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Monday, 19 August 2013

sensory issues

Okay, so as promised some real info. I thought the best place to start was on sensory issues, as its a topic anyone can relate to and it explains a lot of some of the more bizarre autistic behaviours. A few months after Ed had been diagnosed, I spoke to the wife of one of Richards friends who just happened to work with autistic children. I can still hear her voice, 'Liz, you have to sort out his sensory issues before you can do anything.' My ignorant reply was 'I am really lucky he doesn't have any.' 'Liz, he has, you just don't know what they are!' How right she was.

So you have five senses, taste, touch, hearing, seeing, and smell. There are two other ones I had no idea existed till autism hit us, they are vestibular and propriception. Vestibular is the sense of where you are in space, all the wee bits and bobs in your ear tell you if your up or down, propriception is a little more difficult to explain, but its knowing where all of your body parts are in space. So, if you were getting in a boat from shore, you would need to know whereabouts in space you were and where all your  body parts are as you negotiate getting in a wobbly boat. If this doesn't explain it fully enough tap it in google, there a books written on the stuff.

When you experience through these senses there is a kinda volume button. You have hypo-sensitive and hyper-sensitive. Hypo would be the sound all turned down, so it doesn't register, and hyper would be the sound cranked all the way up to past bearable. On this volume button, just to make things interesting, you can be anywhere between the two extremes and to make it more interesting, you can have a mix of both. For example, Ed is hypo-sensitive to cold. He needs to be getting to frost bite cold before it registers, but he is hyper-sensitive to hot. So now you have seven senses with a range of perceptions and you can start to see how it affects them. I have heard of children who have such sensitive noses that they can smell everything in the house, parents have to be careful with what they cook and throwing things out. Imagine smelling everyones body odours. I have heard of children who have such sensitive ears they can hear your heart beating. Imagine being that sensitive and being in a super-market, with the noise of the chiller cabinets, the freezers, the noise of the overhead lighting let alone the music and noise of the customers. I have heard of children who see everything in its entirety in a room. This doesn't sound to bad, but let me tell you of an experience I had during my art foundation years. We had just had an intense session on typography, on the way home all the letters on the shops and posters and car number plates were all jumping out at me, it was almost painful. I had to look at the floor to get home till my brain calmed down. Some children who are dyslexic have difficulty reading because the words literally jump around the page. Children who are so sensitive to touch that they can't bear to be touched, imagine wearing clothes when you feel like that, what would a woolly jumper feel like? Those are example of hyper-sensitivity which I think is the worst, but on the other hand you get behaviour aimed at just feeling anything - which generally verges on the dangerous. Also, if you can't feel it, how do you know its time to run to the bathroom till its to late. Its only when the pooh is actually coming out of his bum that Ed is aware of it, thankfully, those days are ending with the kefir water. So just let that all sink in. What you get from that in terms of behaviour is hand-flapping, spinning, jumping, climbing, hanging, switching things on and off, eating only crunchy food, eating only smooth food, eating spicy food, or bland food, eating only food that is green, or yellow or whatever - see where I am going, the result is weird behaviour. So you need to track down their behaviour to see why they are doing it, and then you will start to understand their sensory needs. Quite often, the sensory overload is so great that they can't cope anymore and this results in what is know as a melt-down. A melt-down is a normal childs worst behaviour - but on crack-cocaine! So its important to understand your childs sensory needs to prevent this. And so, to offset all this craziness, to feel safe, our children really like routine, something they know. So, we go this way to school, down this road, past this thing, maybe we like all our things just so, or our food laid out in a certain way or whatever. Something predictable in their unpredictable world. You see, they experience life in a totally different way to a normal person, and they each experience it in a unique way. Yes, this is true for all of us, but for them its more extreme.

Edward is hypo-sensitive to touch, so he likes to be in tight spaces. He like to get between the bed and the wall, if you sit down he puts his hand under your bum. He likes to feel the very end of his hair because its spiky, he likes to feel grout between tiles. I guess that's why he used to smear his pooh, because it was gritty. He likes to climb and hang off things, curtain poles for instance, this gives him a nice feel of his propriception faculties through his arms. See when you know why they do something, you can be understanding, and help. You may have seen children round town with great big headphones on to protect their ears, or glasses to cut down on what they see, or grown children jumping for no reason and though, that's weird. Well now you know why, and looking at just this one issue, maybe you can have a glimpse of the minefield the parents of autistic children tread everyday, one miss step and MELTDOWN! BOOM!

Thankfully, with the interventions I have put in place, ie, NAET, homoeopathy, supplements particularly zinc for this, Epsom salt baths, kefir water and coconut oil rubs, Eds sensory issues are coming under control, and at the moment, things are good - well, good for us. This is a very complex issue, hope I have made it a little clearer. xx

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