Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘auditory processing

Storm

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I love a good storm.  The fizz and boom in the air.  The sense of awe in the power of a lightning strike.  It makes perfect sense to me that our ancestors would venerate this energy, make idols of nature’s strength.

I love the feeling after the storm has passed; the air now lighter and purer.  It smells fresher.  The mind feels less fuzzy.  Everything is calm and rejuvenated.

What I don’t like, is the feeling before a storm.  The chaotic, swirling build-up.  The stifling, oppressive air.  The darkness.

Bring it on, I think.  Rage as you will.  We’ll breathe easier when you’ve finished raging.

Cubby is now terrified of storms.  Always sensitive to sound, he cannot take the claps of thunder here, more powerful than any other place we’ve lived.  And when his anxiety is up, when he can’t tolerate another assault, that is when the chime of nearby burglar alarms ring out in unison as houses are struck, foundations shaken.

We are just at the beginning of the stormy season here in Johannesburg, the lightning strike capital of the world.  It is going to be a rough few months for our sensitive son.

His anxiety has swollen now that to the extent that it isn’t just experiencing a storm that scares him, like me, he can no longer stand the build-up.  He’ll perseverate on the darkening skies, the thick clouds, that heavy air that he can’t describe but he feels all too much.  But he doesn’t will on the inevitable, he just wants to escape from something that is everywhere.

It isn’t just storm season, we’re also raging through bidding season.  We have no idea where we’ll be living next year, and trying to match up jobs with the schooling and therapeutic needs of our children is stifling.  This time around it feels harder than ever before.  Instead of excitement at the build-up to another transformation, I feel anxious about the inevitable life-altering changes that are coming our way.  Like Cubby, I want to block it all out.

“It won’t hurt us, ” I tell us both, one stormy afternoon earlier this week.

I have no such need to comfort Pudding.  Incredible, indomitable Pudding.  She cavorts in circles as the storm rages outside, perhaps feeling the buzz in an entirely different way.  Though her ears cannot tolerate mechanical and low-frequency noises, she seems to find natural sounds invigorating.  She doesn’t tell me she enjoys the thunder, but her happy hum indicates it is an entirely welcome sensation.

I pick up Cubby, and copy Pudding’s patterns.  At first she stops, curious as to the game.  Then she carries on, and soon we are all laughing, as we dance around the room, forgetting all about what is happening outside our walls.

Bring on the storm.  Let it rage as it will.  My girl shows us how to frolic and laugh as though the sun is always shining through crashing changes, and remember the excitement of a fresh calm that will be ours soon.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 18, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Sensory to Supernatural

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About a month ago, I went to see Cubby’s teacher for his report.  Now, Cubby is 4 and only in preschool, and I’m not really sure we should be doing reports, but this is the way of the school, so we do.  Actually, it is a good time to catch up with the teacher and address any concerns.  Cubby gets speech and OT during school hours, and the therapists send me weekly reports, and on the whole he is doing well.

On the whole he is doing well at school too.  He has a couple of areas of brilliance, and a couple of areas of all-too-familiar struggles.  For the most part, there was nothing new.  This teacher likes Cubby and handles his eccentricities and active imagination very well.  Only one thing she said actually surprised me: he wasn’t participating in music class.

Cubby loves music.  He is musical.  Even in his sleep he makes harmonic noises.  He loves to sing, and he can identify all the popular songs that come on the radio.  When I told him my friend had written the music for one of the songs we heard on the radio, he became convinced that all music was made by our family and friends.  He doesn’t always let me sing, but he certainly enjoys to do so himself.  My dad plays guitar in a band, and Cubby tells me he will be a rock star too.  He struts and dances like a Jagger-Mercury hybrid, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

But telling me he won’t participate in music class?  That surprises me.  Cubby being quiet?  Surprises me even more.

I wondered if he just didn’t like the choice of rhymes.  If the teacher played Maroon 5, Fun or (eek) Bon Jovi, she’d surely see another side to him.

Or would she?

Cubby was singing at the dinner table some South African song I wasn’t familiar with, and I guessed he’d heard it at school.  I asked him why he didn’t sing in music class, and his response shouldn’t have come as a surprise to a seasoned spectrummy mummy.  He loves hearing himself sing, but the other kids sing “different.”  I guess some of his classmates-like me- sing different notes (okay, off-key), and he just can’t stand it.  He told me he really didn’t like music class, and didn’t want to go any more.

