Outings and activities for children on the Spectrum Part 3

Number three:Yoga

Some of the Benefits of Yoga:

>Improve concentration

>Maintain flexibility

>Help to Relax

>Work on postural misalignment

>Practise balance

The good thing about Yoga is that there are plenty of DVDs of all levels available for you to practise it at home if there are no classes for SEN running within your borough. I started practising Yoga shortly after I gave birth to my daughter. I did it for a couple of months and MashAllah it helped me dealing with my anxiety. Unfortunately, after a while, I stopped. The reason: I am too busy. Believe me having a bubble bath, a hair treatment is a luxury so  no space on my timetable for Yoga.

But Alhamdulillah, Allah scheduled Yoga sessions every three weeks for me and my daughter. The group of parents  with SEN to which I belong organizes classes with an experienced and qualified Yoga Teacher Sarah Rush*. I am going to repeat myself (again!) but MashAllah, few years ago, I’d never imagine my daughter could sit quietly on a mat and follow instructions for about an hour! I really enjoy these classes and so do my daughter and this definetly strengthens our relationship. This is our special time together as my husband stays home with my youngest daughter. Furthermore, Sarah is  fantastic Mashallah. Her sessions are fun and relaxing and she is full of positive energy especially when she smiles. It is a truly sincere and generous one.She doesn’t display one of them fake smiles to attract customers and that is so rare nowadays as Well-being has become such a big industry.. To end with, as a parent, for once, you don’t have to run after your child if he feels like walking around. You don’t have to pressurize him if he is more staring at others than actually executing movements. Sarah truly understood that more than other children, our children need to settle in first in order to get successfully involved  in her class. So for you as a parent, it simply means:  let your child be himself and be yourself too!

*

Sarah Rush holds a MA PGCE BA (Hons)
She is Yoga Alliance Registered /Yoga Teacher /Yoga for the Special Child Trained / Member of the British Wheel of Yoga / First Aided / Fully insured/ based in London

For more information about classes,one to one individual or therapeutic work available you can contact Sarah by telephone on 07815120792 or by email at sarahrush2@gmail.com

Outings and activities for children on the Spectrum Part 2

I am finding it really important that my daughter takes part in sport. Sport is a way to keep her fit and healthy but also to make a good use of her hyperactivity . There are plenty of sports that your child could do depending on his abilities. Some of our children can take part in collective  sports such as Football or cricket and be even part of teams with non-autistics children. There are also individual sports such as cycling.You can find some information through the Local Authority, play schemes, support groups or by visiting the webpage of the English Federation of Disability Sport*

I would like to give you an insight of 3 different sports or physical activities that my daughter is practising as well as their benefits on children with Autism. Just a small reminder, every child is unique, your child may not like below activities. Do not insist if he is not enjoying it.

NUMBER ONE: HORSE RIDING

Horse riding is expensive but inshAllah there might be a scheme running within your borough that offers horse riding to SEN children. I am not rich so I can’t afford to pay for  horse riding lessons but if Allah has blessed you with some wealth, please go for it and give it atry.                                                                                                                                                                                                          My daughter is having horse riding weekly with her school Alhamdulillah. I would never have thought that my daughter will be so good at it. MashAllah she is riding on her own and just following the instructions. Nobody is holding the horse for her. My daughter is 6 and I had the opportunity to ride a horse when I was 13 and I was craaaaaap. One day, I would love to be  a good rider and  feel the wind blowing up my hijaab. LOL. Let’s be serious for a moment. Riding  a horse is not only a physical experience. It also builds up a strong bond between the animal and its rider. Horses are  companions-like.Thus, it is the perfect mean for your child to work on his social skills and to concentrate on an external stimuli within a relaxing atmosphere.Your child will have to communicate verbally and physically with hismount and will witness an instantaneous  reaction. Your child will also have to interact with the instructors who will be holding the horse or walking beside it.

To sum up, your child will:

@ make a new special friend and talk to it.

@ leave his bubble and take interest in the outside world.

@  concentrate and follow simple instructions.

@ guide an animal.

@ keep fit.

@ look  Fab and chic . That might be the beginning of a Top model career…just kidding! But still, such a good deal!

NUMBER TWO: SWIMMING  

Swimming is cool, swimming is cheap! Isn’t it true? At my next door swimming pool, there are weekly swimming sessions for disabled children  MashAllah. Unfortunately, it is mixed so I can’t go there with my daughter. But the good news is that as she is quite manageable, I can go with her to another local swimming pool where there are women only sessions. Hurray! If it is the same for you, test it! But I have to be honest with you guys, I only go there during Spring and Summer  time. For the rest of the year and every week, it is the school’s job and she is loving it!          

