All posts tagged sensory

Silence is golden……..

Published September 29, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Baby girls struggling at the moment, I’m not entirely sure why, but everything seems to be a source of worry and anxiety for her just now.  She came home from school today like a tightly wound spring with bite marks on her hands and sores inside her mouth where she’s bitten her lips so much, I wasn’t surprised, she’d been awake since the early hours and wasn’t really in the best of moods when I dropped her off, clingy and fragile.

A rumble of thunder tonight prompted a quick grab of her ear defenders, which she then insisted on also sleeping in.


I was a little worried they’d cause irritation and keep her awake but I was wrong, she was asleep before I hit the bottom of the stairs! Tightly cacconed in her duvet, adorning the sleep mask she wears to block out the light, the gloves she wears to stop her biting her fingers till they bleed and now the ear defenders to block out the noise!



Ofsted Stress

Published May 21, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I’ve been wondering about some of the difficulties baby girl has lately, I’ve been gathering my thoughts and collating my facts.

Baby girl had a difficult day at school yesterday, she came home in quite an emotional state but I wasn’t able to establish from her garbled ramblings exactly what had happened. She talked about being in trouble  she talked about bumping herself and not being given a wet paper towel which she was not happy about, she talked about her friend also bumping herself and she talked about difficulties at dinner time. None of these were particularly unusual things for her to tell me after a bad day, but what was unusual was her emotional state.

I had no information about what had happened because her home school diary hadn’t been sent home again. I’d already called school earlier in the day to request a meeting to discuss some of the issues from last week so I planned to discuss it then.

I got a phone call today to tell me that Ofsted were in school and there would be no one available to meet with me until after the half term, I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t the first time I’d called and been told Ofsted visits meant I’d have to wait. I remember this happening a month or so ago and being utterly frustrated that no one could return my call for a week because Ofsted were in school. So I asked that baby girls teacher rang me when she could so I could get to the bottom of whatever had upset her so much.

Baby girls teacher called me tonight, she knew nothing of any major incident, she was aware of the few minor incidents but apparently they’d been very minor and very little fuss made of them. So what had triggered this emotional breakdown from her?

You may recall me mentioning here that a few weeks ago I asked our GP to make a referral for baby girl to the Community Pediatrician due to my concerns about sensory issues. I also talked about how easily baby girl becomes dysregulated here. Over the last few years I’ve noticed many things that have made me wonder, like how she doesn’t like her hair being brushed or tied up, like how the noise from the hoover makes her noisy, or how the smell of a persons breath is more intriguing to her than what they’re saying, or how she covers her ears at the first sign of a loud noise, or how she will sit for hours having her back stroked and how she likes me to gently scratch her neck with my finger nails when I put her in to bed, how she ‘takes on’ the emotional state of those around her, or how she yearns for touch of any description (she’s forever leaning on people) or her fascination with water play or her infatuation with smells to name but a few.

So today I was wondering about what it could have been that upset baby girl and then it hit me. Ofstead! We all know how much pressure Ofstead put teachers under, so perhaps baby girl has picked up on her teachers ‘stress’ and absorbed it. I cant remember what that other incident was a few months ago, but I remember feeling very upset about baby girl and being frustrated at not being able to discuss the incident with her teacher, due to Ofstead!!

I’ve done a little online research tonight, lethal I know, BUT, Sensory Processing Disorder is a very good fit! In fact the description in that link could actually be a description of baby girl, with perhaps a couple of small discrepancies. I also came across this checklist and found that more than 2/3rds were relevant to baby girl.

So, I’m even more eager to see the community Pediatrician now, and I shall be taking a list of my observations with me, when the appointment comes through.

The Home School Diary

Published May 14, 2013 by thefamilyof5

If your a regular reader you’ll know that we’ve had some behavioral issues with baby girl at school. Since we made the decision to move middle girl from their shared room, baby girl has been sleeping considerably better and consequently the frequency and severity of her ‘difficult behaviors’ are much less. They haven’t gone though.  I recently asked our GP to make a referral for baby girl to see our community pediatrician as I’m wondering if baby girl might have some sensory issues. If she does, it would explain the issues she had with sharing a room and also explain why she becomes so easily dysregulated.

Anyway, I knew a long time ago that baby girl was struggling at school for various reasons, so I put together a helpful guide for her teacher before the start of the school year last July, I did one for all of the girls, you can read big girls here. I also included a copy of the National Children Bureau ‘Understanding Why’ booklet. Baby girls letter was obviously different to big girls as it focused on her needs, here is a  small extract:

Sometimes when it looks like I’m having lots of fun and behaving ‘silly or excited’, I’m actually not coping very well and may need your help to calm me down and reassure me that everything is ok. I find unstructured time at school a little overwhelming because I can’t regulate my behavior. Mummy says I’m a bit like a bottle of fizzy pop, and the excitement of school shakes me up and up, but when I get home I take the lid off and fizz all over the place. Please help mummy by helping to keep me calm throughout the day. Sometimes I might just look like I’m an active bubbly little girl, but really that’s just me not coping very well. When I’m coping I’m very kind, considerate, thoughtful, chatty and sensitive. 

