Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘smell

Scent of a Pudding

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As far as we know, Pudding wasn’t able to smell things for a long time.  As with many of her senses, she was hypo-reactive to smell.  I didn’t know this for a long time, because how do you know if a small child can smell or not if they aren’t able to tell you?  Also, Pudding would frequently call things “stinky”, so I assumed, as I was wont to do back then, that there was no problem with her olfactory sense.

Mr. Hindsight (that smug old detective who goes around solving problems too late to be of use to anyone ) informed me that Pudding was using visual or auditory clues to identify when to use the term stinky, it had nothing to do with actually smelling anything bad.  For instance, a foul diaper (nappy) hidden away in a trash can would go unnoticed by Pudding, but if she saw her brother being changed, she would correctly identify it as a stinky one.

When a child is hyper or overreacts to smell, it is pretty obvious.  They’ll be disturbed by strong odours, and can even become physically sick when in the presence of an odour that is too strong.  When the child’s sensory perception presents like Pudding’s, it is harder to tell.  Kids who are unable to smell may lick or taste objects, but then they could be doing that for other reasons too.  Sometimes those who are under-responsive to smell go around sniffing objects and people.  That wasn’t our girl, so we figured we’d got away with one of her senses behaving reasonably normally.

I got some flowers for Mother’s Day, and Pudding asked to smell them.  She pressed her nose deep into the petals and inhaled for several seconds.  She was starting to smell.  Every time I cooked I’d offer her a sniff of a fruit or vegetable.  She likes to smell hot drinks, maybe because the steam adds an extra sensation for our girl.  She has slowly begun to identify scents without visual cues, like stating that a restaurant smells like pizza.  Now she gives her own descriptions, like a product smells “like babies.”

I can only imagine how those flowers in the garden must smell to her!

She still isn’t able to identify many precise smells, even strong ones like lemon, but she is getting there.  For me it is almost tangible proof that connections are being made in her brain.  To simplify things to a point that I can understand them, it feels like her sense of smell has been turned on, and is slowly working its way up to full power.  I’m curious as to what will happen next.  Will her sense of smell begin to function properly, or will we see more problems with modulation: sometimes seeking smells, sometimes being overwhelmed by them?

Right now, of all her senses, this is the least problematic.  She asks to smell food items, and if she likes it, she’ll have a taste.  So far, so typical.  She isn’t going around smelling people (yet) and is able to go to places with strong odours.  When I was pregnant with her, I went through the classic phase of overreacting to certain smells.  I couldn’t go down the coffee aisle in a supermarket, and I’d feel sick at the burger smell as I walked past fast food restaurants.  So far, we aren’t seeing anything like that in Pudding.

But I would still say there is something out of the ordinary about her sense of smell.  One morning last week I woke up to Pudding….how shall I put this?  Making her own fragrant sounds and smells.  I asked her if she wanted to go to the bathroom, but she declined with a giggle.  She continued with her funky music-making.

Me: Please go to the bathroom, it is stinky.

Pudding: No Mummy, it’s not stinky.  My trumps smell like flowers!

Sometimes I’m envious of her sensory dysfunction.  No matter how much I breathed in the odor, my nose never could detect those floral notes that are the signature scent of a Pudding!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

September 6, 2011 at 3:16 am

The Mama Bear

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Cubby enjoying a mama bear hug

Remember a while ago when I had a sleep-related epiphany?  You don’t?  Well then go back here and catch up.  My challenge was to tame the monster of sleep with my very own pheromones.  So how did I succeed?

Well, I began by finding a nice soft cotton blanket to sleep on, and kept it in my bed for a week..  I then transferred it to Cubby’s bed and…..it kind of worked.  It worked for a couple of days, but it soon hit a few snags.  It would get crumpled up and lost in the bed.  Or worse, it got crumpled up and was uncomfortable underneath him.  Then somebody told me that I needed to sleep on it for 3 weeks anyway, so that was that.  Back to the beginning.

Next I slept on it for 3 weeks, and it worked better.  He napped and slept for longer.  Then, disaster.  When I washed his sheets his blanket got caught up in the laundry and washed away all trace of me.  We still had the problem of the blanket scuttling out of place anyway.  We still had to deal with putting him back to sleep when he woke up.  It needed a rethink.

One day he was playing in Pudding’s room (he is such a little brother) when he appeared to take a shine to one of her bears.  He carried it into his room, and I let him keep it because the bear isn’t Ernie, Upsy-Daisy, or Sleeping Beauty, so who cares?  Not Pudding.  It was a comical sight watching him carry the bear, which is slightly bigger than he is.  That is when it occurred to me that the bear would be big enough to wear, say, my nightgown.  Oh yes.  So we dressed her up, and called her Mama Bear.

Mama Bear doesn’t wiggle around or get lost in bed.  This Mama Bear is just right.  And if her scent starts to run out, I can switch with more night wear.  Easy-peasy.  It works for Cubby.  We are seeing bountiful nights of sleep and unprecedented 2 hour naps.  He napped so long when I was ill that I managed to take one too.  Rest my body was craving.  It is a no-tech, no-cost, no-hassle solution.  Hopefully it will be useful to somebody else out there.

