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.
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.
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!!!
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.
It’s Saturday late tea time and I am sat in London Liverpool station. As a mum I don’t often get time to go away. Who does? We spend our time looking after the kids, the house, the pets, other halfs if in the picture and quite often we are working parents.
Life with children who have disabilities and additional needs can mean that more often than not we also have appointments, caring for, fielding phone calls, chasing specialist’s, administering medication to the children to factor in. Time is something that can slip away really quickly. One minute I am in April the next it’s May and I stand stunned for a moment as can’t remember what day it is. This happens quite a lot it’s why I have become somewhat a control freak. My diary and phone have become my lifeline. Without them I wouldn’t know when, what or where and I become increasingly panicked if something creeps on that wasn’t in the plans.
I like routine and although I don’t have any additional needs I do realise that on some level I understand my daughters need to have a routine and the helpless feeling that she feels when the routine gets interrupted. Even if at the time it can become frustrating adhering to a routine. It’s that feeling of OH MY GOD, it’s like a lead weight and I feel more often than not I become moody and irritated when the day I have planned goes basically tits up which let’s face it is a common occurrence when we have children.
So here I am tried but having had a great time away with friends. We have walked to Buckingham Palace, saw Clarence House, had a cocktail in the ice bar and a wonderful meal at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. It’s been lovely to have grown up conversations, a chance to unwind although my feet are killing me and just time away from the normal weekend routine of children, husband, chores ect.
But sitting here I am starting to feel really homesick. I love being a mum, I moan and grouch and sometimes feel like my world isupside down and that I am so low I feel I could walk away but some time out and r&r does wonders. Just one night away and I am missing my girls so much. I am counting the minutes to the train arriving because it will take me back and I will soon be in the thick of it. An early morning wake up call may make me backtrack in the morning though 😆
No seriously 😀 every mum has points where she feels low and I suppose the moral of this blog is please take time out for yourself. We are only so strong, we need to take care of ourselves as much as we take care of our children. If you find your losing your temper a little quicker with them, getting irritated quicker then it’s time to take that step and take some time. Read a book, go out with family or friends, put your feet up have a bath anything that helps you relax. Just take some time for yourself. Any amount of time from an hour to a night away can help you feel better able to cope and can mean the difference between a happy healthy mummy and an unhappy one. I love my children dearly and don’t ever want to feel like I have let them down, which on a bad day is how I feel.
So before you start reading a warning, my head is feeling disjointed, please be aware may contain rambling…….
I find more often than not when I come to a Saturday I feel so tired I tend to do nothing if I can help it. It’s not that I am feeling low or depressed but after a week of being on the edge and the whole family tethering on the edge it’s nice to just kick back, watch rubbish on TV, baking and eating cake, enjoy the sunshine in the garden and just not to think about anything isn’t it?
Not possible when you have children and definitely not when those children have disabilities. You see their needs overtake everything. People looking in from the outside do not see. When your child has an unseen difficulty or disability it can be hard for them to understand what they can’t see. Yes I moan to friends and family generally because we have been caught out and they have seen how life can be, I am not ashamed of my child’s behaviour she can’t help it, but I sometimes feel powerless to help her. There is no respite, no down time and at weekends I find myself trying to snatch moments in the day where I can either slob out, breathe a few quick breathes or just try and empty my mind. Weekends are family time, time to be together with no real plans. NO!!! Really it just means Daddy is at home to help……..Going with the flow we try not have anything planned on a Saturday and Sunday which is not always easy as life steps in.