I’ve had my suspicions that baby girls teacher hadn’t bothered to read the information I gave her for a while. Today I read another message in baby girls ‘home school diary’ that just reinforced my suspicions.

‘XXXXX was distracted this afternoon and although she was asked several times to avoid distractions she still put herself in distracting positions. Silly behavior this afternoon as well  Mrs B’

I wont tell you the words I initially used when I read this, but lets just say I tut’d, a lot!

I spoke to baby girl about her day at school she talked about children ‘being very naughty’ and her teacher ‘using her shouting voice’ , one particular incident I suspect would have been quite worrying for baby girl, they were doing some maypole dancing and one of the boys tied the ribbon around his neck and the teacher shouted, I expect there was a lot of panic around the incident which would have frightened her and also a lot of shouting which she also doesn’t cope well with. Baby also tells me that during one of her own many telling’s off this afternoon her teacher informed her ‘Mommy wont be very happy with you when you get home’.  I’m not even going to tell you how furious that remark made me as I’m not sure I could refrain from swearing. It was the wrong thing to say to a child with a background such as hers and generally just wrong on more levels than I can count.

So, do I waste even more breath trying to get her teacher to understand, or just hope September brings a new teacher who doesn’t think she knows my child better than me!?


The Educational Psychologist – 3rd appointment

Published May 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Friday, baby girl and I met with the educational psychologist at school. It was the first time baby girl met her. The purpose of the meeting was to explore baby girls understanding of her feelings with a view to being able to identify when she’s ‘loosing control’.

I was a little cautious about this idea because I’m not sure baby girl is ready to ‘take care of her self’ she’s still showing me she wants me ‘to take care of her’, none the less I was still quite excited at this new idea, well that was until I attempted to explore baby girls knowledge and understanding of feelings in preparation for the appointment. Aside from happy and sad she didn’t seem able to think about any other kinds of feelings, and even happy and sad were a little hazy.

So, we started the session by talking about happy and sad and what things made baby girl feel that way. Other than ‘playing’ for happy and ‘not playing’ for sad, she struggled to come up with any other suggestions, even with some prompting.
Between the Educational Psychologist and myself we managed to devise a list of things that made baby girl happy, and things that made her feel sad.
We then moved on to exploring her understanding of her, sometimes difficult, behaviour, she had no understanding.
We asked her what sorts of things might make her feel worried, panicky, anxious (or ‘un-calm’ as she put it), she didn’t know.
We talked to her about how she feels inside when she’s having a difficult time and feeling un-calm, she didn’t know.
We talked about how mummys cuddles help her to calm down and asked her what other things might help her calm down, she didn’t know.
We some how managed to draw up a 1,2,3 scale of how she looks, from ‘calm to un-calm’, I really don’t think she understood what we were doing and seemed more interested in getting the pen the educational psychologist was using.

The session started with her looking very worried sat on a chair next to me, after lots of wondering about, constantly snatching at the pen, having to be re-focused and reminded to listen she eventually ended up squirming on my lap, baby voice and all with my stroking her back and trying to calm her down.

I took baby girl back to class and returned to the meeting.

The educational psychologist agreed with me that she didn’t feel baby girl was going to be able to recognise her own feelings and would need the grown ups around her to help her with this. I pointed out that I already do this at home and generally I’m able to manage baby girl quite well by preventing her from becoming dysregulated in the first place, but in school there isn’t anyone to recognise her anxiety, what triggers it or even to help her to calm down. She asked that I work with baby girl on the 1,2,3 chart at home and said she felt it was also important that it was implemented in school too. She commented that for baby girls age she would have expected a much better understanding of feelings and would be asking the school to provide her with extra support with this.

She’s going to contact me with a date for our next appointment, she said it could be as far away as September when baby girl enters her new class?!

In the mean time I’ve spoken to our gp and requested a referral to the community paediatrician to investigate my concerns over possible sensory issues she may have. If she does have some sort of sensory processing disorder or sensory issue, it may explain why she can easily become dysregulated, and may also be the reason she needs 12- 13 hours a night sleep!

For now, we must wait for the next appointment…………..

The Educational Psychologist – 2nd appointment

Published April 26, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Back at the beginning of February I met with the Educational Psychologist at school to see if she was able to offer support with the girls, after much discussion it was eventually decided that as she was only in a position to address the needs of one of the girls, she would look in to baby girls needs.

Sometime within the last 3 months she has observed baby girl in her classroom setting once for around an hour. We met on Wednesday with the SENCO to discuss her observations.

