Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘sound sensitivity

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

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

Sibling Rivalry

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I am so excited to write my first post about sibling rivalry!  Yes, we have it in our house!  Our atypical kids have the beginnings of an all too typical relationship, and it makes me happy.  You can’t give one something without giving it to the other.  And one always wants what the other has.  Isn’t that so….normal, for want of a better word?  To be jealous of someone, you need to be paying attention.  You need to acknowledge their existence.  You need to come out of your own world, and recognize that there are other people sharing your world with you.

In the beginning, Pudding was quite open to the idea of a baby brother, or so we thought.  It turns out when we would ask if she was happy, we were getting an echolaic response.  We took it for granted anyway.  As she got more and more anxious, it became pretty clear that baby screams are not pleasant to her ears.  I hardly blame her for tuning out more and more.  Babies, I’m the first to admit, are pretty rubbish.  They are takers, not givers, and that doesn’t sit well with a 2 year-old, or a 3 year-old for that matter.  You aren’t ever allowed to punish the baby for taking toys and parents away, which is just not fair.

Still, they do grow up.  They start to get interesting.  They can say your name, and they find you very funny  You can get in trouble together!  Suddenly mummy and daddy aren’t sure who smeared the toothpaste everywhere, or deliberately poured the soy milk on the carpet, or used markers on the sofa (all today, before 7am).  And in that uncertainty, lies the benefit of the doubt.  Kids with pragmatic speech delays are excellent at pleading the 5th.  Having a little brother is not so bad.

If only you didn’t have to share though.  Most toys are for sharing, only a couple of special ones, like Sleeping Beauty or Upsy-Daisy are just for Pudding.  The trouble is, Cubby just doesn’t get that.  He tried to take them all.the.time.  In fact, it seems like he only wants the things because he can’t have them.  His special interests are boy things like trains and trucks (try telling me this boy doesn’t have an ASD) not girl things like dolls and princesses.  Rubbish.

Elmo

Image via Wikipedia

Enter Elmo.  That cute, red muppet with pronoun problems.  Cubby likes him.  Of course he does, he is an American toddler living in America.  It is in his contract.  Deciding to capitalize on this, yesterday I purchased an inexpensive stuffed Elmo.  For some reason, Cubby also decided he needed a bucket to live in, not sure why, but I know better than to argue over a $1 pail in the middle of Target.  Pudding was initially disappointed with the new addition to the household.  He doesn’t sing, or move, or talk, like so many of the other toys here.  She told me it was broken and I should fix it.  Cubby was happy enough with him though, which was the whole point.  She can play with her Upsy-Daisy, and he can play with Elmo.  Simple.

I know, I know, nothing is ever simple- I’m a fool for thinking so!  Overnight, Elmo became a highly-prized treasure.  He is the most emotional being in this house (quite a feat when we are all feeling so highly-strung) and Pudding is verbalizing how happy/sad/sleepy/hungry Elmo is.  Can I say that again?  Pudding is verbalizing how happy/sad/sleepy/hungry Elmo is. Erm, yes, we’d like to encourage that.  So, we do the old switcharoo, and let her have Elmo, and Cubby took Upsy-Daisy (just Daisy to Cubby, they’re on good terms).  That wasn’t agreeable to Her Royal Highness though, and we quickly had to do a trade before blood was spilled.

I might (frequently) complain about how difficult it is to raise two only children as brother and sister, but for the way it forces them to grow and interact, it is worth it.  Feel free to remind me of this post by Monday, when I’ll have done an about-turn on this opinion.  But for now, I’ll take some sibling rivalry, though I’d rather not experience a Mexican stand-off at 6 am!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 1, 2010 at 7:28 am

Operation Desensitization

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I want to preface this post by saying that while Pudding has sound sensitivities, or auditory processing dysfunction, it appears to be less of a problem for her than for others on the spectrum. I don’t know why she is only mildly affected, and others have it much worse than she does.  I only know that it can sometimes interfere with our daily life, and that makes it a problem for us.  One more thing, the attached video contains noise that those with sound sensitivity will not appreciate!  Please lower your volume before you play.

The object that I habitually refer to as a “hoover” may be known to you as a vacuum cleaner if you hail from anywhere other than Britain.  In fact, ours is not the brand Hoover, don’t think I’m on commission here!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

A day in the life.

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Wake up, 4.45.  No Pudding, don’t be awake.  Go back to sleep, please go back to sleep.  I’m too tired. She comes into our room, gets into bed.  The day has begun. Don’t be snappy, rouse yourself, wake up! Daddy goes to work.  Cubby wakes up.  I take a shower.  Are they playing?  It is too quiet, what are they doing? They are playing together.  I get dressed, go downstairs taking the kids with me.  Today Pudding starts her trial back on rice.  I make Cream of Rice cereal.  She must be so excited, she has had the same couple of things for breakfast over and over these last few months. She doesn’t like it.  I add blueberries, vanilla, more honey.  She eats most of it.  Cubby loves it.  Get the kids washed and dressed.  Bus comes, Pudding leaves for school.