After this week we need a weekend to just breathe and not do anything. The SATS as predicted caused stress and tension, tears and anger, frustration, sleepless nights. When you add in the build up the SATs seem to overtake everything for us from Easter onwards. Now that they are over there is a visual reduction in the amount of tension my daughter with ADHD is holding. She seems more relaxed and more able to focus on everyday tasks. Something she has been unable to do for the last week. Even just being asked to brush her teeth has caused an arguement because it’s something else I have tried to add into her already stressed out Day. The SATs have:
Resulted in tears and upset
Feelings of failure and that she is not good enough
Disruption of routine
Short frayed temper
Meltdowns at the end of the day
This is on top of the regular feelings that are associated I feel at any age with taking tests and wanting to do your best. Just because my daughter has disabilities and difficulties does not mean that she didn’t want to do the best she could because that added even more pressure. She wanted to join in with the year 6’s, she wanted to do the tests, she wanted to do her best and make me proud. She makes me proud everyday, all of my children make me proud they all do their best and even my older two have had exams in high school and I am proud of their attitude and just generally a very proud mummy. I could ask that they work harder, I could ask that they concentrate better, achieve more but I feel with so much outside pressure they need the time to also just be children. I feel my job is to teach them life skills, to help them feel part of the family, to look after their health, wellbeing and happiness. School is there to teach them academics and while yes we read, I make sure their homework is done and I help them with revision I don’t want it to overtake important family time especially as I already have feelings of guilt about how my other children cope with their sibling. I worry about how me as a mum trying to deal with Hearing loss and ADHD effects the dynamics within my little family:
If I shout I have to shout louder if they don’t have their hearing aids in as otherwise all I get is “what?” About 110 times this just makes me a loud crazy mum
I feel like I am always referring arguements, and I don’t get it right and get accused of taking side which I try not to
I feel shattered by 9am mentally exhausted spending an hour solving disputes and arguments between the kids. Usually I have a least one storm out of the house.
The end of school comes and I drag my feet to school for pick up, most days I am already in a bad mood as I naturally start to anticipate the basic hell on earth if my daughter has had a bad day
When I feel low we eat more crap food because I can’t be bothered either that or we run out of food in the house bad bad mother
So here I sit with some old Doris day film on the tv, one daughter out on camp for the weekend, the other sat next to me while Dad helps with the younger two trying to keep them entertained while trying to cope with the effects of having no routine as it’s the weekend. Who ever said having children was easy
The last few weeks it’s been nothing if not stressed in our house. Our daughter with ADHD is about to face her SATS along with other year 6’s next week and for us as well as I suspect many it’s been a bumpy ride.
Having ADHD means my daughter has symptoms of inattentiveness, impulsiveness, concentration and working memory problems. While medicated during the day once home the panic of not remembering can cause outbursts of anger and frustration making my job at home all the more harder in trying to keep her calm and in harmony with the rest of the family. This along with Anxiety, hearing loss and the general feelings of stress that taking exams can cause has me counting down the hours to the end of this coming week.
Today we have done no revision if it’s not in her memory now then the chances are it’s not going to be in there. We have tried to keep her relaxed and calm not an easy feat. Repetition, outbursts and continually checking her bag, her schedule, where she is going and what she is doing is her way of trying to control something. Control is something I think we all look for and without it we can feel displaced. My daughter tries hard to control every aspect of her life that she can. It’s how she feels and even if it’s not always easy to live with her feeling out of control is even worse.
We all remember exams and how they make us feel. I had an exam in December and I aged 33 was petrified. Afraid of failure, not being up to scratch and generally not believing in myself. To think that my 10 year old daughter is feeling the same emotions now as I did then is heartbreaking in itself. I wish they didn’t have to sit tests at this age. Isn’t it better to let them learn and progress at their own rate instead of pushing them to learn what they need to know for an exam?
Anyway so no revision this weekend and no I don’t feel that makes me a bad mum. School are their to teach her academics I am here to teach her life skills. I am here to teach all of my children that life Isn’t just about revision and sitting tests. It’s about looking after themselves, working to their strengths and being happy and healthy. Stress can have such powerful symptoms both physically and mentally and do we really want our 10/11 year olds to feel this.
Today we have had fun, relaxed and used story massage to be creative and to relax. Being able to share massage with my children is an amazing thing. Being able to help relieve some of the symptoms caused by stress and anxiety through fun and stories is great. Being able to talk through how we feel and put Massage moves to our words really brings my daughters imagination alive and helps her to put into words what she may otherwise struggle to express or express through anger and tears. Find out more at http://www.storymassage.co.uk
Hopefully by the end of the week we will all be feeling more relaxed.
Sitting here listening to the steady beat of the raindrops outside I am transported to a place of quiet and relaxation and harmony. Hang on a minute its the half term holidays!!!!! whats going on even when my other three children are outside playing my daughter with ADD is always about hanging on my every word, movement, talking non stop, being bored wether she is medicated or not as she does not cope well with the change in routine that is the school holidays.
