Archive | August, 2010

Touch Sensory Issues For Autism or Crashing

Most people that have even the slightest awareness of Autism or what it is, knows that many that have Autism have a tendency to hit themselves… sometimes even hurt themselves.

I’ve come to know it as the term ‘Crashing’ and this term encompasses a lot more than just hitting oneself, it also includes bouncing against the mattress (hard), tapping another person on the head often, climbing under the bedsheets or very heavy blanket(s), finding some way to squeeze themselves tightly, pushing off against something repeatedly… and so on and so forth.

For many parents, it can be so bad and so violent that they must resort to medications such as Ritalin to get them to stop or at least calm down enough to not hurt themselves or do damage to something.

For a lot of other parents though, it can often be mild enough that you can do something about it. In my case, my son Cameron does do a wide variety of the things I’ve listed but never really hurts anyone nor himself. What we’ve found is that the best approach is to take the same approach you would use on any other child… give them an outlet.

In Cameron’s case, we showed him how he can get his mattress off his bed, and onto the floor… where he can bounce on it and even sometimes goes completely under it so that the weight can squish him quite nicely. We’ve also become accustomed to the nightly bath routine such that him crawling under the sheets, onto the bare mattress won’t leave either too dirty… although we realize that the mattress isn’t the cleanest place to begin with. I’m toying with the idea of double sheets…  for him to get in between… just have to convince my wife to do more laundry.

Anyway, we have a rocking recliner in the living room, where he’s taken to sitting in it and pushing off something with his feet. Sometimes that ‘something’ includes his little brother. I have to keep on top of him but he recognizes that pushing off against the wall with his feet is not only ok but it works better since it doesn’t move when you push it.

Lycra is a miracle fabric that comes in a few product lines already including very tight and stretchable bed sheets (which is a great way to give them that ‘crashing’ feeling while sleeping) and as a body bag. I hate that name, but anyway… it’s a bag that has a velcro top to it and your child gets in it and can stretch out and push any which way.

Basically what it boils down to is finding something else to hit or push or squeeze. Teach your child to take out frustrations or desires for pressure in other ways. And keep in mind that it’s not a perfect science, Cameron still pushes off the rocking chair using his little brother sometimes but for the most part, he almost always uses other ways to heavy things on him, to bounce on or against things and stuff to hit.

Remember, touch (feeling) is just as much a sensory input as sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Smelling something over and over again, passing things back and forth in front of their eyes, putting things in their mouth that they shouldn’t or not putting food in their mouth that they should… these are all common with sensory processing problems.

Find a way to satisfy your child’s need to do these things in a different way than what they’ve been doing thus far. If you can find a way that feels better to them, they may just switch!

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The Atkins Diet for Autism? SCD And Me

If you’ve had any involvement with the DAN program, you’ve probably heard about this diet but if you haven’t, there’s a good chance that you have not. It’s not as widely known as the GF/CF diet and is not as widely tried.

The reason for that is that it’s a very difficult diet to stick to, especially for a growing child and it’s also a very expensive diet.  It’s basically like the GF/CF diet on steroids… only without the steroids.

The SCD diet (or Specific Carbohydrate Diet) basically means taking out all starches and complex sugars from your diet (on top of Gluten and Casein!!!). I’m not going to get into specifics, you can read about it here if you wish… but I will tell you this, my wife and I are really struggling with this.

We have several reasons for having issues with this diet and I thought I’d share some with you:

1. Financial: We simply can not afford to be getting goat’s milk and other stuff that this diet restricts you too. It’s not in huge demand, it is extra healthy for you, it’s processed differently… in the end, it costs more. A one litre (yes, I’m Canadian) of goat’s milk costs the same as a 2 litre of soy milk.

2. Nutrition: Yes these restrictive diets are better for you, but better for you does not always mean ‘healthier’ for you. When you are dealing with an Autistic child that already will not eat meat, only eats 2 kinds of vegetables, no fruits… well, you get the idea. How do you take him off the rice pasta, rice and potatoes that he will eat?? What’s left?? Yes, I know some of diet experts will have alternatives but I can tell you right now that those alternatives leave him lacking in some vitamins, minerals and proteins that he should be getting in his regular diet. He’s skinny enough already.

3. Routine: Because we didn’t know about this diet before hand, we went with what we did know which was moving him to Soy milk, rice pasta and some other foods and drinks that he’s come to not only love, but depend on as part of his regular routine. Oh, and what child doesn’t love candy?  So when you have a child that only eats starches and candy and Soy milk… to move him to the SCD diet means a complete and total change to his diet and his routine. If you’ve tried such a thing with a child that has Autism, I can feel you cringing as you read.

4. Initials: I refuse to eat from a diet that has the same initials as me. Yes, my middle name starts with a C.

So what is the final verdict? Well, we’d like to try it, for the sake of trying it.. but we simply can’t. Not right now. Maybe not ever.

However, if you have tried it and hated it, liked it, still do it or quit… I’d love to hear from you. And if you haven’t tried it, well, I’d love to hear from you too. What are your thoughts?

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The Dad Life

Not really anything to do with Autism but I thought this was hilarious…  and you know, it’s funny… cause it’s true!

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Do you Love Autism or Hate Autism?

I have talked to quite a few people with Autism (usually more specifically Aspergers) that really love having Autism and the benefits that come with it. Although, I’ve also talked to others who absolutely detest Autism in all shapes and forms. These are usually people that do not have Autism but do have a loved one with very severe Autism, more times than not, it’s their child.

I don’t want to generalize too much, it’s just an observation. However, love and hate are two pretty intense emotions and when focused on a single subject, this can usually lead to animosity or hostility.

The more I got to thinking about it, the more I started to get hostile myself, not at either group of people but at the need to push their love or hate onto each other.

It ultimately resulted in me tweeting this: “Autism is not your sword to wield as a weapon nor for you to fall on. Love it or hate it, don’t tell others how to feel.”

I feel it’s important to share our accomplishments and our disappointments, our pride and our sorrow… but it’s very hard for someone that hates everything to do with Autism to watch someone with Autism themselves go on and on about how much they love it and how wonderful it is. Conversely, it’s very hard for someone who is very proud of their Autism to go on speaking very harshly about how life destroying it is.

I would like to suggest that you either accept their stance as their circumstances are very different from yours or politely ignore/unfollow/unfriend/leave that person and continue on with what you’re doing and let them continue on with what they’re doing.

In a perfect world, we all support each other. But sometimes we just can’t… and that’s ok. But we really don’t need to replace support with fighting. Love it or hate it, we’re all on the same side, I think.

I invite you to share, but not fight…  do you love Autism or do you hate Autism?

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Why It’s Ironic That We Call it “Autism Awareness”

I was just thinking about it today and find it ironic that we call it “Autism Awareness” when really, that’s a large part of what Autism is… Awareness!

It’s the overwhelming nature of taking in all sights, sounds, smells, feelings and tastes all at once and being unable to process or filter it all. It’s over awareness.

So here we find ourselves trying to raise awareness in those that have no Autism in their lives and trying to lower awareness in those that do have Autism.

Now don’t get offended if you have Autism/Aspergers and enjoy the benefits that it brings you and are proud. I’m not talking about you when I say we need to lower the awareness, I am talking about those that are so far overwhelmed that they are unable to speak or interact with people around them in a conventional way.

Anyway, just an amusing thought I had today, thought I’d share.

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