Tag Archives: MissG

An interview (sort of) with MissG, an Autistic 7 year old… #AutismPositivity2015

By Michelle Sutton

Do you think it is important to look after yourself?  
Yes

Why?
I’m not answering

Can you tell me some ways you look after yourself? 
Ugh…. I’m not answering your questions. 

Are you feeling stressed right now? 
mmm hmmm

So, is not answering my questions a way of looking after yourself because you feel stressed?
mmmmmm

Is it ok if I just write down some things I know you do to look after yourself, and put that in the blog?
yeah

For the record, MissG had agreed to answer some questions for this article when I asked her yesterday, but when it came to doing it today didn’t want to. She is a bit out of sorts lately, we’ve had a really busy schedule for a few weeks, she is tired, overwhelmed and stressed.  I’m glad she agreed to let me share some things about how she looks after herself, though, because it is something we focus on a lot in our house and she has some great strategies! Everything I have written below I have her permission to share.

#AutismPositivity2015
Caring for herself by not talking

MissG does speak to communicate. Most of the time. Sometimes she refuses, as you saw above. She is learning to recognise when conversation, and the associated mental processing energy, is too much for her. Unless it is an issue of safety for some reason, we do not discourage her from retreating. As she gets older we will explore whether typing to communicate when speech is difficult is an alternative for her. Right now she finds writing very difficult, so sometimes we use the feelings book she made herself.#AutismPositivity2015
Caring for herself by stimming

MissG stims by licking her lips and the skin around her mouth when she is stressed. We have never discouraged her. Sometimes however her stimming can cause damage to her skin, so we have talked about looking after her skin. MissG initially chose to do that by applying a soothing barrier cream to her skin when it felt sore. More recently she expressed a desire not to lick all the time because people had started to comment on her skin looking dry and red. She had her own suggestion for a replacement behaviour. She said,”When I don’t lick I feel bitey. I know I can’t bite other people, so I can bite my finger. But that can hurt, so can you get me some gum to chew?” And a few days later, on the way to the hair dresser, “Can we get some mints? I will need to sit still, but it will be hard because she will touch my head. Some mints will help me feel better.” Gum and mints are now always in my bag, along with the cream she uses. MissG still stims by licking, but now there are alternatives that  she has chosen when she wants to use them.

#AutismPositivity2015
Caring for herself by getting help with sleeping

MissG does not sleep well. She has a lot of trouble getting to sleep and usually wakes at least twice a night. Not sleeping well adds to stress. When I asked the Paediatrician about this, he called it “Sleep Initiation Disorder” (meh!) and said some Melatonin might help. MissG’s sleep disturbances are only really a problem when external things impose their routines on her, for example when she needs to be at swimming lessons earlier in the morning than she would usually wake, or if we have an appointment to keep, but because she is homeschooled she can usually keep her own sleep schedule. I have noticed though that after a few months of going to sleep “late” and waking “late” that MissG begins to feel stressed and overwhelmed more frequently. So, we have talked about it, and come up with a system that works well for her. Usually MissG chooses when to take Melatonin to help initiate sleep. She will usually choose to take it 2 or 3 nights a week. If she or I notice that she is going to sleep very late regularly, or if she is experiencing overwhelm more often than usual and we can’t see any other obvious reason for it, she will take Melatonin every night for a 2 to 3 month period to help her body reset its circadian rhythms. Generally about 2 weeks into this period of nightly use both she and I can see she is feeling better overall. After about 6 weeks I notice MissG begins to tell me she doesn’t want to take it anymore, because she feels she sleeps differently with the Melatonin and once she is not overtired all the time that feeling is not nice, so we negotiate how much longer she needs it to complete the reset period. She is never forced to take it.

#AutismPositivity2015
Caring for herself by being in control of decisions about her body.

This is the key. I hope you noticed it in all the above points.

“she refuses” “we do not discourage” “her own suggestion” “alternatives that  she has chosen” “come up with a system that works well for her” “is never forced”

MissG’s body is hers and hers alone. She makes the choices about her self care. She is in control. So, while this blog post has not turned out anywhere near the way I had planned, I am not concerned at all. My role as a parent is to present options for her consideration when her 7 years do not give her the experience to know what all the possibilities are. My role is not to impose my desires on her. I guide, I recommend, I support, but I do not choose. This is so important in helping MissG become her own best advocate.

Having control over the choices made in the care of her own body is the most important thing for MissG to become confident in as she grows up. She will be a disabled adult, and my advocating for acceptance, love and self-care, with her right to be in control and make her own choices, is one of the most powerful gifts I can give her.

image: An expanse of grass with large leafed plants in the background at the top of the image. In the top right corner is a fair skinned child wearing black pants and a dark pink shirt, who is running toward the camera and flapping their hands. In the top left corner are the words “fb / amazing adventures autism”. At the bottom of the image are the words “She will be a disabled adult, and my advocating for acceptance, love and self-care, with her right to be in control and make her own choices, is one of the most powerful gifts I can give her.  Michelle Sutton”

Original post: http://amazingadventuresautism.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/amazing-adventures-acceptance-love-and.html

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Filed under Acceptance Love and Self-care, Autism Positivity 2015, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Flash Blog Posts, Uncategorized

A letter to MissG #AutismPositivity2014

By Michelle Sutton

A letter to MissG

When you were a baby we paid close attention to learn your cries. We came to recognise when you were hungry, when you were tired, and when you were overwhelmed by your surroundings. We didn’t need to hear words from you. Your cries spoke to us and we listened. We did our best to meet your needs, even though you couldn’t speak them to us.

When you were a toddler and you would fall over or find yourself hurt, you didn’t want me to touch you. I longed to give you a hug, to rub your back, but you would push me away. You were teaching me that I can show my support and love without touch. All you needed from me was to be present and wait for you to be ready for my touch. And when you were ready, the snuggles were priceless.

When you started to want to play with others but things didn’t go well you would scream out. It was hard for your brothers and sisters to listen to those shrill screams sometimes. Your dad and I tried to help everyone understand that you couldn’t find words when you were stressed. We tried to help you by giving you phrases like “stop, I don’t like it”. Slowly, you found your voice, and we were so careful to listen when you used those precious words. If you said stop we stopped, even if we couldn’t tell quite what the problem was, because you were telling us with the only words you had that something did not feel right. You taught us your need for control over what happened to your body and how important it was for us to respect that.

When you are frustrated and overwhelmed you can’t speak to me to explain why. It can be so hard to see your pain and not know how to help. But you taught me that compassion does not always rely on knowing the specifics of a situation. All you need from me is that I be present with you and wait until you are ready to explain.

Now you have started to be able to draw me pictures of what troubles you. I love those pictures. They are as much your voice as spoken words are. They tell me you want me to know, that you value my support, and that you believe I can help.

As you get older, I wonder if you will begin to type to me as your big brother does when he has lost his words, but I know it doesn’t matter whether you do or not. You will still always let me know what you need in your own way. And I will always be listening.

#AutismPositivity2014Flashblog

 

Read Michelle’s original post here on Amazing Adventures: http://amazingadventuresautism.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/amazing-adventures-autism-expressions.html

 

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Filed under Autism Positivity 2014, Autism Positivity Flash Blog, Expressions of PosAutivity