You must be thinking that I would be all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after all the sleep I’m getting, but sadly no.  We’re still fine tuning Pudding’s nighttime needs.  In her case, we can’t use the Mama Bear approach as she will only sleep with Ernie, and he has his own clothes.  I think she has outgrown the weight of her weighted blanket, which might be part of it, and there might be a behavioral component too.  She came into our bed when she was sick at the weekend, and has tried to every night since.  Now she no longer gets out of bed in the night, but we hear her talking, and we’re back to VERY early rising.

I’ll let you when we work out a solution for her.  I’m sure that sooner or later we will.  After all, necessity is the mother of invention, and sleep is definitely a necessity.  Particularly for this Mama Bear.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 7, 2011 at 7:53 am

Making Scents

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Miniature perfume dispensers

Image by williamcho via Flickr

You have to excuse the bad pun titles, I just can’t help myself.  Now, do you remember a few weeks ago I talked about Pudding’s sleep habits?  You don’t remember?  Okay, go back and read it, I’ll be right here. Check out the comments too, while you’re there.  I’m not the only one, see.

Okay, hello again.  Yes, sleep.  Ask my friend Alysia about it.  It is a rare commodity indeed.  Solving this issue would mean big business, I’m sure.  Cubby, being our last and final child gets the benefit of our exhaustive attempts at dealing with this.  We know that we can’t train him to sleep, so instead we just gave him what he wanted.  For a long time that was to sleep next to me, and nurse whenever he chose.  Then he weaned himself (I know, I didn’t think kids did that either!) at 14 months, and he sleeps by himself, as long as a few conditions are met.  Those conditions being that he is not expected to go to sleep by himself, it is your job to do that.  He also is not expected to sleep in a crib (cot).  I suppose those are for babies.  He doesn’t care what all the books/articles/doctors/well-intentioned but deeply annoying advice-givers say.  There shall be a bath, a story, and cuddles/hair-pulling until he is snoozing.  Not drowsy, not on the verge of sleep.  Actually gone.  If you try to leave before this, he will be up before you make your move, and you will have to start all over again.  Your call.  Personally, I’m okay with his rules.

Now Cubby is 18 months old.  Do you remember what I said happened to Pudding’s naps at this age?  They stopped.  They wouldn’t return, those glory days of yore were gone.  Cubby not only suffers from not being the first-born, but he is also sibling to a spectrummy child who has to be schlepped to speech and occupational therapy sessions all the time.  And he has special needs too.  Needs that don’t have a name yet, but look very familiar to my eye.  I also have to add in playgroups, and play dates, and doctors appointments.  I just can’t create a consistent schedule for him.  A couple of days a week, he just has to nap in the car.  Those other days though, when we have the luxury of time, I was still struggling to get him to take a nap for longer than 20 minutes.  He’d wake up, be mad at me for not being there, then require me to get him to sleep again.  Or to take him downstairs, where he’d be miserable and demanding for the rest of the afternoon.

I’d be miserable too.  Because that time he should have been napping is the only time I get to write on my blog, or read other blogs, reply to emails, or catch-up on Facebook.  Oh, and I suppose there is housework to be done too, but I’m not a huge fan of doing that anyway.  Sadly, nobody in my household is.  I could see the naps getting shorter and shorter, and then just ending, like Pudding’s did.

One day last week I was particularly tired.  Pudding had been having bad nights, and her crying had woken him up too.  Everybody in the house was exhausted.  I decided I needed a nap too, and instead of going to his room, I took Cubby into my bed.  He was asleep within minutes, and I fell asleep not long after.  I woke up over an hour later, and Cubby was still asleep.  I crept downstairs, and he stayed there for a further 2 hours.  I got things done!  A lot of things done.  I marveled at how easy life must be as a stay at home mother to regular kids who take naps.

When he woke up, it was like a whole new child.  He was happy and smiley.  Instead of having to engage him in interactive pursuits, he was coming to me for play.  He is a pretty good (but atypical) talker for his age, but he was busting out new words.  It was incredible.  If only we could have this every day, was my wistful thought.  Spectrummy Daddy noticed the change too.  And here is another weird thing- he went to sleep just as easily as usual.  The extra time napping didn’t affect his night sleep at all.  I don’t mean to imply that with enough sleep our kids would be off the spectrum, but I do think that being sleep-deprived makes it way harder to cope in this world if you have sensory processing difficulties.  Just like how I find it harder to cope when I don’t have enough sleep.  It isn’t a pleasant luxury, it is absolutely essential to both children and their caregivers.

The next day we were back to Pudding on a half-day of school and driving to appointments.  We were also back to crabby Cubby.  When I was next able to put him down for a nap, I took him into our bed again.  Same thing- 2 hours this time.  I’m convinced that my scent on the sheets tricks him into thinking I’m still there with him.  Or it calms the part of the brain that is primed for flight or fight.  Smell is the only piece of the sensory puzzle we’ve never really tried with our kids, but I’m now convinced of its worth.  Over the course of this week, I’m going to let him nap in our bed whenever possible.  I’m also going to try to sleep with a blanket or pillowcase to make a mummy-scented item to keep in his bed.  And if that works, I’ll do it for Pudding too.  And if that works, well, perhaps I’ll have made sense of one of the things that has most puzzled and eluded me these past 2 years.  Expect eau de Spectrummy Mummy to be selling in all good retail stores this holiday season!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 4, 2010 at 7:13 am