The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response.

It is ‘triggered’ by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can be avoided or reduced.

Matson et al (2009) reported that 94.3% of children on the autism spectrum have been reported to display some form of Challenging behaviours. Many are based on sensory overload, reactions and anxiety.

Picture a crying new-born, a screaming and thrashing two-year-old, a dad standing there with bath stuff gobsmacked, and a mother distressed on so many levels. This was supposed to be a beautiful moment where the big brother bonded with his new sister by helping with the first bath. No bingo! The seriousness of how much distress and fear this created for our little boy was heart-breaking.

Every time a tap was turned on, the sound of the water running would result in an extremely distressed child. Screaming, terror and total distress made the simple task of turning on a tap a nightmare.

If you think about how often we use taps during the day- it didn’t take much for us to realise what a challenge this trigger was going to be. The irony- dad is a plumber.

So what did we do? We established that taps are essential for hygiene and daily life, so it was necessary that we assist our child in managing the trigger, reducing the stress it created and getting things under control.

We started with a warning, the words “Tap On”.

We turned the tap on for five seconds, and we counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and then we turned the tap off.

Slowly, very slowly, we built the time up. Mister hated the noise, and there was still lots of screaming, but with forewarning and counting, we were able to give this horrible ordeal some predictability.

Predictability was key.

His anxiety was lessened, as the process of the tap-sound wasn’t as much of a shock because he could anticipate what was coming, and he knew it would end.

Using anticipation with an end is a winner for Spectrum kids. First _____ then _______ formula reduces anxiety and prepares the child for what comes next. So first, we will turn the tap on, there will be a noise, and then it will end with a “shhhhh” sound. We started calling this preparation technique with noises’ noise control.’

We are happy to report that our household is using taps, running showers. Baths are very noisy, so we tend to still shut the door whilst we fill up the bath, but there are no tears or distress. Keeping in mind that we have not cured Mister’s sensitivity to the sound, but we have helped him gain some noise control.

There are times when we are out, public toilets, family and friend’s houses, and taps are on. The sound of gushing water is a fact of life, and although always wary, now we cope.

If you identify that noise is a huge trigger, offering “control over the noise can be a complete game-changer.

Examples include allowing your child to control the noise and therefore lessen the fear. For instance, turning on a vacuum; we give a warning and let M turn the vacuum on and off.

When trying to work out triggers, you take on the role of sensory detective. Are there too many devices going on in the environment you are in? What lights are going? What sounds can you identify? Ask these questions to assist in working out the spectrum environment.

If your little person has sensory issues; it is really important to consider each environment. I frequently and politely ask clothing store assistants to turn down their music for ten minutes while we shop- most are more than happy to oblige. Give warnings of sounds that are going to happen (starting the beaters, using a drill, banging a hammer, turning on music). Informing our little guy of where the noise is coming from, what it is and that it will pass evaporates the fear and allows us to participate in daily activities.

Ask yourself if there are any aides you can use for triggers noise-cancelling headphones, earmuffs, sunglasses and hats can be really useful to ward off lots of noise and the glare of fluro store lights.

Observation is the key to identifying triggers and the way in which to do this is ‘slow it down.’

When life is calm, and you can be truly observant, you can genuinely begin to assist.

Want to Ponder Autism more with us?

Stay tuned for our next article. Ponderings have managed to affiliate with Planet Spectrum and are pleased to offer you this link to the free resource The Flight Manual.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response. It is 'triggered' by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can...

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be passionate about a particular subject or object..

Five Tips For Homeschooling

Homeschooling has always felt like more of an alternative option.
So what does one do when school is not an option, and they are left at home wondering and perhaps freaking out about where to start… Breath, we’ve got you covered!

Five Tips for Helping Families with Autism

Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum are a part of our community. If you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member with Autism, you may find yourself wondering how you can best help. In one of the largest studies of its kind, Ruth L. Fischbach PhD...
Special Interests- They’re Important!

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? 

 

It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be very passionate about a particular subject or object. A less friendly term thrown around is ‘obsession’. Be it trains, cars, horses, clocks, washing machines, necklaces, dinosaurs… you name it!

There have been many connections, breakthroughs, learning opportunities and tricky situations navigated all thanks to embracing passions and as we lovingly refer to them as motivators!.

According to the National Autistic Society:

Autistic people often report that the pursuit of such interests is fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness, and many channel their interest in studying, paid work, volunteering, or other meaningful occupation. The interest can:

 

  • provide structure, order and predictability, and help people cope with the uncertainties of daily life
  • give someone a way to start conversations and feel more self-assured in social situations
  • help someone to relax and feel happy

 

 

My little guy’s first passion was clocks passion was ‘clocks’. He was infatuated! Mister would see clocks and be so excited and full of joy. His happy flapping could have powered a wind farm!

