Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Help With Getting Your Child to Sleep at Night



I know what it is to have a child that does not sleep as he should at night, as many of you out there do. The difference for me is that I wasn't bothered that much by the fact that my child only slept in short spurts.

I do wonder...are there any other parents out there who are on the spectrum themselves that don't seem to mind if their children are up at night?

At first, my only complaint was getting to have some mommy time to myself. I look forward to having time to myself at some point of the day, usually at the end of the day. There have been times my son has been up late night and want to play or help me clean. Don't get me wrong, the cleaning part is great, but I'd rather he help me during the day and let me have my time late night. Other than that, I had not complaints, at least, not until he developed epilepsy. Those of you who battle epilepsy know the importance of sleep when trying to minimize seizures.

I'm working hard to help my son's seizures to decrease. It's been a struggle getting my son to sleep through the night. His neurologist  prescribed Gabapentin. I didn't like it at first because he's groggier during the day and it seemed to increase his seizures. Though the seizures were mild, the frequency became a major issues. I tried adjusting the medication several times. Nothing was getting better. It had gotten to the point where I had to homeschool him and schedule speaking engagements later in the day because he was too groggy and highly prone to seizing late mornings and early afternoons. I literally had to completely restructure our days. This had to change.

About 2 weeks ago I had an aha moment. My son needed more than medication changes to help him sleep through the night. I needed to change his night time routine. So we began building a bedtime routing that allowed him to still have some activity, but activity that allows his mind calm and be receptive to sleep. It's working well. When it's time to get ready for bed I put on a video that is interesting enough to draw his attention while being boring enough to lull him to sleep. It's taken a couple weeks for him to get used to the new routine. I think it's working very well. Even though he's been a bit resistant, sleep patterns have improved tremendously and seizures have decreased.

Whatever nighttime routing you come up with for your child, be sure to have a back up plan. I say this because I've noticed a few of my son's nighttime videos have gone AWOL. Not to worry...until March of the Penguin, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and all of the Wallace and Gromit movies return to their home on the shelf, I will gladly let him watch a few of my select favorites...Bob Ross Painting, Turtle: The Incredible Journey or Bears (the movie). Ha! Ha!

Here's a blog post I ran across today, written by Anna Laura Brown. She gives sound advise to parents struggling with getting their wee ones to sleep at night.

How to Solve the Sleep Problem Without Going Nuts - by Anna Laura Brown

Anna's an awesome blogger that I follow on twitter. If you're interested in following her you may do so @annalaurabrown.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

National Night Out 2017 "Taking Care of Our Mental Health"

My son and I ventured out to National Night Out this year. I learned about the event last year through the Durham CIT. I'm so glad we were able to attend this year. My son and I have partnered with Durham CIT to increase awareness and education of Autism and other Intellectual Disabilities for our local Police and First Responders. I could not have asked for a better response. Interactions between my son, local Police Officers and First Responders has been an eye opening experience for all involved. They get the opportunity to learn a little more about Autism and my son gets to learn about them. I also love that the Officers and First Responders are very engaging. They ask so many awesome questions and are eager to learn more. I see a great opportunity to get more people from the autism community to get involved with CIT. I hope we get enough participation to offer continuous education and interactions. After all, when you've met once person with autism...you've met one person with autism. One person cannot represent the entire autism community. I highly recommend getting in touch with your local CIT Chapter to see what you can do to help facilitate better relations between Officers, First Responders and people having Mental Illness, Intellectual Disabilities or Autism.

Getting Back to the event. National Night Out is a community event where attendees cab receive information from community partners regarding mental health and personal safety. Children get to explore the Emergency Response Station and interact with Local Officers and First Responders.

Here are a few pictures taken this evening. My son received a T-shirt from one of the officers and was able to hang out with a few firemen, police officers, CIT and mental health vendors.


Son getting T-shirt from Officer

Alliance Behavioral HealthCare

 
Durham CIT
 

Local First Responders, my son and a cute kid from the neighborhood
 
 
It was a great turnout. There was music, dancing, art contest, bouncy houses and food. All of the first responders were awesome and the vendors gave out great information. And my son really enjoyed himself. What more could you ask for in a community event... I'm looking forward to participating again next year.




Sunday, July 23, 2017

Be Safe The Movie: Tool for Teaching Our Kids How To Interact With Police Officers



I've been searching for almost a year for some sort of safety training for children and young adults on the spectrum. For a while there seemed to be nothing of the kind until recently when I put the feelers out on twitter and a mom responded to my question. She tweeted the link https://besafethemovie.com/. Be Safe The Movie is an excellent teaching tool for families, schools, community programs and organizations to use for teaching children/teens/adults who are on the autism spectrum or have and intellectual disability how to interact with police officers. The movie is a several part series that goes over specific areas of interaction, awareness, ability to identify police officers and the tools they use on the job to keep us safe as well as themselves.

