Massage and sleep

Does massage encourage sleep?

We were those parents who struggled nightly with trying to get our daughter to sleep. Facing the tantrums, the tears, the heart wrenching sobbing and the ear splitting screams. We faced the ever depresssing ebb and flow of emotions from anger to frustration to just total exhaustion. 

Bedtime hygiene……

As a parent I submitted to the specialists and did everything that they told me to do….religiously 

  • No computers, TV, games console, phone, or any other electronic device
  • Black out blinds
  • No night lights 
  • Same bedtime hour
  • Soothing baths, bedtime strories, classical music, snacks, drinks 
  • Medication


I went on sleep courses where I felt like a failure as the rules never seemed to apply to my daughter. It became frustrating and to be honest I stopped going as nothing was making any difference. Our daughter was stressed out and so was I. 

Next step…

Late one night while my daughter was still trying to go to sleep I was googling for help and advice. Firstly what strikes me is that a lot of the research and information available is based on studies in America. While speaking to parents over the years sleep problems are a significant issue here in Britain so why are the specialists here not better able to help us. Why are we given medication and told to get on with it? Why are we told to attend courses to teach us what we are already doing? When will doctors accept that for some children sleep is a real medical issue and not parents making up symptoms in the hopes of a quick cure to make our lives better??

While researching one sleep deprived, weary night I came across mentions of massage. This is something that I had never considered before but having come out the other side of relationship problems, feeling insecure but determined with the thought of doing something for myself appealing I booked onto an Indian Head massage course. 

My Nephew enjoying 5 minutes of massage

The course took 3 months to complete and with my daughters permission I used her as a case study. Well wow from the very first massage move my daughter was a little less tense, a little less stressed and that night along with her medication she went to bed and actually slept. Well like you I thought it was a fluke but as the course progressed and my skills became more fluent and skilled we noticed a big diffrence in bedtimes. 

Don’t get me wrong massage is not a cure, sometimes it will work but others it won’t. The biggest thing for me is that it encourages the bond between me and my daughter. It’s time that we can spend together, relaxing. Massage also helps to relax me which in turn has a positive effect on my daughter. You see if I am angry and stressed she bounces off that, once I calm down I have noticed she does too. 

How can I use massage at home….


Massage does not mean that you have to go and train. A massage could be a back rub, twirling hair at bedtime, it’s about positive touch. For those who would like a bit more structure then I recommend story massage. You can learn 10 simple massage moves that you can use with any song, story, rhyme and can be used anytime anywhere not just at bedtime. We use storey massage all the time from camping to the doctors. Massage can help reduce tension and stress, can help to calm and refocus and with the story massage you can have fun with your children creating massage stories and….

Best of all mums and dads your children can share a massage with you!!!

If you would like to find out more or just wants chat please do contact me

Xx Leanne xx

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Story Massage…..Imagination, Fun for All

Story Massage…… a wonderful massage therapy based activity that can be shared by the whole family. Wether we are singing songs, nursery rhymes or just telling stories for the last two years Story massage has given my children so much joy for the spoken language as well as becoming the staple relaxation method used in our house.

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Story massage was created by its founders Mary Atkinson and Sandra Hooper since 2007 to promote activities using positive touch within the home, school and wider field. These two amazing ladies run a training course which is where I first learnt how to blend 10 simple massage moves with stories. Story massage is used within some schools curriculum, care homes, respite, therapy session’s and by parents all over the world. Being such an adaptive skill set to have it can be used in any language and is especially wonderful to use with special needs and disabilities.

  •  Two daughters who have a mild sensorineural hearing loss and as such the positive touch used in story massage and the contact means that they are able to hear and feel the story.
  • Another of my other daughters has a hearing loss and ADHD and I find that the end of the day s a great way of using story massage to wind down and aide with calming ready for sleep.
  • I also have a daughter with no hearing impairments or disabilities who is just a teenager and she loves to make up stories and show her skill’s.

There is no age limit, no discrimination just respect, relaxation and fun. A great activity that can be shared by all.

