Peel Zoo – fun for the whole family.

School holidays and weekends are always great for trying new experiences. We ventured out to Peel Zoo in Pinjarra which was about 30 minutes from where we live.

The staff were very friendly when we got there giving us a map and telling us about the day’s free activities they had on that day. They accept the NDS companion card so parents like me who have a special needs child and need an extra person, the extra person is covered for free on the companion card.

As you walk in you see the ferrets and several tanks on display with different reptiles. The front area when you walk in also has tables for public use to have your lunch or a rest.

As you walk round there are several areas you can go into and see the animals up close. We went and fed the kangaroos. Cuddled an alpaca or two. The dears, sheep and goats were pretty friendly too. The walk in Avery was a huge hit with the kids but I wasn’t to comfortable with the birds landing on me haha.

There are free activities held throughout the day. Abi’s favorite was getting to hold a snake. The staff member seen how much Abi loved holding the snake and when the line died down invited her to hold the snake again which made her day.

After exploring and seeing the animals we went for a short walk to the restaurant across the bridge and sat down and enjoyed a meal with the kids. The setting was beautiful with a big bridge and beautiful grassed area the kids loved exploring. It was a great way to end the day’s adventure.

We will be going back again for sure as it was a huge hit with everyone. Best of all I discovered on the website they do annual passes.

So when visiting Mandurah/Perth take a trip out the the friendly Peel zoo for some great animal encounters everyone will enjoy.

http://www.peelzoo.com.au

School holiday activity – The Pirate Ship Mandurah

School holidays are in full swing and we are loving it. We are trying to fit in a few big activities this break. So we decided to be Pirates because we rrrrrrrr. We took some time out on The Pirate Ship Manduarah : https://pirateshipmandurah.com.au/boat-cruises/pirate-cruise

Waiting on the jetty as the ship docked ready for our pirate voyage Abi’s whole face lit up as she yelled PIRATES at the top of her lungs. The other kids in line were just as excited as we were ushered on board by our pirate tour guide.

The ship is full of character with the pirate flags and a big kraken painted on the front. The staff are amazing and from the very first moment you get on the boat they set the mood and have everyone (parents and kids) entertained. There are pirate jokes galore. They provide dress up stuff for the kids and even I got a pirate hat.

The ship departs every hour between 10-3 every day during the holidays or Thursday-Sunday during the school term and sails between the mandurah canals. We were treated by some of the bottlenose dolphins swimming next to the ship for all to see. There is a large pod of dolphins that live in the canals so there is a good chance of seeing them during the pirate tour.

It is a great and affordable family outing for all to enjoy. So when visiting Mandurah get your tickets and enjoy being a pirate on the pirate cruise arrrrrrgg.

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

Life’s a journey – part 2 – Emergency C Section

……As the nurse stood there shaving the top of my lady jungle I was scared about what was to come. It was a laugh or cry moment. I normally revert back to humor when nervous so joked and asked her “are we going steady now?”. The nurse could see what I was doing and cracked a few jokes in retort to mine to lighten the mood. She helped me get in the gown and my hands began to tremble.

As we opened the door to the room I had been prepped in there was another nurse waiting for us in scrubs. He had a wheelchair and asked me to hop in. They put my stuff in a bag and we immediately headed to theater. We went down halls with no windows and so many lights. I remember one flickering, distracting me if only for a second of my impending fate.

I kept thinking this is not the birth I had planned. I had planned a water birth minimal drugs as I didn’t want the baby affected. With my partner and Doula there to support me. A Peaceful environment with my relaxing play list I had put together. I had only packed my baby bag days before hand still sitting in the unfinished nursery not realizing it would be needed so soon.  I realized we hadn’t even contacted my Doula in the rush of everything happening so quickly. On the grand scheme of things and how fast everything had gone that was the least of my problems. In a perfect world it would have went according to plan. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and it’s always throwing curve balls our way. All we can do is ride the wave and hope it all turns out ok.

Entering the surgical theater I wanted to run I wanted to pretend none of this was happening. It was all too real. I felt sick and I wanted to throw up. I smiled politely at the staff but inside I was freaking out. I thought to myself this shouldn’t be happening this was a nightmare. I had to concentrate on my breathing to try ground myself as I didn’t want to make anything worse for my baby, even if I was freaking out and scared for her. I asked the staff what happens now? They said they didn’t have time for an epidural that scared me even more, and I thought to myself how bad is this? Is my baby going to survive? is she already dead?they already lost her heartbeat once. If they don’t have time for an epidural this situation must be really bad. I asked if I could be knocked out as it was all too real, but they said it would be too dangerous as anything I have passes to her. They said they would do a straight spinal block. No numbing just a big needle straight in my back. If I thought I was freaking out before I was really freaking out now. The nurse could see I was obviously scared and started chatting to me to take my mind off it while they prepped the drugs for the spinal block. I wondered if it would hurt and the doctor told me not to worry as “he makes a great cocktail”.

They leaned me over a cushion while I held my partners hand. I felt the coolness of the liquid they used on the area tingling cold on my skin before inserting the needle. The cold of the liquid gave me goosebumps. It was the most unique pain I have ever felt when they put the needle in. Too scared to move but in pain I let out a small noise and squeezed my partners hand while tears rolled down my cheeks. After it was done they lay me back on the bed and got me in what I called my Jesus pose my arms were out and I could see them moving my legs but I could not feel them. It was bizarre to see part of my body moving but not feel it. Then the screen went up. The nurse next to me held one hand while my partner held the other. I thought to myself laugh or cry so we reverted back to humor quoting silly lines from tv shows like the mighty boosh, trying to distract myself from the fact my body was being cut open behind a screen.

