Sensory overload what is it?

You may have heard another parent use the term, a teacher or even a doctor, but what is sensory overload? The general definition is: difficulty focusing due to competing sensory input. It can consist of symptoms of extreme irritability, restlessness and discomfort. With an urge to cover your ears or shield your eyes from sensory input. Abi has been in sensory overload since the weekend as when she is anxious her senses get heightened and anything from the vacuum cleaner or the neighbor mowing their lawn a few houses down can send her into meltdown. Due to this I took some time away from social media and screens while it settled. As screens due to the blue light can stimulate more so our home (her safe place) has been a calm quiet environment which has helped her calm down. We have also spent a lot of time out doors as the beach has a very calming effect on her. I write this blog piece about sensory overload from my perspective as a parent of a child with ASD who has sensory sensitivity issues. I also have sensory sensitivity to certain things also. I hope this blog gives some clarity and information on the topic that may help someone.

What causes sensory overload?

In children with autism ” bright lights, loud noises, unfamiliar surroundings and situations can cause sensory overload. All of these can create stress—and sensory overload—for kids with sensory processing issues. It can also create anxiety over situations that lie ahead. That’s especially true if kids aren’t prepared or are worried about unexpected things happening.” Even with all the preparation everyday things like going to school or work(for adults) can be a battle. For Abi we have lots of things in place like a late start, no uniform until shes in class and settled.

Working with the school we have attempted to remove the main triggers we have found so far. The truth is though that the build up to school sends her into overload due to anxiety with environment and tasks. Also after school when she gets home she may meltdown as she has had to process all these new tasks. With sensory overload its important to pick up the triggers to reduce anxiety which escalates the sensory issues. It is up to the parent and those around to pick up on possible triggers and to try reduce the triggers where possible.

Under and over sensitivity to sensory input.

A person can be under or over sensitive to sensory input. For example “many people on the spectrum can be hypersensitive in some ways (can’t bear loud noise, for example), but ALSO hypo sensitive in other ways (need to feel motion or physical sensation in order to feel calm).” Some may be adverse to touch where others want to have big squishy hugs its not a one size fits all kind of scenario. In my experience my child if out and about cant take in when her names being called. This is due to her taking in all the small noises we don’t notice. It is competing sensory input with all the noises, then calling her name or asking a question she either dosen’t hear or cant process, between all the different noises her brain is trying to process. Some say in instances like this it is selective hearing in this case it is sensory overload which is very overwhelming and can cause meltdowns, stiming or for her to cover her ears.

Where can you get help for Sensory Processing disorder or sensory processing issues?

There are a few options. Working with an OT and psychologist can be very beneficial to have an individually targeted plan made for the person affected. Also having those around the child or adult taking note when the person is being affected and knowing the signs of raising anxiety due to the sensory sensitivity. Going to your doctor and talking about your symptoms will help as they can refer you to local specialists.

I have attached some helpful articles and a quiz below if you wish to do some further reading. Keep in mind both neuro diverse and nuero typcal people can be affected by sensory processing. So it can affect anyone of any gender, background and age.

Helpful articles : https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/sensory-processing-issues/sensory-overload-anxiety

https://www.verywellhealth.com/autism-and-sensory-overload-259892

https://www.healthline.com/health/sensory-overload#causes

Do you think you or your child may have SPD ? this questonaire may give you an idea on whether or not to get checked.  I got 53% as I am sensitive to certain things.

[Self-Test] Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in Adults

World Autism Awareness Day 2019

Today is world autism awareness day. A day to raise awareness and celebrate the awesomeness of people like my daughter Abigail who have autism. One thing I won’t be sharing is the blue puzzle piece. The puzzle piece and light it up blue were started by a company called Autism speaks. They started out wanting to “cure” autism or find a way to eradicate it by finding it in utero. They also originally claimed Autism was linked with vaccines which has been disproven time and time again there is no link. Autism isn’t something that needs cured. People with Autism aren’t a missing puzzle piece. It is a spectrum disorder they are all wonderfully unique in their own way.