For me story massage has enable my children to not only learn to positively interact with each other but to also aide their speech and language skills, phonic’s, writing and story telling skills, their concentration,  the ability to relax and focus, being able to learn about the environment around them and it is a skill that they will go on to use with their own children one day in the very distant future…..

I also find story massage is great to use as a rainy day activity, while waiting in queues, car journeys, talking about new and exciting subjects and at bedtime there is nothing like settling down to bed with a soothing massage to my off key tones of Lavenders blue, twinkle twinkle and other favourites.

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With stories in mind there are some days when my daughter is a little more restless than usual and needs idea’s for a new and interesting story. We have the wonderful book from storymassage.co.uk which has nursery rhymes and stories with something for everyone and the massage moves are there for you which is a fantastic book to take out and about with you. Our’s travelled to Scotland last year where we enjoyed story massage camping style.

So always on the look out for innovative idea’s that I can use I was approached by a wonderful lady at Ignite Imagination’s . This lovely lady create’s wooden story cubes. I was sent a lovely bundle of 6 cubes, hand decorated with a picture on all 6 sides. Well my daughters love them!!!

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  • they came in a handy drawstring bag
  • 3cm cubed perfect for slipping in your handbag and don’t take up to much room
  • you are able to choose which themed cubes you would like
  • they are colourful and robust
  • provide endless material for fun stories

We have fairy tale characters, clothes, food and then three cubes with various object’s on them such as a ballon, car, shield, chair.

When I took them out of the bag my daughters aged 7 and 10 were there within minutes finding pen and paper, rolling the cubes and coming up with lovely stories to share. Here’s a story they made up using the cubes….

A unicorn imagined an egg (circle)

But she magicked a fried egg instead (drums)

Then she magicked some trouser’s and top (wave)

And decided to go pick some flowers ( sprinkle)

When it got dark, she magicked a light (fan)

And sat down to eat her egg ( calm)

Eliza Age 7

Using story massage as a daytime activity with the cubes has been great fun and something that I hope to share with other parent’s and children when sharing Story massage with them.

Leanne

ADD Our way…..Holistic Therapies can They Help?

When it comes to therapies in my mind the best ones are the Holistic ones. In situations where your child’s disability is not deemed significant enough for therapies through the health care system or if alternative treatment options are not offered or available Holistic massage is an avenue I would recommend. Massage is a fabulous therapy suitable for nearly all. Massage therapies are about healing the body and the mind using positive touch to receive tension and relax allowing the body to heal itself.

They have not only helped my children in ways explained below but they have also given me a purpose, something to concentrate on and a way to contribute to other parents and children living with disabilities.

As a parent trying to do the best for my children is always at the top of my list. I am their protector, their teacher as well as their mother. For me having disabled children has had a profound effect on who I have grown to become. Before the disabilities I worked full time, I then had children and went back to work part time. Work fitted around children until it came to the point where work no longer fitted around the myriad of hospital appointments. After finding Holistic therapies I decided to train in Holistic Massage with the main purpose being to aide mine and other children and their families .

As a parent I had never really considered the benefits of massage before, I used to have reflexology on my feet whilst pregnant but that was as far as my knowledge went although I was always intrigued as to how a therapist could tell I had a bad back from my feet and I always found it relaxing and felt better in myself afterwards. Massage has long been documented as having a profound positive effect on the mind and body as far back as 3000 years especially in the East.

Leanne Brown

So when I felt lost in a world of confusion and loneliness I began researching how best to help my child diagnosed with ADD while trying to understand what the diagnosis meant for my daughter. One answer that kept coming back was Holistic therapies and how the benefits of massage could really help with some of the symptoms. As a parent and a Therapist I have found the main benefits of Holistic and Indian head massage for a child with ADD are:

  • calming, aides deeper relaxed breathing
  • relaxes stiff, tired, tense muscles
  • aides concentration
  • aides sleep
  • aides circulation