 

We used his love of clocks to get us through many situations. When we had appointments in town, we would look at clocks and we would use them to redirect when stress was starting to build- “Oh look M there’s a clock let’s go and see if we can find more.” Often this was just the trick to get an anxious and almost frozen child to keep moving and coping.

 

We would allow ‘extra’ time so that there was always enough to look at clocks, so that we could provide a positive experience in a less than positive sensory environment, like the shopping plaza. As mentioned, shopping centres and plazas can be a nightmare for people with Autism. They are a sensory powerhouse led with many sounds, colours, people, bright lights, smells and textures.

 

When we visited health professionals, we could have a hard time. In his early days, Mister could not stand anybody looking, talking or touching him. Again we used his love of clocks to coax him into calm, while providing an excellent distraction.

 

Preparation, like any social outing, was essential. We wanted Mister to be as amicable as possible with the health professional, so before we went in for a consultation we would prepare; “Hmmm M, I wonder if the doctor has a watch? When we go into the doctor’s room, let’s see if she has a watch or a clock in there.” This would have a child going from a level of anxiety that had shut down potential to excitement about the possibility of seeing a clock or watch-let me in! We would start the consultation with “Hi doctor, we were wondering if you have a watch or clock in your of office?”

By this stage, Mister would have already spotted a clock on the wall but be able to connect with the doctor as he searched their arm for a watch. This would be followed by whatever conversation needed to be had by the professional- but we would often use more detail if M was becoming distressed or anxious. We would redirect back to the passion. “Oh M, look it’s a blue watch! Can you see it ticking?” You get the idea…bring it back to the passion where possible. The special interest is so familiar and has the potential to provide calm.

We learnt to use Mister’s passions for motivation! Many a clock collection was found on YouTube and used for rewards.

After the clock phase, M branched out to necklaces and washing machines. Necklaces were brilliant. Shopping trips included jewellery store crawls and frequent stop ins to admire bling. It also meant a barrier breakdown between Mister and people, particularly therapists.

We used Mister’s special interests to engage anywhere and everywhere we could. During speech, via daily play and just living. Through showing an interest in Mister’s passion, we were able to engage with Mister like never before, even without words.

The few times I have had to be away for the day I have brought back cheap necklaces so we were able to build that association of when mum goes, it’s a good thing. You can see how I’ve used the love of necklaces to alter an anxious situation fraught with separation anxiety into acceptance.

When Mister was on a food strike, I’d sometimes set up beads and string for threading. He would be threading, and I would be spoon-feeding. Not an ideal eating situation, but this example reiterates how helpful it can be to use special interests, and how they can provide a platform to cope and get through.

 

So what happens if your Spectrum Kid doesn’t have a special interest?

Our other poppet doesn’t seem to have such special interests. What now? For Miss, it’s all about talking, drawing and craft. So I guess you could call this kind of style her special interest. If Miss has a task that has something to do with her hands, this equals a happy and content disposition. If not, then this equals a whole lot of anxiety and when she doesn’t know what to do it leads to panic. Trust me when I say there have been plenty of days where we have done more craft than Mister Maker.

When we embrace these passions and special interests, we are able to connect with individuals, motivate, value, share and engage.

I have heard it said by lots of people that the ‘obsession’ part of Autism drives them mad, and new distractions need to be found. But if the apparent ‘obsession’ isn’t harmful to anyone, it can be a beautiful doorway into your child’s heart and mind.

Want to Ponder Autism more with us?

Stay tuned for our next article. Ponderings have managed to affiliate with Planet Spectrum and are pleased to offer you this link to the free resource The Flight Manual.

The Land of “Doors must be closed, and lids must be on”. Let’s talk Triggers.

On Planet Spectrum when we refer to a trigger, we are referring to something that creates a behavioural response. It is 'triggered' by something.There are triggers that need to be managed because they are an everyday part of life, and then there are triggers that can...

Special Interests- They’re Important!

Who knew threading beads and a trip to the laundromat could mean your kid would eat casserole? It is common for those on Planet Spectrum to be passionate about a particular subject or object..

Five Tips For Homeschooling

Homeschooling has always felt like more of an alternative option.
So what does one do when school is not an option, and they are left at home wondering and perhaps freaking out about where to start… Breath, we’ve got you covered!

Have You Ever Wondered What You Would Say To Your 21 year Old Self?

Have You Ever Wondered What You Would Say To Your 21 year Old Self?

Have you ever wondered what you would say to your 21 year old self looking back on where you’ve been and what you’ve done since then?  

If you had to write a letter now, would you say you should have taken more risks or travelled more; would you suggest saving more money or living more in the moment? Well Postcards from Tomorrow is a collection of letters from 270+ amazing women to their 21 year old selves – and they are telling it like it is!