(Link to article about autism speaks and why the autism community do not support this organization – https://theaspergian.com/2019/03/29/autism-speaks-just-no/ )

My daughter Abi (diagnoses ASD 1-2) is amazing I love her quirks ,her cheekiness everything that makes her her. I hate when people ask about her quirks and I explain she has Autism. The ignorance that radiates off them when they say oh sorry she has autism. Why do people say sorry. She is amazing she loves to sing and dance and has no care who sees. She has things she’s advanced in like puzzles and drawing. She has her challenges also with speech/comprehension/safety. We all have our strengths and weaknesses that doesn’t mean we should be singled out or made to feel less. Autism isn’t less it’s strengths and weakness’s that fit in a particular spectrum.

I love seeing the world through Abi’s eyes and carefree spirit. She teaches me about life just as much as I teach her. So for world autism day I ask please don’t ever say sorry to someone about them having Autism or to a parent of a child with Autism. Autism isn’t something to be sorry about it is something to embrace, love and learn about. It is appreciating everyone’s uniqueness. So take the time today to learn about Autism so we can be supportive and informed as a community and embrace everyone within our community.

Mummy Mondays

I have a little tradition with another mum called Mummy Mondays. I met my friend through our children. We are both single mum’s of special needs children. We met through a school program the kids were both attending. We discovered we had a lot in common with being first time Mum’s who are also single Parents of a child with Autism.

It is hard having your first child friendship circles change people you thought were friends drop off as you move in different circles and you have to find your feet as you adjust to a new part of your identity as a mother. Just as you are finding your feet from becoming a first time mum you end up a single parent. The same thing happens again friends drop off while friendships adjust to the separation. Being a woman you have to deal with the stigma of being a single Mum. Believe me this is very much still a thing. People assume being a single mum you are hungry for another man. Assumptions are made. Oh she must have chased him away. Oh she must have cheated, She must be after everyones husbands now as she wont want to raise a child alone. Oh she has a different last name from her child bet she has lots of kids with different surnames. Oh she must get another man so she is take care of. So many assumptions I wont even list them all. All I wanted to do was focus on my daughter 3 years later and I am still single and not interested in dating properly as my focus is my child and working on my writing. I’m not someone who needs a partner its nice if the right person comes along but that’s just not my focus or a priority im happy on my own.

It takes a while to adjust to becoming a first time mum and becoming a single parent. Just as you think ok ive got this you start noticing that your child isn’t hitting milestones the way they should be and there is unusual behaviors. I had a feeling she had autistic traits and made sure I spoke to the child health nurse and pediatrician. She was first diagnosed with borderline global developmental delay before later being diagnosed with Autism.

My friend went down a similar path and we got talking at school and become friends. Neither of us really got time to go do fun things just as adults. We were lacking much needed self care time. The kids both go to the same day care on a monday for socialization. So we made Mondays a self-care day where we would go do something fun. We generally go to the shops and/or go to the movies maybe grab a bite to eat. Just time to hang out and get some much-needed time out. Self care is so important and being a mum of a special needs child with multiple specialists, NDIS and all the stuff that needs to be done at home to help early intervention self care is needed to ensure I don’t burnout . It is exhausting. Dont get me wrong I am extremely proud of my daughter and how far she’s come she amazes me everyday but, I need time out to re energize so I can be the best mum I can be for her. It is so important for everyone to have some self care time. You can’t help fill everyone’s cup if your cup is empty. So make some time to smell some flowers or better yet get yourself some flowers and enjoy them brightening up your house. Make some time for you can be as simple as taking 5 and doing some mindfulness or taking a day like we do and just have some fun. Laughter and socializing is good for the soul. Make some time for you.

Nadia – xoxo

What do I stand for – Building a Brand I am proud of

Lately as I have been building my page and working on different projects I keep coming back to the same question. With everything that I am doing online what do I stand for? With the platform I have and my page growing at a very quick rate I want to make sure the content I am posting represents who I am as a person. So what I do and stand for need to go hand in hand. As well as aligning myself with brands I am proud to work with as an influencer I also want to align myself with charities and campaigns I am proud to work with to help make a difference. To become an advocate to the best of my ability. There are 2 main topics that are important to me.