I encourage you as individuals, family members, caretakers and I/DD professionals to see if there is a local CIT affiliate and how often they conduct CIT trainings. Take a moment to speak with the CIT Coordinator and find out how you can share your experiences or concerns. My son and I were invited to share our experience during the Consumer Panel portion of the CIT training. The Consumer Panel is small forum of people who have a mental health and/or intellectual disability diagnosis. The panel may also include family members and caretakers. This is our chance as a community to interact with our officers and first responders in order to share and learn.

In my personal experience, I've found that sharing personal experiences about my son's interactions with first responders to be welcomed and extremely helpful for officers and first responders receiving the trainings. I thought it was going to be a one time thing, but the officer's and first responder's desire to learn and their appreciation for the opportunity to interact with my son was overwhelming. My son and I are now regular presenters at the quarterly CIT trainings.

Utilizing Be Safe The Movie is a great way to open and explore opportunities on how to work with you local police to set up safety trainings for persons on the autism spectrum and/or having other intellectual disabilities.

The video below shows how Be Safe the Movie is being used as tool for interactive trainings with Police Officers.




I hope this video sparks a fire in you as it has done for me to find even more ways to reach and teach our children about safety in the home and community.

For more information about Be Safe The Movie visit these links:

Be Safe The Movie (Official Trailer)

Web Page: Be Safe The Movie

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/BeSafeTheMovie/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/besafethemovie?lang=en






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Studies Show Injury to Cerebellum Having Possible Connection to Autism

I usually don't pay much attention to most of the research on autism because it seems to be more propaganda than tangible. That's just my opinion. Earlier today I was doing a little research on TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) when I came across a couple articles about early injury to cerebellum being the root to autism. I don't know about it being the "root" to autism, but I do believe there is a direct connection.

My son started having seizures 3 years ago. Year before last, when the seizures started coming more frequently his neurologist scheduled an MRI. The results from the MRI showed a beautiful brain that appeared to be of normal functioning, that is with exception to the abnormality of my son's cerebellum. One side appears to be fine, but the other side is almost nonexistent. The neurologist said she did not see any correlation between my son's malformed cerebellum and autism. I did a little research the functioning of the cerebellum. According to what I read the cerebellum contributes quite a bit to the brains functionality Overview: Functions of The Cerebellum. So if my son's cerebellum is malformed, how could it not in some way contribute to his autism or perhaps some of the traits of autism like speech (being non-verbal)?

As I stated, it was a few years ago when we first discovered my son's brain abnormality. I found this information earlier today. The article was originally written September 7th 2014. I still can't quite figure out why the neurologist had no clue.

"New research from Princeton shows that cerebellum damage, especially in the second and third trimesters, could be the root of autism."

Here's the link Early Brain Injury Might Be the Root of Autism

Friday, June 16, 2017

Teaching Your Child How to Tie Their Shoes

Teaching my son how to tie his shoes has been a long term project. I thought I'd tried just about every method when I came across a brilliant blog post showing an easier method for teaching how to tie shoes.

For many of you this may be old news, so please accept my apologies for being late :-) Here's the post from AutismAwareness.com, Easiest Way to Teach Your Kid How to Ties Their Shoes. I found this method to be ingenious and it works. I hope it works for you too.


'

Friday, May 27, 2016

Love When You Talk to Me





You don't really know how amazing it can be to have a verbal conversation with your kid until you have that first one and then you pray that it happens again.
I can't remember the last time my son uttered a sentence, wait, yes I can. He was 7 years old and he didn't want to eat his peas. I listened as he sat at the table complaining about the peas on his plate. I chose to pretend to ignore him. He got so made. He couldn't see me grinning. It was one of those precious rare moments when my son uttered something...anything. His voice barely audible and his words unintelligible, but I found his conversation about the peas to be completely and utterly delightful. It's the little things.

It's no secret that I talk to my son all the time. My friends do too. We ask questions and always pause to give H time to answer. He typically doesn't, but ever so often he does. Tonight I was blessed to have a conversation with him. It by no means was a typical conversation, but very much a conversation nonetheless. He's 16 now and still only utters a word or two every so often. Facial expressions and gestures are his primary mode of communication. Tonight while giving H his last round of medicines. I struck up a conversation about a behavior that he developed around the time he started having gut issues and seizures. It started off as excessive drooling and developed into excessive spitting. Funny, spitting (toothpaste) was one of the long standing goals on is ISP that I though he'd never ever achieve and now I can't get him to stop at all. I even catch him practicing his technique in bathroom sometimes.

I hope this subject is not gross you out, but this is how our story goes.

Here's the conversation:

H: Indicates that he wants to go spit.

Mom: Try to swallow if you can. Here's your medicine, that will help. I believe you will learn how to swallow your spit again. You used to before your seizures.

H: Do not...

Mom: You do not want to or you do not know how?

H: Silence

Mom: Repeats the question.

H: Silence

Mom: Repeats the question again.

H: How

Mom: That's okay, if you want to try we will figure it out. Okay?

H: Okay (smile)

My eyes are tearing even now. This is only the second verbal conversation we've had. What can I say, my heart is skipping around my chest. I feel like our connection is becoming so much stronger. There was a connection...an understanding that was indescribable. I'm thankful for this moment.