I am so excited to be part of this project and have my letter published in this collection, which is now in print. Kim Chandler McDonald, the inspirational woman behind the initiative, approached me last year, just before the Australian LGBTI awards ceremony in Sydney, to ask if I’d be interested in writing a letter for the book. I instantly fell in love with the idea; I loved that the funds raised would go to Lou’s Place.

Lou’s Place, which is celebrating 21 years of giving service, is currently the only daytime drop in centre in Sydney, for women in crisis. 

At Lou’s they can access a wide range of professional services and support, for situations that include major issues like homelessness, domestic violence, childhood experiences of abuse and neglect, mental illness and addictions. Sometimes it’s as simple as being a welcoming place where they can enjoy a warm lunch and feel safe to just ‘be’.

Having organisations like Lou’s Place, where there is someone you can reach out to, talk to and who listens is so important. Without refuges, like these where would women in crisis go?  

For all of their 21 years in operation, Lou’s has run totally on donations and one of the many reasons I’m so pleased to be part of the Postcards From Tomorrow project is that all of the proceeds are being donated to Lou’s Place, through their Marmalade Foundation, to help them keep on doing what they’re doing. 

 

I know you will find these letters thought provoking and inspiring. 

All of the women involved are inspirational in their own right and have the  common bond of wanting to share part of themselves with others – not only impart our thoughts but also share our knowledge and wisdom. Some of the letters are heartbreaking and some absolutely hilarious. No two are alike, but they all share a similar theme: no matter how bad it was… it gets better. This isn’t a collection of letters from victims; it’s not about surviving, it’s all about thriving. #WeGotThis.

So I implore everyone to let curiosity get the better of them and purchase this great book. At the same time as being inspired when you read this book you will also be supporting a great cause. The eBook version will be available from this weekend onwards.

Check it out on Amazon

You can also get this great book at a very special and low price as eBook version for Kindle now: eBook Version for Kindle

You can also connect with me through my website – www.melissagriffiths.com.au

 

Contact US

Phone

+61 0401 409 499

Email

Story Queries: editor@ponderings.com.au

General Enquiries wordsmith@ponderings.com.au

Admin and Advertising: media@ponderings.com.au

Talking Endo and Inspiring Action

Talking Endo and Inspiring Action

Words by Katherine Stanley

I was first diagnosed with Endometriosis or Endo when I was 33. I’ve had symptoms since I was 16. 

I still remember my first really painful period. It was so heavy that I had trouble walking up the hallway to tell my Mum that I couldn’t go to school. The pain was so severe that I thought that maybe I was dying. I finally got to the kitchen doubled over in pain and crying. When we went to the local doctor, he told me that I probably had some retrograde bleeding and that it was normal.

In the 17 years that followed, I saw many doctors and made many trips to the Emergency Department. After a while, I stopped talking about the pain and adjusted my life around it. I would need 2-3 days off every month due to severe pain, and daily pain had become a part of my normal life. I didn’t like mentioning my pain because though I knew it was real; I always had this niggling imposter syndrome feeling – maybe I was actually crazy and just making it all up.

It was a relief when I was finally diagnosed with Endo. 

A relief to have a name to the illness that had taken over so many parts of my life and meant I always used all my sick leave. It was a relief to finally have proof that it wasn’t all in my head. I think it is quite striking that many women share the same story – they feel relieved when they get a diagnosis. I can’t imagine many other situations where people feel relieved to be diagnosed with a disease with no cure.

Endometriosis is where the tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows outside it in other parts of the body. Symptoms are varied for every woman. 

Common symptoms include fatigue, digestive and bladder issues, heavy or irregular bleeding and LOTS of pain!! Pain on or around a period, on or around ovulation, during or after sex., with bowel movements or when you urinate. The pain is often felt in the pelvic region, lower back and/or down the legs. It is also widespread. 1 in 10 women has it, making it as common as asthma and diabetes. Despite this, it takes 7-10 years to be diagnosed with Endo.  

 

With this in mind, I wanted to give back to the Endo community, and so last year, I created a support group called Talking Endo. 

At the support group, we have a speaker with expertise in working with women with pelvic pain, then we share a cup of tea and chat about how we all are, and what it is like living with chronic pain. Talking Endo has since evolved into a podcast, and I am in the process of turning it into a social enterprise. I am continually looking for ideas and ways that I can support a group of women that to date have felt unheard and unsupported.  

I am on a mission to change the Endo space for the next generation. I will not rest until women’s pain is believed, and women with pelvic pain feel supported and heard. If you have persistent pelvic pain, I urge you to go and speak to your doctor about it. And keep seeing doctors until you find one that listens to you and works with you to come up with a plan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at @TalkingEndo on Facebook or talkingendogeelong@gmail.com

Kat Stanley

 

Contact US

Phone

+61 0401 409 499

Email

Story Queries: editor@ponderings.com.au

General Enquiries wordsmith@ponderings.com.au

Admin and Advertising: media@ponderings.com.au

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