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 EVERYtime 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 …
From an early age we’ve had to incorporate PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) into his life which on a day to day basis he’s still using now – At home he doesn’t really need them unless his routine is changing however at school they’ve a picture for everything!
In the beginning when we started using PECS with Speech and Language support, we kept it simple to introduce the cards to him, if we were going to the park we’d show him the park card, if he was going for a bath we’d show him the bath card so on n so forth. Trying to get him to focus on the cards to start with was a bit of a nightmare but he clicked that if he showed me the card of what he wanted to do he was rewarded with the task that the card showed (the park card was deffo his favourite!).
Once we’d got to grips with using cards for EVERYTHING we started using it to schedule his time. We got a laminated card and stuck velcro down the middle, Laminated all the PECS cards and stuck velcro to the back of them also. This way the reward for Theo was taking each picture card off with the completion of the task and it showed that he was finished with that part of the day!
In this picture we’ve got “Bath”, Pajamas” and “Bed”, this was organising his bedtime routine! He knew that he wasn’t getting TV before bed, so he wasn’t expecting it!
When Theo had gotten used to using the cards as a routine guide we started giving him the option of two cards for a task that he’d like to do. He’d get the option of “Toys” or “Books” or “TV”. Theo loved this because he knew when he’d done something that we wanted him to do he was getting rewarded with a task he’d chose!
The only problem that we came across with the cards was that when he was going through his colour obsession if the card didn’t match the colour of the object he’d refuse to take part or it’d cause a meltdown! Say the packet of crisps for snack time on the card was green and I was handing him a red packet – he’d refuse, scream, throw them away etc. However I found the way to get round that was to print the picture out in either an outline or a grey scale picture! Problem solved – Thankfully!
I’ve found a couple of sites online that do free cards/samples which I’ve listed below, before spending a fortune on software that you can print out speak to your Speech and Language Therapist they’ve always supplied ours so we’ve never had to go to the expense! Also its always worth a google search!