Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Importance of Understanding

I got a full nights sleep!!!  Its amazing how much better and brighter the day is when you get a straight eight hours sleep with no interruptions, no little feet dancing in the bed, no elbows or extra limbs (you know our kiddies grow an extra set of legs and arms when the lights go out... well it feels that way when you are getting the autie or aspie version of Riverdance on your back or head during the wee hours!)

I had become increasingly frustrated lately as every time Munchkin slept in her dads house, he would report that she had no problems sleeping and made me question even more my own parenting skills.  I wondered it if was the double bed she gets to sleep in that helped her settle well there. Or the fact that he marches her up mountains and they are constantly on the go when she's there so was tired out.  I racked my brains and though that if I did the same, she may sleep here.  I dragged her to the beach, the forest, marathon trampoline sessions or if it rained, the bed in the spare room had its strength seriously tested.  But no, like every other night, she resisted sleep til gone midnight.  Things marginally improved after I was given a prescription for Melatonin from the paediatrician during her review and I could get her to bed 9.30ish each night but she never stayed asleep.

It was only after her recent OT assessment that it was explained to me that Munchkin wasn't actually kicking me or hitting me but sensory seeking by pressing her feet and limbs up against me.  Its very common with kids with proprioceptive problems.  She constantly seeks input to gauge her position by pressing up against me over and over during the night. Once I knew why she did this, it actually didn't bother me as much anymore.  Its amazing what a dash of understanding can add to the mix!  She used to only sleep as a baby if my arm was across her chest (not my hand, just my forearm) and the OT recommended that I use a weighted blanket in the report I received the other day.  It was only then that things fell into place regarding her sleeping pattern at her dads.  While explaining the report to him, he informed me that he uses two duvets and a blanket at his house as he didn't want her to be cold and he couldn't afford to use the heating.  She was getting the equivalent of a weighted blanket while there!  With this new information, I set to work that night.  I got a heavier duvet and stuffed it into her single cover. I put a bed rail up, as the OT explained that even though she doesn't fall out of bed, she would be subconsciously checking her proximity to the edge.  I put her to bed and waited for the magic to happen....

3am and there is screeching at the stairgate in her room... I go to the room to see that she has stripped off earlier in the night as dirtied her nappy and got back into bed.  She's then wet the bed so that was the end of that attempt!  I had thought we'd got past the stripping off in bed stage but will have to break out the Houdini suits again.

Last night we tried again.  On of the facebook mums suggested a duvet under her also so I set up the bed.  One duvet under her, a feather and down pillow and a doubled up duvet on top of her. She's in her Houdini suit so we're good to go.  4 mg Melatonin and some milk and lets see what happened.  I sneaked back up ten minutes later to check on her and.......

She may be holding onto the wall and rail but she looks so snug in her cocoon!  And yes, amazingly, she stayed there all night :D   I have fingers, toes and eyes crossed that it continues to work as I feel like a different person today.  If not, I may have to reconsider the duct tape and staples solution... (relax, I'm only joking so take your finger off the speed dial to the social workers hehe)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Look, I DO fit in :)

A few days ago, myself and the tutor lauged so much as Munchkin squeezed herself into a canvas shopping bag.  It never ceases to amaze me where she'll manage to make herself fit.  From a very early age, she would climb into strange places.  You would find her sitting in a toybox or drawer looking at her toys rather than take them out to play.

When we visited a friends house, she would open the dresser and pull out all the contents from the bottom shelf and then slide into the press and happily lie there for a while while I had a coffee.  My friend kindly removed all breakables from this dresser as it became a weekly event!  In my mothers house, there is a press in the kitchen which she likes to sit in with the doors closed over at times.

I never paid much heed to this little quirk of hers until talking to the Occupational Therapist.  It seems that she gets some needs met on a sensory level by doing this.  A lot of children on the autism spectrum have proprioceptive difficulties.  Hammie described this in a post on the IAA blog here as "The sense of knowing where you are in relation to the Earth" and gives a very simple example of if we close our eyes, we can still touch our nose with our finger.  I still remember seeing Munchkin tryin to eat chips with her eyes shut one day and more that a few nearly went up a nostril!

As part of her OT program, I do deep pressure and massage with her.  One of her favourite things is to be rolled up in the duvet and squashed.  She loves lying on a beanbag and being squashed with the other beanbag.  She loves the pressure that is exerted on her little body and recently squeezed herself into a pillowcase so that her big sister could swing her gently while in her "cocoon".  As she gets bigger we'll have to either get a body sock or a single duvet cover at the very least!

I find that she has difficulty realising what size she is in relation to items also and will get quite frustrated at times that she can't fit into the toy car/bed/box she's playing with.  As small as she is, there are certain limitations as to what she can actually fit into!  It doesn't stop her trying however hehe...

I'll leave you with one of my favoure photos I took when I found that she had emptied the toys out of her shelving unit to use as a ladder to climb into and have some chill out time....

*edited to add video under strict instructions of the Queen of  Blog, Hammie!

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