot convince L that it isn’t called Tara School. The name has stuck!

At the beginning of each term, the therapy assistants are moved around so that the children become used to the idea of change. At the beginning of second term, L went straight in and over to Tara. He looked very disappointed when Tara explained that she had to help someone else but that one of her friends would help him.

Each of L’s therapy assistants have been absolutely wonderful but they’ve all come to realization very quickly that their work place, to L anyway, is now called Tara’s school and that his most favourite person there is Tara. He mightn’t always acknowledge Tara, but he always checks out of the corner of his eye to make sure that she is there. And on the occasions that he can’t see Tara, he’ll go and find out where she is. He’s not happy until he knows that his favourite person is there.

L has made quite a few friends of varying ages, nationalities, boys and girls at the centre. They all just get each other. They mightn’t talk all that much all the time, but they enjoy each other’s company and they have a tonne of fun!

We still have rough drop offs but L now settles very quickly. He still seeks out Tara! The early intervention centre has been a god send to us. L has made progress in the past 9 months that we haven’t seen in the three and a half years prior to him starting there.

Progress to the point that all of his therapy assistants are truly amazed at how well he is doing. One of his last therapy sessions, L was making sure that all his friends were included in the game. He worked out during one game that Kira, his current therapy assistant, hadn’t had a go, so he made her join in. Kira then decided that she would give L some responsibility during craft and got him to hand out the playdoh to everyone.  Nine months ago he wouldn’t have been able to do that!

So from the bottom of my heart to everyone at Tara’s school, thank you for looking after my boy. We’re very grateful for the time and effort that you all put in.

Sunday 11 September 2016

What does Autism look like?

Just lately I've heard of and read quite a few posts on Facebook and other sites where people have stated certain individuals can't be autistic because "they don't look Autistic" and other similar comments. Comments along these lines really get under my skin as I feel they undermine what families have gone through to obtain a diagnosis and it just makes it harder for those with Autism to be accepted for who they are.

I was having this conversation with O's psychologist a few weeks ago, that people have certain ideas of what Autism should look like and then when they meet someone who doesn't fit that description, they struggle to comprehend that Autism can present differently. If an individual is physically disabled, people accept that, you can see the disability as it is there in full view, no questions are asked, society accepts them. When the disability is hidden as Autism often is, society seems to struggle to accept it.

We've been told by quite a few people, including medical professionals, that L can't be Autistic because he doesn't look Autistic. He doesn't fit the typical stereotype that many people have of Autism. People have said to us "but he can talk" or "he doesn't flap his arms all the time" or "he looks normal."

My response to them is: "tell me what you think Autism looks like and I'll show you what Autism can look like."

Dr Judith Gould, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director at the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism has said that "Autism is more diverse than originally thought, with new ideas being put forward every day. In fact, it's a case of 'the more we know, the less we know', particularly in how gender affects individuals with autism."

Autism can present in many ways. Autism is generally characterised by difficulties in behaviour, social interactions, communication and sensory sensitivities. While these characteristics are common amoung those diagnosed as being on the spectrum, they are not necessarily exhibited by all people on the autism spectrum. It's why it is called Autism Spectrum Disorder - it's a spectrum and a very broad spectrum at that.

I have worked with many children who are on the spectrum, and I have not yet come across a child who is the same as another, they have all presented differently. I've worked with a child who was completely non-verbal and needed substantial assistance in all areas. I've worked with a delightful girl who was incredibly social and had difficulties with communication but when she sang, you could understand every word. I've worked with a child, that unless you had been told that he was on the spectrum, you would never know. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Some children are diagnosed early in life, others are not diagnosed until later in life. L was a different baby to O. He was different from other children his age and we just knew that there was something about him that was concerning. It took 3 and a half years for someone to take us seriously. He was late to hit all his milestones, he did things that were unusual, he's always had sensory sensitivities, he's always lined things up, he's always had sleep issues and the list goes on.

O on the other hand was no different from other children the same age as her. It is only in the last year or so, that we've begun to suspect that maybe she could be on the spectrum. At first we just thought that perhaps it was because we were more aware of Autism due to L's diagnosis that we were now picking up traits in O. But in talking to our pediatrician and O's psychologist, the traits were always there but they didn't stand out as being "odd" so we didn't suspect anything.

Medical professionals are now beginning to realise that Autism traits in girls often present differently to that of the traits in boys. In some cases the traits don't start presenting until girls reach the age of 6 or 7 or often in their teenage years. At times, females aren't diagnosed until adulthood when they go through the diagnosis process with their own children and realise "hang on, I think I may be on the spectrum."

It is thought that women and girls who have been diagnosed as being on the spectrum are better at masking their difficulties as young children in order to fit in better with their peers. Girls are just better at covering up the more obvious characteristics of the disorder. In Asperger's and girls, Tony Attwood states that "girls are more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation because they observe other children and copy them, perhaps masking the symptoms." Girls may pick someone in their class and they copy everything about that person: how they dress, how they act, how they talk, so that they fit in.

