Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Why people stim

As a neurotypical child/adult (you don't have Autism Spectrum Disorder), you might wonder why a child would rock to and fro, or flap and wave their hands about. This is called stimming and isn't harmful. They might do this if there is a lot of sensory things going on around them, or they are anxious about something. Stimming calms them down and lets them take control of their emotions again. So, don't try to stop them.

As a child, I never did either of them (not that I know about, anyway). But one thing I know I did, up until just before my 21st, was bite my fingernails. This was down to anxiety I know now. Whenever I was at home, I'd be OK and my nails would start growing. But as soon as I went back to school or work in later years, I bit them again. This went on until just before I turned 21. I had been working for a couple of years. I think I had got used to the people there and the jobs I had to do, and had been so busy that I didn't have time to bite my nails. They began to grow. So I decided then to let them. I started wearing nail varnish to help me. Once they grew, I stopped, seeing how nice they looked. Now I cringe when I think about what I did, and when I see other people, usually men, bite their nails. I don't know how I let my fingers be like that, they must have been so sore and red.

When my dad used to live with us (he's in a care home now), I used to see him twiddle his thumbs. It annoyed me because I could see it happen out the corner of my eye when I read or watched TV. I now think that this was him stimming because I believe he has Asperger's too.

So, if you see a child either rock or flap, think about what's going on around them. Is there too much noise? Too many people? Being bullied?

Monday, 27 March 2017

Raising awareness of autism

It's National Autism Awareness Week this week. So I am going to be popping up in lots of places to raise awareness by mentioning different aspects of autism and Asperger's Syndrome, I will blog more than once on here but there is one big event I will be doing this Saturday.

I am going to be holding a raising awareness event at Sydenham Community Library, SE London, this Saturday 1 April (no it's not a joke) from 10.30 am - 12nn. I will be handing out hand-made leaflets about autism, answering questions about Asperger's (to the best of my experience and knowledge) and selling my book 'Billy and the Sparkling Socks'. If you can come and say hello, or even better, ask me a question, please do so, esp if you are autistic or know someone who is.

Let's celebrate National Autism Awareness Week. #WAAW2017

Sunday, 19 March 2017

ASD and why children can have meltdowns

If you see another child in your class or playground crying, shouting, screaming or maybe on the ground, then they could be having a meltdown. This is not a tantrum, to get attention. This is usually because something has either upset them or have had a sensory overload. It could be because they have been bullied by another child. Or it could be because there is too much noise, too many people around them, too many smells, or in all too much stimulation around them for them to cope with.

If the child is being picked on, then please tell the teacher. Bullying in any way is not OK and should be dealt with.

So, what to do if you do see a child like this? Here are my ideas:

1. Tell a teacher or assistant you can see in the playground

2. Give the child space

3. Don't ask the child if they are OK.

4. Try to get other children not to interfere and tease

5. Does the child like something such as a toy? If so, maybe you can suggest to the teacher they take it to the child.

Please note that I am not an expert and don't have a degree. I am just going by experience and what I have read by experts.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Autism spectrum disorder and school bells

Welcome to a new series about why children (and adults) behave in certain ways at school and at home. The first post is about behaving when there is a loud noise at school ie school bells ringing.

There might be a child who either cringes or puts their hands over their ears or screams and cries when the school bells rings out. This is because the noise of the bell sounds too loud for their head and ears. It is known as sensory overload. The noise hurts their head and ears.

The same can be said for screeching noises such as fingers and rubbers over a board. The high-pitched sound is too painful for them to bear. (I hate sounds such as these as they make my teeth go on edge).

Here are a few tips.

If you do know of children who act like this, may be you can warn them beforehand when the bell is due to go. Like the main character in my current children's book, Qessa, her friend and teacher points to their ears as a warning. So they can put their hands over their ears ready.

Another idea is to have headphones, which can dull the highness of the bell ringing. Qessa's teacher gifted her a set to wear.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Promotion - Thinking outside the box

You never know where you can promote your book and if it will be successful, but yesterday was for me, I hope. This was thinking out of the box, as they say. I had to go and see my GP about a few things to do with my kidneys, which aren't fully functioning. I knew that she had children but don't know how old they are. I took one of my Billy cards with me. When I had finished talking about my health, I said I had one last thing to talk about, which wasn't really medical. I took out the card and told her what I was writing and why. I also told her about the library event on 1 April about raising awareness of Asperger's. She wrote a note on the back of the card. She said that she would try to get to the library but if not, would see about buying the book for her children. My GP is so nice. I can talk to her about things and be comfortable with it. So, a successful promotion of Billy for me. We shall see if she does come to the event. Will let you know.

So, what has been the most outside the box have you done?