There are lots more benefits for massage but for a child with ADD these are the most important benefits that they can receive from Holistic massage. My daughter has had regular holistic massage now for two years and while it is by no means a cure it has helped her considerably in times where nothing else has worked. Massage relaxes and calm’s which when you are on the go all the time and your mind struggles to switch off can be a god send. By relaxing and being able to settle her mind my daughter finds that her concentration unmedicated can improve as well as her overall wellbeing. I have found that my daughter can hold a lot of tension in her shoulders which leads to back and neck pain and headaches. Since having regular massage these symptoms have almost disappeared. Don’t get me wrong there are some days where massage just does not work or it can take an hour just to get her to sit still long enough but once she does the benefits far outweigh the negatives. My daughter is never forced to have a massage it is her choice and one that even as a parent I ask her permission. As a therapist I am client led which means I follow their lead.

 Massage should never been seen as something to be forced into but as a choice that the child can make for themselves. This chance to make a choice themselves empowers them and can lead to increased confidence. 


Another great therapy that we have found works well is Story Massage. This is where we put 10 easy and simple massage moves to her favourite songs and stories and the effects are positively fab!!! This type of Massage therapy is one the whole family can get involved with and can have a positive effect on family relationships especially the relationship between siblings which can be charged and strained at best. It gets the whole family having fun while using positive touch to bond. Something which can be difficult in todays society. Story massage also gives my daughter a voice, a way to channel her feelings and it enables her to tell me stories she has made up or how she is feeling as she is talking while giving me a massage……yes mums can have a story massage too!!!!

Find out more about our journey at http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

x Leanne x

 

Learning to adapt and play

Play….such a simple, non threatening little four letter word but for me it can be like a volcano that’s waiting to erupt. As any parent of a child with ADD / ADHD knows finding an activity or toy that can provide even 10 minutes of concentration is like liquid gold. Concentration problems, memory issues, frustration, lack of understanding, impulsiveness can all case problems when it comes to play


Play is how our children learn and make sense of the world around them. From dolls and cars, games and building blocks, toys and games allow our children’s imaginations to run wild and learn. This is no different for a child with ADD. As a mum I am always on the look out for inexpensive fun and creative ideas of play. This has become harder the older my other children have gotten but it’s simple for my ADD daughter. Why, because it has taken me 5 years to work out her triggers, what amuses her (talking toys), what irritates her (board games) and what play activities are best to just completely avoid. 

There is no manual or written guide about this, it’s down to us as parents to discover unique and inspirational ways of entertaining our children. But with Christmas just round the corner maybe some idea’s here can help…….

  •  Play to your child’s strengths – for us this is our daughters artist side I always make sure to have on hand pens and paper, encourage their interests as this will give them much needed confidence.
  • Story massage – for us story massage is a family affair. The children can write their own stories and then massage each other using 10 simple moves. Story massage is an activity the whole family can get involved with and it can promote relaxation, imagination and confidence. (See previous blog for more info)
  • Try to avoid games and activities that you know can cause a negative reaction- for us this is board games, I got so fed up of them being thrown around the room I stopped buying them. Plus games that require more than 1 player can cause frustration, irritation, arguments, upset
  • Lego – Buy the bigger duplo sets – you may be told they are big and babyish but once the Lego has been played with and it’s time to put away, or if something happens and the legos gets thrown around the room….then the duplo is easier to find and clear up reducing your stress and frustration in having to find tiny bricks.
  • Outside – even in cold weather my daughter loves to be outside. This also allows her to let of steam so to speak as long as she is wrapped up warm she is outside discovering what a change in season does to the outside world around her and it gives you a 5 minute break so have a cuppa tea and breathe. 
  • Sensory toys – there is now a huge push for toys for disabled children which is great but when your child has an unseen disability this is hard. I have found that the cheap and inexpensive fiddle toys are invaluable. Stress balls (you can make your own) stretchy men anything that’s small (watch out for small parts) can entertain and keep little fingers busy.
  • Interactive toys – some of these last longer than others but I find with our daughter that if she can interact with a toy she is entertained for longer. Some toys now you can record messages on them which is great as kids respond to love and praise.
  • Wooden games/toys – the traditional wooden games and toys are more robust I feel for a child which may throw or have a habit of breaking. Food items for a shop, Wooden games such as Jenga can all withstand most things. 
  • Books – this was another hard one for me, to long and frustration would creep in and to boring I would get told to shut up 😡 pick books which your child is intrested in as it may hold their attention a little longer and do the funny voices….it keeps them entertain and allows a little longer before boredom creeps in. 
  • Allow for breakages – accidents wether intentional or not are going to happen. Yes it’s frustrating and yes you will feel angry and learning to accept this part is the hardest but working out a suitable punishment is key. I refuse to buy another once it’s gone it’s gone and while I still get shouted at my daughter knows this. 