I felt some tugging that brought me back to reality. I asked the nurse if that was normal and she said yes and made sure I wasn’t in any discomfort. Then came some immense pressure, I felt winded. When I caught my breath I yelled out what are you doing? I will never forget the face that popped up from behind the screen. He looked at me and in a calm voice explained they were pushing the baby out. Confused I said don’t you just pull it out? I seen his eyebrow raise and he said no we dont just pull it out. His head still looking at me went back down behind the screen. It was a rightio as you were moment. I felt more pushing but kept telling myself what they were doing was getting my daughter out. I had to grit and bear it and wait. Then I suddenly felt lighter and a tiny angry little squeal was heard. She was alive my baby was ALIVE. It was the most beautiful little noise I ever heard. Relief washed over me. I watched as they immediately moved her to check her over. I could see she was absolutely tiny. I had never seen such a small baby before. One minute she had been in me the next she was out naked and screaming. She was tiny perfection. They checked her over thoroughly and said they would be moving her immediately to the neonatal nursery and asked if her father wanted to go with her. He chose to stay with me as I still had to be stitched up.

Getting stitched up felt like forever. The stitches took longer than the surgery as they had to do 3 layers of stitches. The uterus, the muscle wall and then the skin. I was growing impatient but the nurse kept talking to us to distract us talking us through what was going on behind the curtain. By the end of it I was wondering with all the stitching if surgeon’s maybe moonlight as seamstress’s. When they finished the hundreds of stitches I was wheeled into recovery. I kept asking if I could go see my baby? was she ok? what was happening? They just kept distracting me with questions then every now and then asking if I could feel anything yet. Then to my surprise they pulled out a zooper dooper (icey pole) and they were testing my legs to see what I could feel it. I couldn’t yet but I sure wanted to eat the zooper dooper ( I ended up eating 3)  As the spinal block faded I started to shake violently and had a bit of a rash. I was kept in recovery until the block wore off and I stopped shaking.

I was not sure how much time had passed by but all I wanted was my baby. Part of me was missing and in another part of the hospital. I longed to be with her, with every fiber of my being. When they wheeled me to my room on the gurney I asked the nurse what can I do to be able to see my baby? I was told until I could get in the wheelchair I could not go up to the neonatal and see her. I was willing to do whatever it took. They wanted me to rest for a bit but all I wanted was my baby girl so they got me some strong painkillers and warned me it may be very uncomfortable to get in the chair as I had just had major surgery. I didn’t care, I took the medication and waited anxiously for it to kick in. I was so close to being able to get up and see her. Then my world went fluffy….. whatever the painkiller I had been given was , I was now floating on clouds. My daughters father looked at me and asked if I was ok? I was wonderful no pain not a care in the world. The nurse walked in and had a half smile on her face ” I see the medications working how you feeling” So I told her I was flufffyy. She laughed a little “you ready to go in this wheelchair and meet your baby?” to which I responded “BABIES all the BABIES” the nurse and my daughters father both burst into laughter at that. I got off the bed and onto the wheel chair with a bit of help. Even in the haze of the fluffyness I felt excited and scared I was finally going to see my baby.

Down the corridor and through the double set of locked doors we entered the neonatal nursery. There were incubators and plastic tilted bassinets. A small room filled with tiny babies and that sterile hospital smell. All I wanted was my baby. They wheeled me over to her incubator. The incubator had little windows I could open and put my hand through. I burst into tears as I held my daughters perfect little hand for the first time “hello Abigail I have been waiting to meet you”. Seeing her for the first time up close she was so tiny. Her skin looked thin and I could see little veins and the pulse on the soft spot of her head. The nurse told us she weighed only 1.72kgs (3.79lbs) I wanted to hold her and to my surprise and delight the nurse got my baby out and put her in my arms for the first time and helped me hold her. It was everything I imagined and more nothing ever prepares you for the moment, the euphoria, the overwhelming love that hits you. There aren’t words that truly cover the feeling you have when you hold the life which you grew and created for the first time bundled in your arms. Everything else melts away and its you and this little soul. In that moment I pledged myself to my daughter. To do everything I could so she grew up happy and healthy. Where she goes I go.

In that neonatal nursery we started the longest 3 weeks of our lives. We entered the NICU bubble………………

 

 

The evolution of advertising through social media.

I remember buying my first magazine when I was a kid seeing all the gorgeous models and ads for products. It made me think of how these beautiful images were made. Over the years of doing modeling I seen just what went into the creation of these advertising images.

The bulk of advertising use to be in magazines and on TV. Over the past couple of years how products and brands are advertised has evolved. Social media has taken over our lives with Facebook, Instagram , Twitter etc it’s how we connect with people and businesses. This has seen the rise of influencers these are people with huge followings that collaborate/advertise products using their social media platform. These collaborations have been so successful it’s not just people with millions of followers that do influencing work. There are also influencers classed as micro influencers these are accounts with over 3 thousand followers.

With such a great new way to advertise it’s not like before when company’s just hired a model from an agency they did a photo shoot and the images were used. The model had no more obligation. Brands now have the chance to hire a model or influencer with a large following. This means they not only have advertising material to use but it’s shared on the influencers page giving the products/ advertising material a much bigger reach. Using an influencer aligned with the product means they reach a broader audience more likely to purchase the advertised product.

It’s amazing how much technology and social media has changed the advertising game. It has opened a lot more doors to a generation of budding entrepreneurs.

For more info on content management (Influencing) follow the link on the menu bar.

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