We had a little chat about how problems have solutions, and if something is hard for him, he can always tell us so we can look for ways to make it better.

I suggested he wear his blue head ‘cones’ to protect his ears, and he was so enthused with this idea that he was wearing them the next morning before even setting off for school.  I emailed the OT for her suggestions (that would be another round of Therapeutic Listening) and pulled them from his head to tuck in his backpack.

And then came the next problem: without the protection he could hear ghosts, vampires and zombies.  But problems have solutions, I just need to shift the battle from sensory to supernatural.

 

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

September 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I’m a Belieber

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Justin Bieber performing at the Conseco Fieldh...

Justin Bieber performing at the Conseco Fieldhouse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My kids are musical.  I don’t mean this in the sense that they are prodigies- then don’t even play instruments.  Pudding seems to get her musical tone from me (alas), but Cubby can carry a tune.  They enjoy music and it is a big part of their lives.

There may be something about the rhythm that helps Pudding to learn.  She still says her ABCs through the alphabet song, and that is also the way she learned her days of the week.  We sing silly songs to each other with her name in them- music is just another tool for me to engage my children.

Both children have auditory processing dysfunction, so we have tried various therapeutic listening approaches to try and help, but haven’t seen much improvement in that respect.  They don’t always enjoy modified music, but they do enjoy listening to regular music, and making their own (kind of).

In our previous car we had a CD player, and inevitably played two CDs the whole time.  One was mostly nursery rhymes, other kids songs, and the odd bit of Elmo- this was Cubby’s choice.  Pudding prefers female voices, so her CD featured Feist, The Carpenters and ABBA.

Our current car (though not for much longer) only has a cassette deck, so we listen to the radio instead.  A lot of the music gives me a headache, but the kids prefer it to silence.  Still, one of the presenters has a really nice voice, so even when he reads bad news, it sounds good.

I noticed a few weeks ago that Pudding has developed a couple of new artists to her repertoire.  She sings along (kind of) with Adele and Nicki Minaj.  It is interesting to me that she only likes female voices, and I think a big part of her fearing men / preferring women is that deeper voices are disturbing to her sound sensitivity.

Two weeks ago, we were in the car and a song came on that has been played a lot here over the last few weeks: Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend.”  Cubby began singing along with it, which was the first time he’d shown a preference for a song that wasn’t a rhyme.  When we came inside, he was still singing, so of course I joined in with him.  Even if I prefer my Justins of the Timberlake variety- this particular song is pretty catchy.

I love that they are both finding their own personal style, and learning how to express themselves in all the many ways we human beings can.

Last week we were in the queue to get some medicine from the pharmacy, when the loudspeaker switched on.  Normally loudspeakers (and fireworks) are the enemy for Cubby.  But lo and behold, on comes the Justin Bieber song.  To the amusement of the other customers, he announces with delight:

“Mummy, it’s our song!”

And it is wonderful, because this is him using music to engage with me.  This is social reciprocity, and I’ll take it any way it comes.  I never thought I’d say it, but I suppose that makes me a Belieber.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

June 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

In The Quiet (by Spectrummy Daddy)

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Spectrummy Daddy wrote this post for his personal blog, and I thought it belonged over here too…

 

Since the people reading this are probably friends of mine, I don’t have to tell you the my lovely daughter has Autism.  We’ve been very open about it, and luckily for us she is high functioning.  However, my daughter also has issues when it comes to loud noises.  On Saturday at a birthday party the magician popped balloons and she freaked out.  If there is a huge commotion she will become paralyzed with fear.  It’s one of the most heart-breaking things you’ll ever see.  This very tall 4 year old just crumbles into a pile and screams.  Because she also has Sensory Processing issues, she covers her eyes as well to try and make the noise stop.  It’s almost like she’s seeing sounds.

On a similar note, as most of you know, I listen to a lot of music.  Usually it’s pumping pretty loudly and it switches my brain off which allows me to stay calm as I suffer ocassionally from anxiety.  Different reactions to the same loud noise.  My lovely daughter does love music too, but usually when it’s not too loud and when she can sing very loudly, if not always on key.