For those who love to think outside the box diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com has some great ideas that you can adapt for children with special needs and disabilities. We have adapted most of the ideas here and used them with an 10, 11, and 12 years olds with great effect. 

For us story massage, teddies and dolls bring the best play experiences. I have found that for toys my daughter is better fixed and focused on what she likes compared to her siblings. She can become almost obsessed by them though which can cause issues if it gets broken or goes missing. At the end of the day every child is different and are all into different things. My four are no different in this. 


Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment or follow my blog http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

 Take care all 

X Leanne x

Story, massage And us

I have spoken often in my blogs about Story massage and Indian head massage. Why? Because as a parent I firmly believe that these two therapies bring a host of advantages to our family life. Living with a child with Hearing loss, ADD and Anxiety can bring a lot of stress and frustration into our family and especially into my daughters daily life.

  • Behavioural problems
  • sleeplessness
  • impulsiveness
  • language and communication
  • unable to cope with emotions
  • unable to cope with routines
  • forgetfulness


I have found that massage can have a positive effect on all of these. Its not just my view point either there are so many articles on the use of massage with disabilities and special needs its a wonder that massage is not more widely available and obtainable by parents. Massage for us has been a life line, a way for all of our children to relax, de-stress and benefit from the healing power of massage as well. Its not just the disabled child that could benefit but sibling’s, parent’s, wider family member’s.

Have you ever been for a massage? For many of us through time and money restraints massage may not be possible, it was only ever a luxury I had had a few times since having children. You don’t need to go out and spend money though even just sitting with your children giving them a cuddle, playing with their hair can be just as relaxing. We bond through touch, we communicate and we reassurance with touch and we can soothe and relax through touch. I initially trained in Indian head massage as a way to help my own children. From there it has grown into a passion due to the benefits I have seen within my own family and its these benefits I hope to pass onto other children and parent’s.

Massage can….

  • Relax the body which reduces tension and stress
  • reduces anxiety
  • Soothes and comforts
  • Increases energy
  • aides concentration, respect, self awareness, relaxes the mind
  • reduce tiredness, soothe aching muscles

Last year while doing more research into massage I found a wonderful and interesting massage therapy called http://www.Story massage.co.uk 

This massage skill is an amazing activity to add to your family life. Story massage is simply 10 massage moves which you use against the backdrop of any nursery rhyme, story, poem, song. The list is endless and I have hours of fun making up my own stories for my children to enjoy. The best thing about story massage is that it is a skill the whole family can learn and enjoy together and it can last 5 minutes or 20 minutes.


As a mother I have found massage to

  •  aide Anxiety which is common in ADD/ADHD suffers
  •  aide relaxation for better sleep
  • reduce tension built up through Ticks and stress
  •  aide concentration and general self esteem
  •  aide those with Hyperactivity by helping the body and mind to calm and relax

The beauty of story massage is that you can tailor the story or song to your own child’s particular needs. We have stories about holidays, how important it is to eat, stories with my children’s names in them and stories about their individual disabilities. The best thing is there is no right and wrong and you can do it anywhere and anytime

  • bedtime
  • car journeys
  • on holiday
  • in a queue
  • at the doctors
  • mealtimes
  • when the routine changes
  • when there is quarrelling and boredom
  • rainy days

The list really is endless. Children as young as two can enjoy the stories and I have had a group of teenagers making up stories and then giving each other a massage 🙂 and one of my eldest wrote me a story massage for mothers day
My Super Mum by Charlotte, aged 11

