Wednesday, 2 May 2018

ASD, gastro problems and anxiety - tips to help

I don't recall having any gastro problems as a child, or being anxious to cause it. I was anxious, I know, cos I used to bite my fingernails (not done so for over 20 years now.)

I am not a health expert, so these are just my ideas.

If your child does have gastro problems cos of anxiety, then try to calm them down. Maybe with a toy they like, or singing if that's what they like doing. Get their mind away from what is going on with their body to something they enjoy.

For older children to adults. There are two ways that help me at times, that you could try.

1. Deep breathing exercise that can be called 'the 4-5-4'. You breathe through the nose to the count of 4, hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out of your mouth to the count of 4, relaxing as you go. Do that a few times. I have done this on a bus to go shopping to calm my anxiety so I didn't have to dash to the toilet.

2. Mindfulness. I was taught this in CBT. I usually do it in bed at night. I lie down, arms at my side, breathing in and out calmly. I tense my feet for a few seconds then release, then my legs, working my way up to my head. Then I loosen my body so I'm relaxed enough to turn over and go to sleep. It is meant to work.

I hope these can be of help to your autistic child.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


April is Autism Awareness month, and IBS and Stress Awareness month, and all three of these can be closely connected. People with autism often have gastro problems, which IBS is one of, and stress from autism can cause IBS, and this is why I am posting about all three now.

I have autism and IBS. My IBS started when I was an adult in the 90s. Most of the time it is caused by foods. Other times it is from nerves, anxiety and stress.

My tips if it is due to foods is to work out which ones cause the problem and eliminate them for a month, then add them back in to your diet one by one with a few days in between. That way you will get to know what the foods are to avoid. My foods are many. I'm intolerant to dairy, gluten. I can't eat raw apples, carrots, or dark green veg, except a few Brussels. I can't eat too much fibre either. I have since found out that many of these are high FODMAP foods. (Fermented, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monos and Polyols (sweeteners ending in 'ol')).

If you know for certain that a particular food causes a problem eg stomach upset, then avoid it altogether. I avoid all dairy and gluten foods, esp butter which makes me v ill, except Marmite. I esp avoid wheat as I know that does give me IBS flare ups.

So that is what to do if food causes you gastro problems. What if it's anxiety and stress? Read my next post for that topic....

Monday, 2 April 2018

Anxiety in adults - Tips

I have had anxiety with meltdowns, mainly as an adult. I don't know about other Aspie adults, but I have found that my anxiety has got worse as I get older. But I have found ways to cope with the anxiety. Here are the situations I have been in and my tips to cope with them.

1. Shopping – Always take more money than is needed. This was the situation I was in when I had my first meltdown and had gone shopping on my own for the first time. I didn't have enough money to buy the tapestry threads I wanted, which upset me greatly.

2. Shopping with someone else – Arrange to meet at a certain point in the shop or outside if you get separated.

3. Going to a new place - Work out times and transport to get there. Leave with plenty of time, especially if it's for an appointment. When there, take a map. Make a note of any landmarks eg a shop or statue, so you know where you are going.

4. Job interview application – If you feel it will help you, then do put down on the form that you have Asperger's/autism, and explain how it affects you, what they can do to help you in the interview. Eg eyes, questions etc. Familiarise yourself with the place and job. If you don't understand a question, ask them to repeat it but in simple language. I recall the last interview I had when I only suspected I had Asperger's. A couple of the questions I took too long to answer and replied wrongly. If I had asked for it to be repeated simply, I might have got a different outcome – fail. As it was, I didn't get the job. It turned out to be the right thing in the end, as I got the time to find out about myself more and get diagnosed.

5. Appointments running late – This one really makes me anxious and worked up. If your appointment is running v late, do tell the consultant when you see them. They will understand, and hopefully will arrange your next appointment to be at an earlier time in the day.

Do you find anxiety is worse as an adult? How do you cope?

