Different things matter to different people, share those issues that matter most to you and awareness raise to get other people interested and aware!!
A child doesn’t have to be on the Autistic Spectrum to be difficult to buy for, however when they’re not able to verbalise what they’d like to have as a new present, or often not willing to accept new things into their lives or a change of activity into their routine without it turning into a melt down it makes it a massive challenge for everyone at times like Christmas and Birthdays.
As we seemed to hit gold with Theo this birthday I thought I’d share a review of his new found favourite educational toy and all the benefit’s we’ve found to go along with it!
Here I introduce to you the LeapReader made by LeapFrog,
- Access to the internet is required!
The LeapReader is an audio pen that allows the child to interact with books, maps and activity sets to aid in developing skills such as listening, reading and writing. Discovering through stories and games with favourite characters such as Disney, Cbeebies, Nickelodeon to name a few in area’s such as Mathematics, Social Studies, Science in a fun and hidden way!
To get started you charge the pen, you are provided with a USB connection lead, connect to an internet accessible computer, and follow the instructions to install LeapFrog Connect. This tool gives you easy access to the application store where you can find the download resources for the books that you buy. Connect also gives you a link to the Learning Path which gives you a history of your child’s usage of the LeapReader, details which books are most commonly read, activities most commonly used and suggest new material that your child may be interested in!
Once you’ve downloaded the audio software for the products that you’ve purchased it’s all go! Jump from book to book, page to page, map back to book, if it’s installed it’ll automatically recognise the item and take you on that learning adventure. So the child can just pick it up and play!
The positives that we’ve found with Theo
- Bigger interest in books
- More word repetition (maybe doesn’t know how to use the word in sense but has increased his vocabulary!)
- Improved fine motor skills
- Improved concentration time on specific subjects
- Introduced new topics of interest
- Improved social sharing to include others to read with him
I admit that the books and accessories to go with the LeapReader can be quite expensive however I’ve found that on www.amazon.co.uk you can buy lots cheaper! You just have to be very careful that you’re buying for the LeapReader and NOT the LeapTag system.
When I was working as a Youth Worker in Community Learning and Development for Dumfries and Galloway Council I had to give a presentation to both young people and other service providers to show what had inspired me into my post and what my beliefs were for healthy communities to work together without discrimination.
Growing up myself I faced a lot of issues and wasn’t able to find the support that I craved from the right people. When I found the support from the most unlikely place ever my goal for my career was to make sure that no young person ever thought that they were not “The kid who wouldn’t amount to much” and that by not listening to the abuse and discrimination they could be anything they wanted to be as there are other sources of support to empower them too. Yes … They could be “The one who landed the Rock Stars job”.
I detest discrimination, each off my children have faced it because of their different health issues. Never to be one for being backwards at coming forwards telling anyone of any age, status, background or social status … I advise them of their faults and direct them to “Never think that they’re all that special as not even Google has all the right answers” and that their air that they’re breathing costs exactly the same as everyone else’s.
Respect is an amazing thing when you’ve earned it. it’s the biggest punchline ever when people think that the world owes them it!!
Oh the issues in our house around this time of the year!!
Theo doesn’t like dressing up, doesn’t like the door being knocked on making the dog’s bark, doesn’t like seeing other people dressed up so that he doesn’t know who they are so Halloween certainly is a challenging time for the poor little soul. It’s even worse when less than a week later we celebrate Guy Fawkes and his escapades by lighting fireworks that light up the sky and make noises when it’s supposed to be Theo’s down time.
I’m absolutely at my wick’s end around bonfire night (Guy Fawkes) because Theo’s anxiety levels are so high they’re lunar and he’s absolutely terrified. The only way he can settle is by going to bed listening to the radio on his ear defenders and closing his eyes so tightly it’s uncomfortable to settle. The sensory overload of visual and audible unpredictability for hours and hours of the night makes him so scared within his own safe space.
The curtain’s have to be closed that he can’t see any little piece of window pane, he has to be under a blanket incase he needs to hide his face if there’s too many flashes at once, his ear defenders have to play the radio … just incase they don’t block out all the noise! I can’t be too far away from him, infact he almost insists on constant body contact with me, this year he cried every and I mean EVERY time Dad left the house. Unfortunately when he’s had an upset like this it can take weeks … And I mean weeks … All this began 5th November and he’s still having troubles from the night … He still doesn’t feel safe in his home 😦
It’s absolutely heart wrenching to watch him so upset knowing that there’s absolutely nothing that we’re able to do to make it all better. I genuinely wish that organised events away from our house were all that was available to the people celebrating and that they were as far away from Theo’s safe space so that he was oblivious to what was going on.
Here’s a little look at him trying to get settled for the night …
Having a scroll down my Facebook friend updates I found myself absolutely inspired by a post that a fantastic UK based Autism Awareness group shared. Personally I think the author is brilliant in wording her Autism life experience into a comparison that anyone would be able to understand wholeheartedly! I simply had to share with you’s all!! If you’re on Facebook like the group … Their posts are always inspiring!! Links given at the bottom of the post.
The post went as follows …
Before You Complain
Before you complain about your child waking up too early….
Imagine if your child didn’t sleep at all because their brain and body couldn’t connect correctly…or if they woke up for 3 hours in the middle of the night just because
Before you complain that your child is ignoring you or not listening…
Imagine if your child didn’t acknowledge your presence, didn’t even realize you were there, didn’t respond to their own name or even a loud BANG
Before you complain that your child constantly wants you to play and won’t play by themselves…
Imagine if your child NEVER wanted to play with you or freaked out if you attempted to play with them
Before you complain that your child won’t stop talking….