The social difficulties may therefore be less obvious and as such a diagnosis is not made because they haven't met the criteria or they are misdiagnosed. This masking behaviour generally isn't seen in boys diagnosed with autism.

Girls are generally more aware of the need to be social, many feel the need to interact socially and while they will be involved in social play, they may be led by their peers rather than initiating the social contact. (Gould & Ashton-Smith, 2011)

As girls become older, they may find it more difficult to copy their peers and they may struggle to understand social situations or start struggling emotionally, and that is when the traits start to show themselves.

Other studies have suggested that features often associated with autism such as attention and socialisation, as well as concerns about depression, higher levels of emotion and anxiety are often reported more in girls than in boys (Holtmann, Bolte & Poustkaet, 2007.)

This year, O has started saying that she doesn't understand how some girls at school act or why they talk the way they do. O has always been an anxious child, but in the last year, her anxiety has gone through the roof. With these traits now emerging, we've begun the diagnosis process for O. While she doesn't struggle academically, she does need help socially and emotionally. And now we can see that girls, at times, do present differently. O is presenting completely different to how L presented.

I definitely don't profess to being an expert on Autism. The one thing that I do to profess to knowing is that every individual with Autism is different from the next. We're experiencing it first hand with our little superheroes.

So the next time you hear someone say "they can't be autistic, they don't look like it" what is your answer going to be?

Holtmann, M., Bolte, S. & Poustkaet, F. (2007) Autism Spectrum Disorders: Sex differences in autistic behaviour domains and coexisting psychopathology.

Gould, J. & Ashton-Smith, J. (2011) Missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis? Girls and women on the autism spectrum.

Tuesday 6 September 2016

What is it? Is it a tantrum or is it a meltdown?

One of the biggest issues that we deal with on a daily basis at Superhero Headquarters is behaviour. I know that all parents have to deal with behavioural issues but disciplining a child on the autism spectrum is, at times, a little more stressful than disciplining a NT child.

Before we finally got a diagnosis for L, actually long before we even started the assessment process for L, we had a lot of well meaning people, well I hope that they were well meaning and not just arrogant sods, try to give us advice on how to deal with L’s behaviour. We were told that we should attend parenting classes as what we were doing obviously was not working – and yet it was working for O. We were told “oh he’s just being a typical boy” and “he’s just showing his true colours” – what???? We were told “if you just ignore him, the tantrums will stop” – we tried that too and guess what, they didn’t, he’d just keep going.

L’s tantrums, well we were told that they were tantrums, were one of the many reasons that we continued to seek advice from medical professionals. It was only when we started doing a little reading that we came to the realization that he was in meltdown mode and then everything started to make sense. Sure, there were times and still are times when he is just chucking a tantrum but the majority of his and his sisters are meltdowns.

You see a tantrum has a defined want – it starts over a desire to want something, the child will often look at you to gauge your reaction and a tantrum will stop and start with ease. Quite often the child will stop when a) they get what they want or b) they realise that they aren’t getting the reaction that they wanted. You can reason with a child having a tantrum, you can sort of talk with them to help them calm down. During a tantrum, the child is in control of what they are doing and they may make demands – “I’ll stop if you let me watch TV.”

A meltdown on the other hand is a huge weather front that at times you can see brewing, that you just have to let run its course. A meltdown is not goal orientated. A meltdown is usually caused by the child being in sensory overload by the environment around them – too much noise, too many people, change in routines, bright lights, tiredness, strange smells. During a meltdown, the child has no interest in how you are reacting to them, they’re not in control and may injure themselves because they’re not aware of their surroundings. Meltdowns can be very, very slow to end. Meltdowns are noisy and they suck the energy out of the child and at times, out of the parent and siblings.

Now like many parents with children on the spectrum, I can see potential triggers from a mile away. I will go out of my way to avoid said triggers. I have an arsenal of distractions in my hand bag so that if I’m not able to avoid the triggers, I can at least attempt to disarm the triggers and try to make outings easier for my little superheroes. And if all these don’t work, there’s really no need to sound any alarms, my little superheroes screams will be warning enough to those around us that something is wrong. For you see, when either of my children reach meltdown stage, bombs away!! There is absolutely nothing that can be said or done to talk them out of that mode.

This is not to say that we just let them go – c’mon sing with me, let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Sorry totally off tangent, not that let it go! Sometimes, the little superheroes just have to scream it out and other times, they are receptive to us cuddling or trying to distract them.

Just like I know what my little superheroes triggers are, I know that sometimes I just have to let them get all their anger and frustration out. They need to yell and scream and throw things. Sometimes I am just so emotionally and mentally spent, that in that moment I just throw my hands up, wish that someone would send me to time out, walk away, take a deep breath, count to ten and go back in for more.

