I've just joined the forum and wanted to say hi and let you know a bit about me.
I'm Sean, 38 from near Bournemouth - big football fan and enjoy playing on my PlayStation. I’ve yet to really grow up!
more important than any of this though is my daughter. She’s 4, starting school in September and was diagnosed autistic about 6-9 months ago. She really is our ray of sunshine. Very funny little girl, has the best laugh and is very much a daddy’s girl. Particularly when she wants something! She has speech delay and while we couldn’t count her words, she does lack conversational skills. One of the biggest issues we have is worrying about her safety as she doesn’t listen or take commands very well unless there’s something to pull her concentration in that she’s interested in or something like a sweet as a reward. We’re currently on holiday with friends who have two girls who have no issues and this has really highlighted our little girls issues. The hotel were in is extremely family friendly and very much geared towards younger kids, but it’s busy, quite loud and there’s always something going on. This is just too much for her so she has found a routine of running to a spot, playing a game, running back to the table having dropped her hat at the same point. This will go on for as long as she can have it. Whilst I’m happy she’s happy, it would be amazing to be able to sit as a family and enjoy the entertainment. But that’s not the life we lead right now!
She’s due to start school in September and we’re very worried about her starting. She doesn’t sit if she doesn’t want to, meal times are completely at her pace and timing (no matter what we do, very hit and miss) and she does like to hit if children get into her space and she can’t get away.
She’s come a long way to be fair, but she does leap then fall back before leaping forward again which is a mixture of very tough and very rewarding.
SeanG said:One of the biggest issues we have is worrying about her safety as she doesn’t listen or take commands very well unless there’s something to pull her concentration in that she’s interested in or something like a sweet as a reward.
I am dyspraxic with add symptoms, as well as what I suspect is autism. I had and still have problems with following instructions and keeping still - for the most part, as I experience hyperfocus and fixation when obsessed about a topic.
When I was at that age, just starting preschool, I remember being very active and stuck in 'play mode' as all children naturally are. I too also had speech delays and also a hearing problem and had gromets put in, as I had constant earache.
Children need to engage in games that are meaningful and have a defined goal in mind, this is in order for them to learn how to focus their attention. Try to find games she can play that produce this effect. If they are sufficiently challenged (stimulated), they will exhaust their energy and should then calm down, which would be the time where you decide to watch some entertainment etc.
When my parents would take me out, this is how they would do it: Allow me to exhaust myself, and then when I calm down they will judge how I am by saying: "Are you tired now? Are you hungry? Let's go have something to eat?", that prompting and dialogue is something you should get a habit of doing - it's a way for your daughter to understand that at some point she will exhaust herself, which is when it's time to calm down and focus on a shared activity. -- This is why in preschool they allow the children to play and then they have sleep/story time. If you are worried about her being in school, ask about whether they employ these calming/focusing activities - I suspect it's now common practice.
Note: If she is continually stimulated and doesn't seem to want to stop, it could be that they have deficits in reading facial expressions and emotion. Infants learn to be very empathetic to the mothers needs, this remains throughout the childs life. If the mother is present, she should use empathy as a way to calm her down and realign her attention - for instance: "Mommy wants to do this.. Will you do that for me?" "Mommy is hungry. Let's go eat" etc.
Welcome to the forum, it is totally normal to worry about your daughter starting school, I was terrified when my eldest daughter did, she is still awaiting assessment so was concerned her quirks would be seen as naughty. But school were fantastic. We did have a few incidents at lunchtime when she wouldn't eat the veg and some staff members tried to tell her she had to but luckily her nan was a key stage one lunch supervisor so very quickly calmed her and reported the staff!
I had a meeting with the school senco before she started highlighting the things my daughter struggles with and thus was made clear to teachers. Although as it turned out she literally behaves perfectly in school and let's it out at home! School are making adjustments and this is improving. We are limited as she doesn't have formal diagnosis yet she is 8 now and achieving really well at school. Her speech was delayed at the time she started school but hers was that she didn't want to hold a conversation she just gave one word answers! This improved when she started imitating the teachers.
A visual timetable can help get her used to the structure of school, and most reception classes use a form of this anyway for all the children so it would be something that she can relate to.
Since she has been assessed, have you had meeting with the school senco and set up her ehcp? School can make so many adjustments to help her but you may have to argue to get them!
Wow, the food issue! One we’re battling with at the minute as well. My little girl will way her fill as long as it’s stuff she’s decided is ok to eat. Mainly carbs! She does love fruit though so that’s one thing. I’ll be making sure the school are aware of her eating habits. We’re quite lucky down here as the provision for asd children is actually pretty good. A neighbour who’s little boy has speech delay and some behavioural issues has spoken very highly of the school so that’s positive.
we have yet to meet with the SenCo formally but have been in touch via email and had a nice chat when the school had their open evening. Our nursery (who were quite underprepared for our little girl but have worked wonders to help her out) have also been liaising with the school and we will have meetings soon. We’re in the process of applying for the EHCP but the regional SenCo who comes into nursery has said she doesn’t need one. I’m surprised this is the case as she very much struggled in busy environments and really does need extra support. With this in mind we’re plotting on on our own as it were!
Good luck in getting your diagnosis - we knew what the outcome would be before we got it so it wasn’t too hard to hear. Getting the diagnosis has really opened the door for some additional support for us and her. We’re currently going through a course called EarlyBird which is helping us to understand autism and how this can effect our little girl. Very eye opening but the most helpful thing is talking to the other parents who are going through the same (but very different at the same time) thing as us. Some of the tricks we’ve learnt have been invaluable.
thanks for your reply. My little girl actually is quite empathetic - she will often tell us she’s happy or sad and will pick up on our moods as well. I’ve never though of using this to help her understand how her actions can impact others and give her more of an understanding of the broader world, good shout!