Imagine if your child couldn’t talk or if your 3+ year old couldn’t even call you mama
Before you complain that your child’s insurance has a deductible or high copay…
Imagine if your child’s insurance had a high deductible and high copays…AND doesn’t even cover what your child needs, even after paying the deductibles and copays
Before you complain about your child throwing a tantrum because they can’t get their way….
Imagine if that tantrum was so extreme that the child was screaming(like they were being tortured) for hours, punching the walls, hitting themselves or you, banging their head on the floor, etc….and even if you give them what they wanted, they are so deep in that meltdown, that it doesn’t help. Or worse, if there’s no apparent reason for the meltdown.
Before you complain that your child had a potty accident….
Imagine if your 10+ year old was still in diapers (that you have to change) because their body doesn’t work right or their body is so undersensitive that they can’t feel when they have to go.
Before you complain that the schools don’t give your child all they need….
Imagine if your child needed special schooling and 20+ hours of therapy per week and wasn’t able to get any of it
Before you complain that your child won’t eat their peas…
Imagine if there were only 4 specific foods that your child would eat(not necessarily because they’re picky) and nothing else.
Before you complain that your child is whining….
Imagine if you couldn’t understand what they were whining about.
Before you complain that your child is too emotional….
Imagine if your child didn’t show any emotion…not even happiness
Before you complain that your child is always catching colds….
Imagine if your child has been to the ER so many times you can even guesstimate how many…you’re on a first name basis with the nurses…you have no clue how many times you’ve answered the exact same questions, sometimes to the same person
Before you complain that you don’t get enough alone time or enough breaks…..
Imagine all of the above….and even less alone time and less breaks because there are only a couple people that can handle your child or know enough about your child to make you feel confident leaving them
Before you complain….
Imagine what other some parents deal with on a daily basis…and never complain or ask for anything for themselves. All they do is pray that their child will get the help they need…and that others might be a little more sensitive.
Wrote by Nikki Hazzard Bumgardner
Links – Will open in another page (if it behaves!)
Autism Storms and Rainbows UK – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Storms-and-Rainbows/152663228214371
Direct link to the post – http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=260237034123656&id=152663228214371
These thoughts are what can come from being a completely selfless human being, giving care to a friend or a loved one who is dependant on you and has entrusted you to serve their care duties. If there is one care giver in this world that states that they haven’t had at least one of these thoughts pop into their heads, I’d be the first person to stand there and tell them that they’re lying. I myself have felt low, jealous, constantly tired, so on and so forth because I overworked myself and didn’t give myself the chance to have a little bit of “Me Time”.
It wasn’t until I got with Stuart after having years of very limited support with Theo, I realised that I didn’t have to do everything myself, if I was feeling low he’d take Theo out and give me the chance to catch up on some sleep or have a shower or do the dishes or just do something where I didn’t have to be 100% alert as to what he was doing. I felt guilty as sin that he was doing it and I had no option but to accept the fact that he was doing it because it was his way or no way.
Once I’d gotten over the whole self indulged guilt trip and realised that he was doing a fantastic thing and improving my care for Theo I finally accepted things as they were. That little bit of time that he was giving me for what ever reason absolutely improved my relationship with Theo, it improved his bond with Theo (to the point where he now classes him as Dad), it also gave him the chance to help Ali, Theo and Alex a better relationship as they all seen that the way forwards was a family unit, not Mummy doing it all. All round that man has worked wonders for our little family.
However … back to my point … Are you a caregiver that’s felt any of those feelings or had any of those thoughts? Are you a friend of a caregiver (no matter what the situation is) that has noticed changes that could be fitted around any of those thoughts or feelings in their friend? Make a difference for yourself and the fantastic work that you do … Have a little bit of “You Time!”.
Before your time of being a care giver, did you have a hobby you used to take part in that you gave up? Did you have friends that you never get the time to speak too face to face any more? Did you meditate? Did you go swimming? Did you do anything that you’re now always thinking that you’d love just half an hour to yourself to do? Is there something new you’d like to be able to try? Do you want to learn how to knit, embroider, cross stitch, play a musical instrument, is there a cupboard that needs cleaned out that would give you so much pleasure out of finally getting it done? … you probably get the point by now … But this is your chance to grasp it!
If you are lucky enough to have someone that the person you care for and yourself trusts to take over the duties for half an hour, an hour, two hours … probably pushing it but … over night?! Ask them! They’ve probably been sitting on the edge of their seats wanting to offer to help out however not wanted to offend you or diminish the fantastic job that you’ve been doing so thought it best to wait until you asked them. (Or if you are that person that would love the opportunity speak to the Angel and offer!). Lets face it, the worst that can happen is be told “No” … You’ll have been told worse in your life at one point or another!
If you haven’t got anyone that you can turn too, when the person you’re caring for is in bed at night, out at a meeting/school/playgroup or so on n so forth, Grant yourself a little piece of that time to indulge yourself in something for you! All the other jobs and tasks and routines can be arranged around it, just give yourself that time!!
My challenge to all Caregivers
Start with half an hour through out a week, even if it’s 5 mins one day, 10 another etc. Just give yourself that time to get your mind away from the thoughts above and 100% back onto the job.
Think of it along the lines of … You’re not being selfish because you’re doing something for yourself … You are improving the perfection on the care because you have done something for yourself!