Who does not like water? You stayed 9 months and for some even more floating inside your mother’s womb. Swimming is fun, it is physical and it relaxes your body. For children with autism, it improves their motor skills, coordination,  their body awareness and balance. However, from your end, you need to be extra vigilant. Some children  can switch and within seconds endanger their life.

*English Federation of Disability Sport: http://www.efds.co.uk

Outings and activities for children on the Spectrum Part 1

Dealing with your own fears…

My daughter used to have quite an unpredictable and challenging behaviour between the age of 3 and 5 years old. I had to stay by her side when she used to be on a playground because at times, she could be very aggressive towards other children. She could kick, bite or hit them.

To be honest, it was always a huge source of stress and anxiety for me.To some point, I didn’t enjoy at all going in such places with my daughter. I ‘d rather stay at mine or at my relatives’ than getting exposed with my daughter. It was so heartbraking to have all those eyes on us when my daughter would have an outburst. But fortunately, I didn’t feel alright with the idea of locking ourselves up from the outside world as I was and still am a social person. I started having an inner fight with myself in order to overcome the distress and the feeling of shame. I realised that by hiding my daughter home, I would be missing on educating people about Autism. And more than that, my autistic child, like everybody else, has the right to walk on this earth even though she doesn’t  match the current standards of perfection  promoted by our Society . But really, if you give up and decide to make what I would call the wrong decision,  you have to know that it is your child who is going to be the real looser . If you want your child to behave, you need to teach him/her. To teach him/her, he/she needs to experiment it for real and not from the comfort of your home.

A matter of organization and patience

First of all, I won’t encourage anyone to go out and spend several hours at one them Westfield shopping centres. This would be Hell for both you and your child. Personally, I can’t handle these types of places. There are way too much noise, light and crowd for me.

From this, you may have already understood that you need to find the place that will suit your child the most for his experimentations. It varies from an individual to another. It might be a park, a museum, a cinema, a swimming pool.                                                                                                                                                                                                       Another important aspect that needs to be considered is the time frame. I am going to give a concrete example. As I stated before, my daughter used to struggle playing gently with other children . I then used to go for a month on a weekly basis at a park at 10am for 15 minutes. At that time, there were very few children so I wasn’t overwhelming my daughter with a busy environment  and I was also setting up a routine. As my daughter reacted well, after  a month, I increased the time frame to 30 min. This outing was always on a weekly basis. The third month it was 30 min but we were at the park for 11am. The park was slightly more busy but it was still   reasonable                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Hope you understood my strategy here! If not, leave a comment and I will try to help.

To end with, i would advise you to be very relaxed during these experimentations or it might ruin everything.Anxiety is “contagious” and , Autistics are commonly predisposed to anxiety.

How does it feel like having a child with autism?

Some days I am fine, some days, I am not. Some days, there are ups and some days, there are downs. Some days, my daughter surprises me with new abilities. Some days, I am upset and tired. Some days, my daughter wets herself. Some days, I feel helpless.

Some days, I am dreaming of having a conversation with my daughter.                                                                                                                                                                               SubhanAllah,having a proper conversation: that will be so great ! This means more than a mine of gold to me. Parents of verbal children don’t realise the chance that they’ve got and how I envy them. Alhamdulillah, my daughter starts talking recently, verbs, words and  some incomplete sentences. It makes such a  huge difference! It has strengthened our relationship, bonded us more.  I am getting to know my daughter’s from the inside. MashAllah, she has a great sense of humour and self derision. Last time, she told me that her skin colour was blue and that she was a boy.

Dear brothers and sisters, the reason I called my blog Autism taught me sabr is because by nature, I am a very impatient person If there were Olympic Games around that theme, I would win the gold. I am the Mo Farah of impatience.  It is probably why Allah is testing me through my daughter. Although, I sometimes find this situation quite frustrating , day after day,  I am witnessing my daughter’s progress. Indeed, three years ago, my daughter could speak only 5 words and the rest was echolalia. My daughter couldn’t button or zip. My daughter couldn’t hold a pen. My daughter couldn’t play with other children without hitting  or snatching toys from them etc… These are miracles from Allah. These are gifts from Allah to me. So when you feel down, write down on a paper your child’s achievements and it will keep you going.

The other main issue for me could be people around me, relatives, friends, professionals and complete  strangers. I don’t need  people to feel sorry for us and tell things like ” Bless her” because as my dear Temple Grandin says: ” different but not less”.                                                                                                                                    This is also upsetting when you meet people who think that non-verbal people and autistic individuals don’t have a personality, don’t have feelings and can’t be hurt by nasty comments. Autistics are not veggies. These people will treat pets with more respect than autistic folk. Sadly,this is the 21st century.