The reason I’ve told you all this is because I’ve noticed something that maybe my daughter has correct.  Last night when I was sitting in my children’s room waiting for them to go to sleep, I had my music on.  It was tuned low so it wouldn’t disturb them, and I started to notice something.  Songs I had heard numerous times before sounded different.  There were added parts that made the sound richer and more full.  “Take Five” by Dave Brubek, only one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded, sounded even better than usual as I could hear all the parts clearly and see how they all fit together.  “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups has a stick part from the drummer in the break I had never really heard fully before.  It’s pretty intricate.

It was amazing, and it made me think that maybe too loud is an issue for me too.  Maybe it’s an issue with everyone.  Maybe we have everything so loud we can’t listen to nuance.  Perhaps the problem with society is that we all have sensory issues, but we can chose to ignore them and we do.  Sadly my daughter can’t, so we’ll have to figure out how to turn the sound down on the world for her.  Maybe we all can do that, and listen to the intricate parts of life, and see how we all fit together.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

September 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Backbone

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I might have done it at any point during the last week.  It might have been as Pudding climbed up my body and held on tight as she refused to go to school.  It might have been any day I had to scoop up Cubby to take him home from Pudding’s school, because he wanted to stay there.  It might have been bending down to put on shoes, or picking up discarded toys.  It might have been pushing Pudding on her indoor swing to get the vestibular input that she needs.  But I think I hurt my back on Tuesday.

On Tuesday I’d gone with my another mother to a playgroup with her kids.  She thought Cubby might enjoy it too, and she was right.  The class was run by an occupational therapist, designed to get toddlers involved with sensory-motor play.  Pudding is only in school in the morning, and I wasn’t sure how she’d do in the class, but we went along away.

Almost immediately, Pudding was overloaded.  It was busy and over-stimulating.  The room was filled with toddlers and their mothers, and all over the walls and hanging from the ceilings were props from that week’s theme: nursery rhymes.  Pudding ran around to touch everything, which was the whole idea, but Pudding doesn’t know her own strength, and I had to leave Cubby as I trailed around making sure she didn’t break anything.  It was time to sit down for the class, and Pudding didn’t want to sit.

The music began.  It was loud.  Too loud for both my kids.  Too loud for me these days, feeling every sensory assault for them, even if my senses are perfectly in sync.  Cubby spied some toys outdoors and began hammering on the patio doors to get out.  I was still holding Pudding down, and unable to bring him back to the circle.  Eventually I made myself heard over the music, and by some miracle he returned.  There were songs and dances, and soon Cubby was participating, so we stayed.  Pudding quieted down and remained on the mat beside me.  Then it was finally time for outdoor play.

All the kids stampeded outside, but for one: Pudding.  She was curled up in the child’s pose, her arms wrapped around her head.  The din was too much for her.  I stroked her hair, and asked her to come outside.  She didn’t hear me.  She’d protected herself by withdrawing.  I pulled her into my lap and she closed her eyes, her senses too confused to adequately protect herself from the onslaught.

I needed to get her away from the noise.  I picked up all 50 pounds of my incredibly tall 4 year-old, and carried her outdoors.  Instantly she was better, but I paid the price as I pulled the muscles in my back.  It still hurts if I bend down, twist my spine, or lift something up.  I don’t know about you, but I’m always bending down, twisting, or lifting something, or someone up.

If you are a caregiver, the chances are that at some point, you will hurt your back.  Perhaps your loved one has a physical disability, and you help to move them from the wheelchair to another chair or bed.  Maybe you are a carer for someone like my girl, who has balance problems, and seeks support by hanging around your neck, throwing your center of gravity off.  It could be that you are at times hugging or carrying your child as though they are still a baby, only they weigh several times what they did as an infant.

In the last few months, life has been hectic.  I’ve slipped with the one thing I shouldn’t: taking care of myself.  I didn’t bring any workout videos with me in the air baggage.  I intend to join a gym as soon as the kids are both settled in school, but we’re not there yet.  It will absolutely become a priority now.  The kids are depending on me, perhaps a little more than most children depend on their mother.

At least this was only a minor injury, and I’m sure to recover very soon.  I’m glad for the reminder to take care of myself, keep myself healthy, both emotionally and physically.  I’m the backbone, the support for the family, and I intend to be that for as long as I have to.  I need to be strong.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Wordless Wednesday 18 May 2011

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Happy Wordless Wednesday everybody.

Yesterday I broke my camera lens, boo.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 18, 2011 at 7:05 am

Wordless Wednesday 16 Mar 11

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Sensory Integration- my girl can never get too much at once. Right after this she went for a swing.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 16, 2011 at 7:40 am