Tuesday, 31 July 2012


So quite a few of my recent blog posts have been quite negative (understandably I think) so I thought it was about time I wrote something positive!

It's very easy to get caught up in River's problem areas, the things he can't do, the areas he's delayed in and the worries that he may never learn to do these things. But when you take a step back and look at where he was 6 months ago, it suddenly becomes apparent that he is making lots of progress-just usually very subtly. And occasionally, he will hit a milestone that is very significant-and that progress is very obvious. It's a fabulous feeling! So I'm going to list a few of his successes that seemed so out of reach just a few months ago.

  • Books. River spent a long time chewing, throwing or spinning books whilst all his peers were enjoying stories. He has so many lovely books, and there was a time when I wondered if he'd ever look at them. But now, he's really into books. He doesn't have enough receptive language skills for a story, but he likes turning the pages and looking up at me to tell him what the pictures are.

  • Eye contact. River has always been pretty good with eye contact, but it was fleeting and was never because he was interested in my reactions or my words. Yet now, River will look at a book or see something on the TV and stare at me expectantly, wanting me to tell him what the word is that matches what he's seeing.

  • Sharing interests. A few months ago, my friends would come round with children the same age as River and the children would be constantly bringing me toys as if to say, "What's this?" or "Show me how to play with this toy" or "Look what I've got!" They had this inbuilt desire to learn, communicate & socialise. River never did this. It was one of the first signs of autism- he never brought me anything, never wanted to share his interests with me. Now, he'll bring me things. Not to show me yet, but because he wants to learn. He'll bring me a yellow ball then stare at me until I say, "Yellow." Then give me a different coloured ball & do the same. He brings me books and points things out, then looks at me until I tell him what it is. He has that desire to want to learn. That's massive.

  • Kisses. Every bedtime River insists on Tim taking him to bed, which is very sweet. However, he always kisses me goodnight 3 or 4 times first. I say, "Mummy kiss?" And he looks at me then kisses me on the lips. This is the only time he ever kisses me, so it's very very special.

  • Dragging me around the house. Now to most people, this would probably be quite irritating. A toddler constantly taking your hand and dragging you to whatever they want. All the time. Usually to the highchair or snacks cupboard. But for us, this is amazing. A few months ago, he would stand still and scream. There was no way of knowing what he wanted. We knew this had to change, so when I knew he wanted to go in the ball pit, I'd pick him up and touch it with his hand before putting him in. After a couple of weeks, I'd stand a foot away from it, take him by the hand, and make him walk a couple of steps to it before touching it with his hand and putting him in. Another couple of weeks, and he would stand next to it, grab my hand and put our hands on it. This progressed until eventually he would find me in the kitchen, take my hand and lead me to the ball pit/highchair/front door. Finally, a way of letting us know what he wants! Massive achievement.

  • Pointing. This is the biggest one of all. I've been desperate for him to learn to point. So when looking at books, I used to point to a picture and say what it was. After some time, River would move my finger onto the picture he was interested in. I'd then wait until he made eye contact before telling him what it was. Eventually, I took my hand away and he learnt to use his whole hand to select a picture. Once he learnt that this got results, I started moulding his hand into a point each time. Then, he would grab my hand (think he needed it as a prop) and I would hold his wrist as he pointed. He'd often point with his middle finger, so I'd mould it into a proper point & continue. We also used lots of musical books with buttons to practice pointing. Eventually, he got it! And he can now point to things in books with no prompting from me! Such a massive milestone. Here he is in action, pointing at shapes & colours and then making eye contact for me to tell him what it is Xx

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Autism Blogs.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Lately I've been feeling really guilty.
I feel like there are so many things I should be doing to help River at this most crucial time in his development, and yet I still haven't done them. It sounds like such a rubbish excuse, but it's so hard to find the time- River needs attention pretty much all the time, and when he's napping or asleep for the night there's the neverending housework, meals to cook, cake orders. I also need to put my feet up occasionally!
The things that I'm currently feeling guilty about:
  1. Sensory table. River has a sand & water table in the garden. I need to clean it all out, assemble indoors and fill it with dry rice & dry pasta. This is so I can hide River's toys in it & he can plunge his hands in it to retrieve the toys. After he's comfortable with that, I can replace the rice & pasta with something like wotsits, that leave a residue on your hands but aren't too messy or sticky. We can then build up to playdoh, sand & eventually paint & gloop. This is because River is tactile defensive, so he has a real aversion to different textures including any food that isn't dry. But the sand & water table is still in the garden. I need to get on & do this!
  2. Photo cards. I need to print photos of everyday objects- like his highchair, his favourite foods, his beaker, his shoes- & laminate them. I can then show him the corresponding photo card whenever I give him, for example, a drink. The idea is that he'll eventually learn to communicate his needs through exchanging the cards. I've found all the pictures, saved them on the laptop, bought a laminator...I just need to get on & print them!
  3. Books. I was lent a great book called, "The Out of Sync Child Has Fun" by our Portage worker. It has lots of games & activities for children with sensory issues. I've only read a couple of chapters. I have another book called "Playing, Laughing & Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum." I've read less than half of it. I recently bought a book all about the Son-Rise autism programme, which has a CD-Rom with it too. I haven't opened the book or watched the CD-Rom. I also bought two e-books last week all about sensory processing issues, haven't read them. I really need to read these books!
  4. Websites. There are a couple of websites that friends have recommended, all about various techniques that may help ASD children. I haven't looked at them yet.
  5. Toy storage/organisation. River has an open toy storage unit. It has lots of different compartments, but the toys & books are all on display. It means they're easy to access, but I think it's overwhelming for River. A big jumble of shapes, colours, details. No wonder he doesn't play with any of it. The has no purposeful play. Whereas if all his toys were in tubs or something closed & out of sight, he'd be able to relax more & play with one thing at a time in the correct way. But I still haven't decided what/how. Must do this soon!
  6. Sensory retreat. I've been reading a lot about how children with ASD/sensory issues need a sensory retreat- somewhere they can easily go to when they need to block out the world, block out excess sensory stimulation etc. We've seen a blackout sensory tent that we like, but haven't bought it yet. River would benefit so much from one of these- he's constantly burying his head into my lap, into the corner of the sofa, trying to block everything out. But they're big, we don't have much room. We should just buy one though!
  7. Proprioceptive/vestibular stuff. In order to regulate River and stop him constantly running up & down & crashing into the sofa, he needs to do things like swing in a hammock chair, bounce on a toddler trampoline, have a pillow cave to jump on. These things cost money & most importantly take up a lot of room. But really, River's development is loads more important so I need to just buy them!
So that's it really. Lots of things I should have done but haven't yet. It's not that I'm not doing things- we've taught River to lead us to things he wants, we do all the things to encourage speech, we use deep pressure touch, we research daily on loads of things. 
But it's never enough. Will it ever be enough? Maybe all mums in this position feel the same. Maybe I should give myself a break- or maybe I should give myself a kick up the bum and get on with all these things!!