But more importantly,  I would like  you guys not to give up hope on your child potential. Don’t stick to what the specialists are saying about what your child would be able to achieve or not. They don’t know the  Unseen and neither do you. Make a lot of duaas for your child.Remember that Allah wa ta ala, answers the duaas that parents do for their children .

Resources, services and therapies, Part 3

Once your child has been assessed, you need to make sure that he/she will get a proper statement. Believe me, no statement means no support.No support means no services and no therapies. However, your child’s needs have to be addressed  as soon as possible. Early intervention does a huge difference when dealing with  learning disabilities. So as they said: “don’t delay, claim today!” You already know  that in this country, if you don’t bark, they won’t listen to you but please with DSCF0566adab.                                                                                                                                                     My daughter has a teaching assistant working with her since she’s been diagnosed. Every year, it is a new one. Last year, my daughter had a Polish young lady, MashAllah she was really nice and I really respected her. I felt like crying when we had to say goodbye  before summer term. She understood our belief, my daughter and my expectations as a parent. We were working as a real team, not like the one we are having this year who wants to be the Captain in my ship!!! But let’s get back to business now… My daughter also benefits from one to one session and mixes at times with her mainstream class. Her speech and language therapist visits her weekly at school . I hope that Inshallah an occupational therapist will be involved shortly as I referred my daughter myself. Yes, it is true, I had to do it myseIf !  One day, I discovered that the SENCO worker who stated that  he had sent a  referral to the Occupational therapy team didn’t do anything.  You can  put your trust at 100% only in Allah because unfortunately, you might meet that “kind of individuals” whose work needs to be checked out regurlaly. Don’t be shy to show you Cop side! But Alhamdulillah you will come accross extraordinary people  too. That’s just how life is.

To end with, I would like to say thank you to my best friend, my everything, my Allah who is giving me the strength to stand when I am down. I would like to ask for his forgiveness  and mercy for being sometimes a neglectful and ungrateful servant. I would like to thank him for guiding me to Islam, the best thing that happened to me.

Resources, services and therapies, Part 2

You are feeling depressed? You don’t know how you are going to cope? First turn to Allah and then please don’t isolate yourself! There are a lots of supports groups out there. If your child is attending a Special Needs school, for sure, they are  running support groups for parents. If your child is attending a mainstream school with a provision, that might be  slightly more complicated. You will then need to engage in conversation with other parents to find out if there is anything going on within your borough.                                                                                                                                                                                                           Alhamdulillah, that is the case for me. This group is fantastic, MashAllah! You can join them all week by email or phone and they are very quick at answering all types of queries like where to get nappies or how to get a minibus to collect your child. They also run free workshops for parents on challenging behaviours, communication, sleep etc. And finally, they organize a lot of activities like swimming sessions, yoga, parties.Image                                                                                                                                                            Indeed,It is not because  your child is challenging that you have to cut yourself from the outside world. There is no need to be ashamed if your child is doing things that  lead people to stare at both of you as if you were some kind of aliens.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You have to remember that taking your child out will teach him how to behave . That’s how we all learned.Going out will also stimulate your child brain. How do you expect him/her to develop thoughts, ideas etc when stuck home 24/7? If you can’t handle people watching, just tell them: “My child is autistic, that’s why he/she is acting like that, please just go over it,LOL”!”

Resources, services and therapies, Part 1

Once the paeditrician had diagnosed my daughter, I didn’t know where to start really…I had been given some documents  that introduce Autism. I had been told she will get a statement issued by the Local authority. I had been advised that she will be referred so that she could benefit from Short breaks. All of that sounded like a foreign language to me.

The very first thing to do before setting a survival plan

In order to win a War, you need to know your enemy!Therefore, the first advice I will give is to  research about Autism.

The National Autistic Society* website is quite useful.  I could also not insist more on the fact that meeting parents and hear about their experience will be very beneficial because you have people that experience concretly the same  challenges and not somebody who think he/she is an Autism expert because she/he holds a PHD in Autism. That seems a bit harsh me saying that but I believe  that some specialists or teachers are not listening enough to parents and rather stick to their academics points of view.These individuals will tend to patronize you but don’t be scared to impose your ideas. After all, this is your child and for them, it is just another laboratory mouse.

Finally, I will higly recommend to read  the brilliant book written by an autistic young woman and her dad, Carly and Arthur Fleishmann**. You will laugh and cry so much but more than that, you will start to understand your child especially if he/she is not verbal but not only. I am also persuaded that you will benefit from Temple Grandin*** conferences. Temple Grandin is a Super woman. She is autistic but she is also a Doctor of Animal science, a Profesor at Colarado University and an Autism advocate. Please do watch her videos on Youtube. She is a really inspirational MashAllah!

References:

*The National Autistic Society: http://www.autism.org.uk/

**Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann and Carly Fleischmann

*** Temple Grandin:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wt1IY3ffoU