Friday, 30 March 2018

ASD and common co-morbidity

I was born with a ventricular septal defect (hole in the heart or congenital heart disease). It wasn't until I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2011 and read the report that I discovered that this is a common co-morbidity with ASD. Who knew?

So how does it affect me? I am slow, physically, than others. I get a stitch in my side and breathless when I either walk fast, go up a hill or run.

At school I hated PE because I'd be one of the last people to be chosen for teams; probably because I was slower. I hated the gym sessions in primary school. I couldn't do handstands because the blood would rush to my head and I'd go dizzy. In secondary school I remember when we had a sports day at a nearby stadium. Most of the school walked there but I had to get the bus with a few others in my class. We got off at the wrong stop and were late for the start.

When I was little I was told that the hole would decrease in size when I got older but over the last couple of years, I've been told that it has done the opposite and stretched. I still get breathless going too fast or up hill. Sometimes when I walk fast I can hear my heart beat louder, as it's worked hard.

So, that is my common co-morbidity with ASD. Do you have one, too? How does it affect you?

I have loosely based Book 3 of my Rainbow School series ' Susie and the Jiggling Jumper' on me. Susie has a heart condition which makes her slower than her classmates and her little sister, so she has to overcome this with her ASD.

Susie's advice with coping with the anxiety of a heart condition is: 'Don't worry about this. Do things at your own pace and don't feel pressured into doing something that you know you can't do.'

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Autism and hobbies and interests

Here is a rough guide how parents and teachers and other guardians can help children with autism use their special interests.

Subjects: Art, science, music, craft, maths
Skills: Drawing, creating, writing, making, numbers
Knowledge: Birds, pictures, tunes, plants, patterns

Encourage the child to work on related activities to do with their interest. Eg if it is music, they can draw instruments, write their own tunes, write a guide, photograph things. Go to places of interest and learn about music. Join groups of same interest. Play the music instruments.

All these can help the child to socialise and not be alone all the time. They can also learn more and get educated. It could later on become a career.

So, what about me? Well, I liked writing stories at school. English, as it was known then, was my favourite lesson despite being bullied. And look what I do know – I am an author writing for adults and children.

This is a brief guide to a full book I have planned to write about hobbies and interests for children with autism, as part of the Rainbow School guide series and 'Learn about autism'.

Monday, 26 March 2018

National Autism Awareness Week - What I am up to

It is National Autism Awareness Week this week, so I will be raising awareness of Asperger's/autism and what it means for the person with it. I things planned this week to do this. Here is what I will be up to.

I shall blog during the week about living with autism as a child and as an adult. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, it just doesn't disappear.

On Thursday 29th I will be at Sydenham Community Library from 10.30am to 12nn raising awareness of it. I will be selling my Rainbow School books and leaflets about Asperger's and autism. The library will have on display other books about Asperger's and autism, as well as posters promoting my event.

I will be tweeting a lot about Asperger's and autism using relevant hashtags.

So, watch out for my posts on FB and my tweets.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

How I plot my books

How do you plot your novels? Above is how I plotted my latest Rainbow School book. I know that some writers use Scrivener, but I prefer pen and paper and to have the sheets in front of me. I can't write straight onto a computer as I get brain freeze, and I want to have the plot in front of me as I write the book. Above you will see I have written brief chapter summaries. That is how I work. But this book is different to the others in the series. I knew whose story each book would tell, but this one I wasn't sure as it features all the characters who appear in the school show. I thought it might be Billy, to show how he has improved but thought, he has already told his story (Billy and the Sparkling Socks). Then I began writing it last month at the weekend writing retreat and a new character came along - Erin. I had a girl in mind some time ago. She wasn't at school before due to illness and was back now. As soon as I started writing about her, I knew this would be her story. She experiences the magic via Alistair and dancing with him; she is a keen dancer like him. Once I have written the first draft, I will have to go back and add in more detail about Erin's background and her home life. More work for me, but am loving writing these books.

So, how do you plot? On your pc or on paper?