My mum is like Super Mum, (The Circle)
always there when I need her. (The Circle)
She appears like a ninja all ready to help, (The Upwards Fan)
and swoops into save me when I’m feeling lost. (The Downwards Fan)

My mum is a Super Mum, a Super Mum she is (The Circle)
She sorts out my problems and listens to me (The Calm)
She shows me she cares, she makes me so happy (The Squeeze)
I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. (The Squeeze)

But sometimes I am naughty (The Drum)
Super Mum can shout – very loud (The Drum)
She tells me to be good, to be kind. (The Calm)
I want to grow up to be just like my Super Mum (The Circle)

My Super Mum brings magic and excitement (the Bounce)
I know how much she cares, she shows me everyday (The Circle)
So I wrote this for you, Mum (The Circle)
To show you how much I care. (The Calm)


As a therapist I do offer sessions in Story massage where you can learn the moves and share story massage with your children. Recently I won the Best Practise Award from Story massage and I feel immensely fortunate in being able to share these skills with other parents.

What ever you do tonight give your child a hug and share with them the power of positive touch

x leanne x

http://www.marshamholistictherapy.co.uk

Its not fair….Siblings and ADD

There are some days when I feel at my worst and I don’t understand why my daughter has ADD, or why she suffers with anxiety or even why my children were born with a hearing loss so how can I expect my other children to understand?

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I have talked previously about the often turbulent and volatile relationship between siblings when one has ADD but after a week now of daily tip tapping, swearing and screaming I feel like I am at my wits end. My ADD daughter is the third of four children. All girls!! I will not say it’s an easy task raising girls but I try to do my best. What I mostly struggle with is the relationship my daughter has with her sisters. Some days I blame myself and find it hard to come to terms with the idea that my children have difficulties and other days I manage to brush myself down and get on with parenting but my other daughters find it hard to process their sisters behaviour and they can not understand why (L) is the way she is.

  • I make excuses like she can’t help it
  • I try and ignore the behaviour which mostly just fuels further arguments with my eldest daughters
  • I find myself shouting and screaming at the wrong child
  • I blame all bad behaviour on her disability when sometimes it isn’t
  • I cry and get angry which then upsets all my children

It’s on these darker days that the behaviour and symptoms of ADD become more apparent especially before the medication starts to work. For two hours before school there is arguing,shouting, screaming, objects flying and general put your hands over your ears din. Some mornings I do not even want to get out of bed. With three children trying to get ready for school and one who is being disruptive, its mayhem and can resemble a battle field…..Yes girls can fight like cats and dogs and its not a pretty sight!!!

I feel so emotionally shattered by the time my children walk into school other parents must wonder what a miserable women I am! 

The older the kids get, the harder it’s becoming to be a mum. Its harder to contain arguments, disagreements and fighting especially when two of your daughters are the same height as you…There is also no negotiating with a child who neither understands, remembers or processes what you say. My ADD daughter finds it increasingly difficult to navigate the sibling situation. She is either going of the deep end at them, annoying them or being mean to them or she gets upset because they don’t want to play with her. I can’t blame them (L) may have forgotten that book she threw at them this morning or the slap she gave them but my other three do not forget and they don’t seem to forgive either.  Some days I do all I can to limit the stress caused by them.

I have to split them up, give them different directions!!  I often feel like I am waving my arms around like an Orchestra Conductor.

The guilt sets in about how my other children are coping with having a sister with difficulties/disabilities. On the outside they seem to cope well but the signs are there like yelling at me that its not fair. Life isn’t fair its hard work as there is no rule book, guide book or instruction manual. Some top tips I have learnt along the way

  • Give all of your children at least 15 minutes in an evening by themselves either talk about their day or do some reading. I have found this makes them feel important its not easy as you may get interrupted but persevere.
  • cooking….I try to involve the older ones in cooking for everyone. It gets them out of the firing line for a while and makes them feel involved.
  • always hug and kiss your children anytime anywhere. Make sure they know even if they have been naughty that you love them
  • sleep overs / days out…for the siblings of a child with ADD/ADHD family life can be hard for them. If at all possible arrange a day out or a sleepover for them with friends or family. It will give them time out and an escape especially if its been a stressful week.
  • Find an activity that everyone can enjoy. We use Story Massage a lot in our house for almost every situation. Story massage promotes relaxation, fun, concentration and it can also calm and bring everybody together.
  • Go for a walk. I find even just going around the block can clear the air and relieve some excess energy.