Clean up after breakfast.  Load dishwasher.  Play time with Cubby, but first must do laundry.  So much laundry, when did I last do it?  Two days ago, three?  Why is there always so much?  Oh no, no detergent! Grab Cubby and go to the store.  Outside is hot, and humid already.  85F reads the car’s temperature gauge.  I’m going to get bitten by mosquitoes. I should have put repellent on.  They love my exotic English blood and my suck-me skin. Do shopping, get detergent, time to check-out.  Cubby is missing a shoe.  He does this every time. 20 minutes later find shoe  Yes, it was under the trolley the whole time, why do you make me say it? We leave.  Temp up to 87F.  Good, we’ll be home in time for him to take a proper nap in his bed. Cubby falls asleep in the car, wakes up when we return home.

Make lunch for us both and eat.  No time to clean up.  Drive 25 minutes to school for Pudding.  91F.  Head straight to speech therapy session, driving another 25 minutes through ritziest neighbourhoods.  I want to live in a mansion like this.  I want to be stinking rich.  What do they do, these people, to get so rich? Arrive 20 minutes early.  Wait in car with a/c on.  Temperature gauge now reads 95F.  Cubby is asleep.  Try to entertain Pudding, but she just asks to get out the entire time.  Can’t get out without waking him up.  He needs his sleep, never gets a proper nap, my fault.  Oh, hello Guilt, my old friend, how are you?  Why must she keep asking to get out after I said no?  She doesn’t understand, so I have to be Understanding.  Be Patient.

Time to go in.  Leave her there and return to car.  Cubby wakes up.  It is hot, temperature gauge up to 97F.  Drive to get a drink.  Cubby enjoys being free of the car seat.  After 10 minutes, time to collect her.  He screams at being out back in the car, now 97F.  Guilt, Guilt, Guilt. Pudding has had a good session, lots of talking, great social interaction. Thank goodness, it makes this drive in the heat worth it.  She tries so hard, it must be hard after a morning at school.  Must be Empathetic, remember to be Patient. Get back in the car, 98F.

Driving on highway, Pudding speaks: “I want to go potty”.  Still 15 minutes from home, she can’t hold it.  Cubby whining.  Come off highway, drive to a strip mall.  “I want to go potty.  I want to go potty.” Over and over.  I know, I get it, I’m trying!  Why are there so few parking spaces?  This is America, everybody drives everywhere, make more parking spaces! Find parking space.  Enter fast food restaurant, head to bathroom.  There is a queue, 3 women in front of us.  There is a hand dryer.  The low-frequency sound drives Pudding insane.  Cubby is squirming to get down.

Pudding: I want to go potty, I want a hug.  Want mummy to hug.

Me: I know honey, I’m sorry- we have to wait, these ladies are in front of us.  Please, for the love of God, women, let us go in front of you.

Nobody lets us go in front.  Someone comes out, washes their hands, uses hand dryer.  Pudding squeals, women turn and look disapprovingly.

Me: I know sweetheart, that sound really hurts your ears, I know, I’m sorry. 

Can one of you please have a little empathy?  I know she looks like she is older than she is, like she should be able to hold it.  I know you don’t get that a hand dryer and flickering florescent lights drive her crazy.  You don’t have to get it, you don’t have to live it, just let us go ahead of you and my screaming kids will be out of your way.

We wait our turn.  The next two ladies use the hand dryer too.  A plague on both your houses.  No, be Understanding.  They can’t tell just by looking at her, I should be brave and tell them she has autism.  Yeah, well, I would if  I wasn’t trying to control a wailing girl, and a toddler hell-bent on touching every filthy surface in here.  Today isn’t about raising awareness, it is about just getting through an ordinary day.

We leave.  A big, black SUV is stalking our parking space.  I shake my head at the driver, he doesn’t move.  There is no way we’ll be out of here quickly dude, just move on. Put Cubby in first, he screams.    I don’t want to put you in either baby, I know.  Just lets get home, please. Black SUV still waiting.  Look at the Autism Awareness magnet.  Look at the exhausted mother with the two little kids, look and be Patient, and Understanding, I implore you. I try to soothe Cubby, while keeping a grip on Pudding’s hand lest she runs off.  Black SUV beeps his horn, Pudding screams and falls to the ground.  She was already on the brink, but the too loud noise from the too close car sends her over.  She is shaking, her heart pounding.  I want to hit you.  I want to hurt you like you just hurt my baby.  I want to smash the windows on your car.  I want to scream and swear, and I can’t make a sound apart from to comfort her, anything else would just make it worse. Cubby is crying, Pudding is crying.  I pull her into the front seat and rock her.  I’m going to sit here as long as it takes, this car isn’t going anywhere.  Black SUV rolls down his window to yell ‘Bitch’ at me before driving off.  Pudding calms down.  I put her in the car and we drive home.  Temperature gauge hits 100F.  I’m done.

I can’t change Pudding.  She has a neurological difference that can’t be altered.  I wouldn’t change her if I could, I’d just make this world easier on her.  I need other people to change instead.  I need the women in the bathroom to change, I need the man in the black SUV to change.  I need them to be Patient and Understanding and Empathetic.  I don’t need you to feel Guilt, I’ve got that covered. You’re here, you’re doing your bit.  But can you just tell those people for me?  Because I’m done, for today.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

August 11, 2010 at 1:00 am