Sometimes I can sense that I will be able to calm them down quicker if I sit with them. No talking, no cuddling, just sit and be with them until they’re ready to come to me.

And then finally, they’ll come crawling over for a reassuring cuddle and ask for a tissue. I’ll wipe their face and start thinking that maybe, just maybe the storm has finally passed and I’ll also be hoping like hell that they’re not recharging for round two. And then I’ll find L’s green blanket or O’s bitty bug, sit on the couch/bed/bathroom floor cuddling them and waiting for them to fall asleep.

They expend so much energy during a meltdown, that they’ll often fall asleep afterwards and that’s when my heart breaks and my tears will flow as I know that at times, there is absolutely nothing that I can do or say to stop a meltdown. I just have to be there for them so that through the meltdown fog, they know that we love them and are there for them no matter what.

And I remind myself that the behaviour wasn’t done on purpose, it was done for a purpose. L or O were trying to tell me something but in that moment weren’t able to express themselves using words.

I’ll then begin to wonder: how many grey hairs have I got now? Is that the phone ringing or my ears? Did the neighbours hear all that and are the police on the way? Can you lose hearing due to the screaming level of a child?

So the next time you see what you think is just a bratty kid having a temper tantrum because they’re not getting his/her way, please look again. It might be a temper tantrum in full swing or it in fact might be a child not coping in the environment and trying to tell his/her parents something. And please don’t give a condescending look to the parents, they are doing their best, they’re doing what’s best for their child. They might just be on this marvelous journey called Autism.

Saturday 3 September 2016

Super Dad

With Father's day tomorrow, I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you about my little superheroes Dad.

He is a wonderful Dad. L said he loves Dad more than Batman, and that is a big thing, Batman is huge in our house. O said she loves Dad more than Harley Quinn.

He is the one that will sit and watch Batman cartoons or any cartoon for that matter at any time of the day or night. He's just a big kid at heart.

He will have photo after photo with the same Storm troopers or walk around to find the right Batman at Oz Comicon and Supernova because he knows how happy it will make our little superheroes. And it brings out his inner geek!

He puts up with my little superheroes helping him outside at the tool bench when he's trying to build, fix or modify something for the little superheroes. He  secretly loves them helping, even though they might take off with a screwdriver or hammer at times.

He has taught them that chocolate is a food group :) And he will share chocolate and licorice with our little superheroes even though he's a huge chocoholic and didn't like to share chocolate when he first met :)

He would sleep with our little superheroes on his chest when they were newborns so that I could have a night off or a sleep in.

He will let our little superheroes colour in his tattoo or draw more tattoos on his arms and legs or let them paint his nails even though he has an important work meeting the next day.

He has taught them that it is funny to blame others if they let rip with gas, and they will freely blame Daddy, even if he's not home!

He will face time with our little superheroes when he's on the other side of Australia or the world, even if it's 3 in the morning because he knows that it will help them to settle.

He will let them talk to his best friend, or Uncle Murph to our little superheroes, on the phone even if they haven't had a conversation in months, because O just loves her Uncle Murph.

He's been there for myself and our little superheroes, just because we needed him.

So to my little superheroes Dad and my husband, thank you for being an awesome funny patient Dad. I know this journey can be frustrating but it's fun and there's never a dull moment. Even though they have a funny way of showing it, our little superheroes truly do appreciate everything that you do for them and so do I. As O says "we love you to the galaxies and back." Thanks for being a super dad!

Thursday 1 September 2016

Angry Octopus review by Miss O

*** Please note that we do not receive commissions for any kind for this review, 
it is simply a book that we have found useful. ***

We've decided to get our little superheroes involved in the blog. Miss O struggles with anxiety and we've got a few books that seem to help. This is one of her favourites.

1. What is the title of the book?
Angry Octopus

2. Who is the author?
Lori Lite

3. What is the book about?
An octopus that had a lovely garden and then 3 lobsters ruined his garden and he got really angry and he couldn't control his feelings. A little mermaid helps him to calm down with breathing exercises.

4. Do you like this book? Why do you like this book?
Yes, because it helps me to calm down when I'm angry or sad. I like the stretches that the little mermaid tells the octopus to do and they help me relax.

5. Would you recommend this book to other kids and why would you recommend it?
Yes because I'm a nice girl and I think it would help my friends because it helps me. And because I like to help other kids if they're angry.

6. Out of 5 stars,  what do you rate this book?
5 stars!

From a parents perspective, this is a well written book that provides the reader with calming techniques to use, in the form of breathing exercises and stretches. Miss O will usually ask one of us to read it to her after she's had a meltdown. It does seem to work better when we read the book, as she can just lay down and concentrate on her breathing. 

And no, we aren't related to the author, nor do we receive anything for reviewing the book,  I just wanted to share a fantastic resource that we've found.

Happy reading!