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Phew now I have written it down I may go have a cry and then brush myself down do some breathing and release the Stress and tension.Even on a bad day I never hate my children or myself and neither should you. Feel free to get in touch with me

x Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com

ADD….Playing to Learn

As a parent of a child with sensory and learning difficulties I am always on the look out for new and exciting play ideas. Being a parent and entertaining children of all ages can become difficult and stressful. Add in the special needs of ADD, Anxiety, Hearing loss and playtime can produce tantrums and tears born of frustration and lack of understanding. I sit and wonder some days what it must feel like when you think everything and everyone is against you and you don’t understand what you are suppose to be doing. Playtime is such an important part of a child’s life and education. Its how they learn from an early age about the world around them. So how do our children do it?  In my opinion its because they are amazing!!! These little individuals adapt to work around their disabilities.


All children can feel frustration, anger, upset, possessiveness while playing and socialising. I have found as a parent though especially at home that these feelings associated with ADD / ADHD  are heightened. Add in impulsiveness, an inability to wait their turn and short term memory loss, for us finding play ideas is always a challenge. While my daughter is 10 years old her level of understanding is impaired. She thinks differently. Harnessing my daughters strengths and interests is an important part of my roll as a parent and using these ideas can materialise into a myriad of play ideas and situations. We adapt what we have and make the best of it.

  • Story massage…This is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities and can be shared with the whole family. We use story massage to sing, play games, remember things, talk about things and to understand feelings. The children love to write their own stories and then show them to everyone. Check out http://www.storymassage.co.uk for more information
  • Sandpits….A really good wealth of play activities from seeking treasure, building sandcastles, writing, drawing, making shapes can all be achieved in a sandpit.
  • Arts & Crafts….We buy bargain’s from pound land or other similar shops and set up on the dining table or even outside. In the autumn we go for walks and make leafy collages from items she has picked up.
  • Role Play…we have a lot of role play toys from food items, dressing up clothes, dolls and teddies. For those of you with boys yes they can dress up and play along as well. My nephews love pushing pushchairs around. The great thing about role play is you can adapt it and you can play with them.
  • Dens….This is one I loved to do with my siblings when we were younger. Seek out an ideal place and put up sheets, quilts, blankets to make an amazing den. My girls will play in their dens for hours playing house.

With regards to play there are some things I have found its just easier to avoid. Puzzles and board games, these cause the most amounts of headaches, tears and tantrums. my daughter just can not cope with them. They cause anxiety and frustration. They can be thrown around in anger causing them to be launched at me or siblings (trust me having a hand full of little monopoly pieces flying at you is not funny). I just do not find the appeal anymore. Saying that a deck of cards is great for a round of snap!!!

So with all this in mind I recently joined my good friend and author of “Diary of a playful child” Pennie Powell. Pennie has two younger children and has for a while now being writing blogs all about the play ideas that she does with her children. I started reading them and started to see the potential for using her ideas with my daughter and its been great. Nearly all of Pennie’s ideas can be adapted to use with older children and I feel they are great to use with disabled/sensory impaired children. Check out her ideas at http://www.diaryofaplayfulchild.wordpress.com  

We got together at Pennies house and had a great morning playing with coloured spaghetti and food play items, foamy bubbles, and the Crunchy box. This last idea had to be my favourite. All it is just a plastic box filled with dried pasta, biscuits, cornflakes all mixed up. Pennie says “This is good for concentration, fine motor skills,distance judging, edible and its also great for touch,feel and sound and works with all ages.” My daughters spent ages separating all the ingredients into three separate piles. It took them ages and lots of concentration but it cost next to nothing and kept them entertained for a good couple of hours.

Have fun trying new ideas

X Leanne X

http://www.leannesihm.wordpress.com