Post 29 2012

Autism awareness month continues …

Before I start today’s post, I just have to tell you that James started the day in the hall again today.  Hooray!!!!  I think we have truly conquered this issue permanently.  The next step is to go directly to the hall with his bag without checking in with his teacher down at his classroom.  He thinks he can try this tomorrow.  What a hugely improved week we’ve had.  Hooray for the one step forward phase!!!           

I know I’ve spoken lots about James’ sensory issues.  Like many others on the Autistic Spectrum, he has sensory processing issues which can make certain environments due to excessive lights, sounds or movement, very overwhelming.

There are so many therapy products available now to help calm the systems of those who have sensory issues.  For example, have you heard about sensory rooms and their therapeutic benefits?  A sensory room is generally a fairly small, blacked out room containing items which provide sensory experiences specifically designed for individuals who have sensory concerns.  The sensory room at AEIOU contained textured cushions, marvellous lights, a large lava lamp with moving shapes, and beautiful, gentle music.  A few minutes in the sensory room can be hugely restorative for children who are over or even under stimulated, and can help calm their nervous systems.  I would love to have a sensory room at home. We have created a sensory room experience in James’ cupboard with cushions and lights. It’s not flash, but it tends to do the trick. 

In America, they are pushing to have a sensory room (sometimes called Snoezelen rooms) created in every school.  I’m with them! Sensory rooms aren’t just restorative for people with sensory issues, they’re restorative for all of us!  Most schools have a smaller classroom that goes unused, so I think it’s worth considering.

There are also many other therapy products available for children with sensory issues.  There are all kinds of oral motor toys (like chewy tubes used for kids who chew everything), weighted products including blankets and vests (for those who need deep pressure), the Whizzy Dizzy (spinning device used for those who need to spin), all kinds of specialised swings (hammock swings, air swings, pressure swings), therapeutic listening programs, seam free socks and underwear, noise cancelling headphones, tinted glasses (or those with Irlen lenses which help with sensitivity to lights) and the list goes on.  We have had huge amounts of success with all of these therapy items.

One family I spoke to last week go through one school shirt a week because their child chews the collars of his shirt to pieces, and has even bitten the buttons off his shirts.  We have now put some things into place to help him, such as providing him with more oral input (chewy and crunchy foods), Chewelery (a necklace with a hard PVC free circle on it which can safely be chewed) and more drink breaks (sipping through a straw).  I’ve just had an email from mum who already reports a marked improvement in his chewing behaviour.  Fantastic news.

So consider the expense of these sensory requirements on families.  Besides the obvious cost of buying the abovementioned therapy items, most children with ASD require regular Occupational Therapy, Speech Language Therapy, Psychology appointments and regular Paediatric consults.  There is some governmental assistance with this but it’s not nearly enough to meet the ongoing needs for the kids.  Add this to the cost of parents not being able to work full time, part time or even at all so that they are available to care for their children’s needs.  There’s also the costs of modifying your home to accommodate your child and to make them safe (fencing, locks etc).  It’s certainly requires a lot of money to provide these children with the materials they need to succeed and to remain well.

We all often complain about the price of school books, uniforms and the like and it is costly … but it’s all relative!  Next time you’re thinking it’s all a bit excessive, think of all the parents who are buying all that plus costly therapy equipment and other gear that simply enables their child to be able to participate and learn at school.


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