The first Topic which is very close to my heart is raising awareness and educating people about Autism as I am a mother to an amazing little girl who is on the spectrum. There seems to be a huge lack of education to the general public about Autism and with now roughly 1 in 100 being diagnosed with ASD its important to be more aware. The amount of times I have gone to the shops and Abi has a had a meltdown to have someone go past angrily and tell me to control my child or tell her she’s naughty is incredibly frustrating. It makes the situation worse. I hate and try avoid having to turnaround and say she is Autistic and is overwhelmed as they either apologise or make some pretty hurtful comments. I had one person say she should have been put down. Peoples ignorance to ASD can be heartbreaking at times. Don’t get me wrong I have had other Autism parents come up to me and given some great advice or support. So now if people are staring or dare to comment during one of the more difficult times when we are out and about if appropriate and I have the chance I will educate them a bit about Autism. So the next time they walk past someone they go past with understanding and compassion instead of nasty comments.

Being in Western Australia my daughter went through Autism WA who are amazing. They have lots of information available on their website like common misconceptions and understanding behaviours https://www.autism.org.au/what-is-autism/ which is worth a read and only takes a few minutes.

The second is speaking out about Domestic Violence after living through domestic violence in more than one relationship. It is very important for me to speak out and for my voice to be heard. Even after being told by several women I should not post about it on such a large platform as it’s a trigger. I know its a trigger I have lived through it but staying silent and telling people not to talk about it is part of the problem and why people don’t seek help. So I will talk about it I will share posts about it and try get the conversation going so people can feel comfortable speaking out and get help without feeling ashamed and without being shunned by people saying it shouldn’t be spoken about. The topic should not be taboo, no one should feel scared or be in danger for fear of how others will react . The Australian epidemic is only getting worse with 68 Women dead so far this year due to domestic violence.  Do you know 1 in 2 women will be sexually harassed in their lifetime. 1 in 5 will experience sexual violence and 1 in 4 will suffer emotional abuse from a partner. Even after they leave 40 % still suffer domestic violence from their ex. These numbers should have everyone outraged and working together to share awareness and make change. Make sure you take notice if you have a friend , colleague, family member suffering domestic violence. Be someone they can talk to. Be someone they can go to, to feel safe and then arm yourself with the information to get them help. Together let’s make our community safer. This also goes the other way if you see someone acting violent or emotionally abusive to someone. If safe to do so talk to them try to get them to seek help to work through their issues. It is great to help someone to safety but the root cause of the issue of the perpetrator needs to be addressed too.

I will continue to regularly share stats as well as numbers people can call for help like 1800 RESPECT which is a 24 hour National Sexual assault, family and domestic violence help line.

For information and stats go to https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/understand-domestic-violence/facts-violence-women/domestic-violence-statistics/

For numbers of people killed by domestic violence go to http://theredheartcampaign.org/

A great charity I regularly post about in my stories on Instagram is https://www.sharethedignity.com.au/ they support homeless women in crisis by giving them essentials. They have a christmas campaign coming up I will be posting about so people can donate items. Do you know the main cause of homelessness is people fleeing domestic violence. So charities like this are doing great work to help women.

If you are feeling charitable the best thing to do is donate clothes (Adults and children’s of all sizes) and household items to your local women’s shelters so your items go directly to people who need them. They are always needing essential items like feminine hygiene products, Nappy’s, formula, baby items, children’s toys and books, cots, bassinet’s, baby baths, food donations (non perishables). If you want to donate and are unsure contact your local shelters and they will tell you what products/items are most needed at that time.

Now I have touched on the two main topics to which I will support related charities and campaigns for, I want to make sure that my brand which is my name and me as a person are always in line. In my blogs I will touch on many different subjects but will always stay on task and ensure I am sharing a message I feel needs to be shared. My instagram will always have content I am proud to share. Working only with companies that have good strong values and correct brand alignment. Lastly the book I am working on, I will ensure holds the same strong values I have with standing up and being a voice for those that can not or haven’t the strength to do so yet.

So what do I stand for? I stand for educating people about Autism, I stand up for survivors of domestic violence and to try break the stigma around talking about domestic violence and bringing awareness about the heartbreaking stats to help make change. I stand for donating to charities to make a direct difference to those in need. Most importantly I stand to make sure that I leave the world a better place for my daughter and those around me.

Nadia

xoxo