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

Coming out from between the pages and letting my creativity flow.

I have written about my love of reading before. So what made me take the leap to write a book? What a big jump it is from my passion of reading and constantly devouring books like some crazed bibliophile.  Books have forever been my escape from whatever is going on. To lose myself between the pages of a book and enter new places and worlds. The truth is I have been through more heartache and trauma than most do in a lifetime in my 32 years. These things I have lived through, these life experiences, made me want to have an escape to channel the emotions that came with them. How better to channel them than through a creative outlet like writing. It allows a writer to escape to wherever their mind takes them and to take others with them on that journey. To put the emotions into scenes with characters in any place and time of the writers choosing. I also do this with my blog series life’s a journey sharing some of these life experiences.

I am taking my time and slowly tackling writing my book. This isn’t something that happens over night I have had the idea for my book for many years. The past 2 years or so I have been doing the research needed as it is historical fiction meaning the places , clothes, plants all the finer details have to be correct for the time as well as location of places. I have done short stories, poems, essays, blogs and creative writing projects through uni but never a book. This is a challenge and goal I have set myself.

Over the years I have read thousands of books and always come back to fantasy, history and historical fiction. My book is based in 839-843 AD in what would one day become Scotland. It could be classed currently as a mix of historical fiction and fantasy as its based loosely around events that happened and also folklore.  I am doing allot of research to ensure everything from the animals and scenery of the time are correct. I want to do what my favorite books do, take readers into the story, set the scenes so it takes them away into that place and time. Jean M Auel did it beautifully in The Clan of the Cave bear. It is evident how much research she did of the time with the knowledge of plants and animals that went into it but the research on how they communicated to make the characters more 3 dimensional to get you to understand them on a deeper level.

A lot of authors get inspiration from history. George RR Martin was inspired by the battle of the roses. The War of the Roses was a series of civil wars that were fought for control of the throne of England. It was fought between two rival branches of the royal House of Plantaganet, the House of Lancaster, associated with the red rose, and the House of York, whose symbol was a white rose. These civil wars were fought between 1455 – 1485. Reading his books and watching the series it becomes clear the inspiration he took from historical events and he weaved it into magic that captured the intrigue of millions of people.

Some authors are even inspired by other stories. Sarah J mass book A court of thorns and roses was inspired by Beauty and the beast. It’s a much more grittier version to begin with then transforms into something you wouldn’t see coming. The second book in the series was inspired by Hades and Persephone. Every writer is an artist and sees one story that can be transformed into something else or can make something from nothing and make it enthralling.

Sometimes it just takes that spark of inspiration. For me my passion for history and missing my homeland inspired me to research many years ago. As I read more it came to me. The idea of the story, the times in history I wanted to work round. As read about the time period I also read about the folklore of the times of the Sidhe and wulvers. Before I knew it characters started to come to mind, a story to re-write history.

For more on my upcoming book as it develops stay up to date with my blog. As I delve more into the story write and then re write I will post up info on characters and bits and pieces of the story.

Charity – we can all make a difference to someone in need.

Since I was a child I have always been brought up and believed that it is up to all of us to make a difference. Whether it’s donating what we don’t need or donating when we could. I remember my primary school doing a food drive for non perishable foods that was donated to those in need. Fun runs to raise money for charity’s. Ever since I was a child I have always had people around me trying to help others. My mum was always very generous to those around her and is the type to give her last dollar to someone else if they needed it more. I have always found it important to try help when I can. I’m in no way rich in fact I’m a single mother to a child with special needs. Rich or poor we can all make a difference if we want to.

As an adult I have worked for company’s that have worked alongside different charity’s, when I worked at Dale Alcock Homes we were able to volunteer at the Salvos at Christmas time during work hours to help pack food hampers and Christmas presents for family’s in need. It was encouraged as I found Dale to be a very kind and charitable man who encouraged his staff positively. That was 10 years ago and every Christmas time since then I have volunteered time and items around this time of year. Even when I lived in Margaret River I donated at the local community center packing hampers for families in need. The past few years it’s been harder as I have had my hands full with Abi so I like to donate items. This year I donated to the It’s in the bag Campaign by Share the Dignity Australia. I have also raised awareness and donations for CBM Australia whose mission is to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in the poorest countries.

Now I’m a mother I want to set the best example to my daughter about compassion and helping others when we can. I think being involved in the community and charities is important in helping children become responsible kind adults.

This time of year is not always a happy one for a lot of people. So make a donation no matter how small and it could make a hard time more bearable and might even put a smile on a strangers face.

Here are some great charities I like to donate to and might give a good starting point for others that want to help.

https://www.sharethedignity.com.au/contact-share-dignity/

https://www.autism.org.au/donate/

Homepage

https://homelessconnect.volunteeringwa.org.au/donations

https://www.makeawish.org.au/?gclid=Cj0KCQiArqPgBRCRARIsAPwlHoXEWXvaO4w-dfP4ucwhv0Sk-_T3uGEN2XXZJeoc8EPAS4m3xzMfSlwaAkEPEALw_wcB

Happy festive season

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