She remarked that baby girl seemed very excited to have a visitor in her classroom, and was even more excited when she also joined her in her small phonics group. She said baby girl was confident, happy and eager to please, so eager in fact that during her phonics group she put her hand up that many times to answer the questions (always correctly might I add) that her teacher encouraged her to let some of the other children have a turn. She remarked that she saw baby girl doing a drawing as part of her work that morning. She said baby girl was clearly putting in lots of effort to create her masterpiece, but that it was so teeny it was barely recognisable. There was talk of her posture and sitting position which her teacher apparently assured the Ed Psych that she is aware of and regularly reminds baby girl to sit ‘properly’.

Being the sceptic that I am, I sat thinking quietly to myself about how her teacher was great at telling people what they wanted to hear, just like she did when CAMHS offered to support her with baby girl last year and she told them baby girl wasn’t an issue and she was managing her quite well (even though she was telling me she was at her wits end and running out of idea’s). I also listened to all the comments about baby girl trying to impress the educational psychologist with her art work, phonics ability and good behaviour and all the while I was thinking to myself that, of course she would be doing all these things, there’s a stranger in her classroom, she’s going to want to impress them and not only because she’s compliant, and not only because she thrives on positive attention, but because keeping the people around her happy is how she keeps herself safe. But I don’t expect that someone who’s met with me once and seen baby girl for 1hour to really understand that.

The meeting moved on to talk about my thoughts on baby girl and what improvements it was that I wanted to see. I talked about her mood swings and the things I felt could trigger her stress. I mentioned how she seems to get very distressed by certain types of noises, how she has a fixation on smells and is obsessed with food. I talked about her fascination with other peoples ‘hurts’ but how she can also become overly distressed and distracted if a child is hurt or crying. I talked about her behaviour when she’s stressed and how it is different to her ‘normal’ behaviour. I talked about her inability to regulate her behaviour herself and how I help her to do this. I mentioned her unpredictability and shared my concerns about possible ‘sensory’ issues.

The educational psychologist suggested some work around helping baby girl recognise her own stress levels by perhaps using some sort of 1,2,3 style gauge similar to those used in ‘anger management’ techniques, and that her and I could use it to communicate her mood. I was happy with this suggestion but a little disappointed that there didn’t seem to be any suggestion of this gauge being used in school, or even for them to help prevent her becoming stressed in the first place.

I manage baby girl quite well at home, I prevent her becoming over stimulated because I know she can’t cope, and I recognise when she is unravelling and I help her to calm by pulling her close and giving her a cuddle. I commented that whilst I had sent baby girl in to school that morning having had a great nights sleep and appearing to be in a good mood, there was always the chance that a loud noise, a crying child, or a funny smell could change that in an instant and someone else needed to recognise these triggers with her and help regulate her instead of allowing her to remain dysregulated for the entire day.

But there was no talk about how her teacher could help to keep her calm by keeping her close through the day, or school being able to offer her any support/reassurances during unstructured times, there was no mention of her teacher becoming more aware of the triggers and being able to reassure baby girl that she was ‘safe’ and was ‘ok’ in order to calm her. There was only talk of her helping herself by recognising her own emotions and stress levels. This made me feel quite sad, she’s 6, she needs to know she is being looked after, she needs to know the people around her will ‘see’ her and keep her safe and meet her needs. Taking care of herself is something she had to learn within the first few weeks of her life, she knows how to do that!

I later learnt that whilst we were in this meeting talking about how her teacher is apparently managing her just fine and I was expressing my concerns about this, baby girl was sat in her classroom, at her table, cutting her school dress and cardigan with scissors, again.


Published February 21, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Yesterday we had the perfect example of how easy and quickly baby girl can become disregulated so I want to share it with you.

What happened: Daddy was fiddling with an alarm on the dining room table, he some how managed to trigger the alarm but couldn’t get it to stop so quickly took it outside until he’d managed to get it to stop.

Baby girl had been happily sat watching tv. The alarm sounded and baby girl quickly covered her ears and ran out of the room.
She came back in once daddy took it outside and sat back down and started chatting. She quickly became quite excited, giggly and silly. To the outside world she was happy, to me, she was unravelling.
The silliness continued, there was jumping, running and more manic laughing. She’d zoned out, she wasn’t aware of what she was doing or what those around her were doing. She was lost in her fear. I called her to sit by me to calm down before she got herself in to trouble.
She couldn’t sit still, her body was ridged, her eyes glazed over and her back arching, the manic laughter continued.
I put my arms around her, held her tight, stroked her face and calmed her.
She then spent 20minutes sobbing.

This makes me think of how baby girl is when she’s at school. She is not secure in school, its loud, its busy and she doesn’t feel safe, add on sleep deprivation and she becomes disregulated very easy.

So to all those that think she’s just like all the other children in her class and should have the same expectations thrust upon her, she is NOT the same, she’s constantly fighting with the fear inside her.

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