Panic stations creep in maybe she has gone outside without me knowing or maybe she is downstairs with the scissors for art and omg I left her unsupervised ARGH
Heart in mouth I literally leg it downstairs and then stop dead. When will I learn….its nothing bad. You see 30 minutes ago I came upstairs while she was starting another one of her art projects. Art is her passion she loves to draw and make and show. Biased mummy that I am I even have some of her pictures on the wall framed. So amongst the turbulent feelings that split second of realisation has caused I realise I left my daughter to do arts and crafts and as far as I know she is still there. Of course this does not stop the panic… having a child who is impulsive means hardly a minute goes by without me worrying what she is going to do next and even though she is nearly 11 that has not changed, factor in the memory, concentration and emotional factors of ADHD/ADD its hard to grasp this alien concept that means she can stay focussed and in one place for more than 5 minutes.
Whats this I hear you say….shes’s sitting still, concentrating, focused on one thing instead a myriad of different tasks in a matter of minutes. Maybe the ADD / ADHD is not there? Maybe its a misdiagnosis well no its actually something that is real and quite amazing and known by some as an ADHD super power…. Its called Hyperfocus…
“Hyper focus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks. So, while mundane tasks may be difficult to focus on, others may be completely absorbing”
I can see why this symptom of ADHD could be misinterpreted. Heck I didnt even know it existed until I started a course in ADHD awareness. I was never told by the ADHD nurse about Hyper focus. I spent moments grappling with my decision to medicate and attend appointment’s when this symptom popped up, was I wrong was she in fact fine and not have a neurodevelopment disorder?? I thought she was just being stubborn. Talk about learning something new everyday and giving your self a heart attack. There is no way I would have put Hyper focus as part of the ADHD.
What does Hyper focus mean for my daughter and us?
Firstly hyper focus affects us all. This peculiar symptom of ADHD can cause arguments and stress within the family. My daughter is so focussed on the task at hand that sometimes its a real struggle to get her to move onto something else. In the case of art work this is fine I don’t mind her doing art for as long as she likes as she is expressing herself and learning from the environment but its when the hyper focus gets stuck on things like the maths games on the laptop. Again you would not necessarily think that would be an issue but when she is so focussed on finishing first one level then the next and so on and so on it is very difficult to try and get her to relinquish the laptop so that she can do reading which is just as important for her to do as it builds her knowledge of language and aides her language skills. Plus she becomes completely shut of from the world around her and as the definition says very absorbed, yes she is quiet but she also can’t answer questions and can become angry and frustrated if the laptop is taken away as it is every evening at least an hour if not more before bed.
Hyper focus can be viewed by some as an amazing ability and it is when its in the right context and its something that empowers my daughter. The amazing confidence and love that she has for the art that she does is an amazing thing. There are times that I love to sit and watch the magic take hold of her. Watching a picture emerge and seeing the focus and dedication she gives the project to make it the best she can is amazing. But for those of us around a child or adult who has it its also frustrating, annoying, upsetting, it winds up siblings, it quite frankly winds me up sometimes. Nasty arguments that can start as a result of someone trying to join in with my daughter are not for the faint hearted. Its almost like she is startled out of a trance and that invokes all sorts of feelings to bubble up due to the interruption, her concentration is broken and it can feel like hell on earth.
So Super power or not?
I think that it is a super power if it can be directed in a positive way but as with everything there will be days when the super power strikes and its the villain not the hero who has come out to play and to be honest i am not sure how I really feel about that…..
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.
As I sit here writing I almost want to keep the last week to myself. Going on holiday with children can be fun, stressful and tiring. Going on holiday with a child with ADD can make being at home seem like heaven. But we have had significantly more good moments this last week than bad.
Even though I try not to when planning a holiday I have to weigh the pros and cons of how it will affect my daughter. Going abroad for us is not a possibility. Being so far from home would cause more upset than it’s worth and be a huge waste of money. So we holiday in Great Britain.
For the past few years we have gone a little further every time. Right now we are on the bank of Loch Ness and what a magical place it is. The journey here was split with a two night stay at a site in Gretna green. This enable us to rest as well as help our daughter with anxiety. Travelling with her is the worse, even short car journeys so why did we decide to come to Scotland!! I hear you ask? Simple….we adapt so much of our lives to living with disabilities that sometimes I feel like I just want to wish them away and try and be ‘ normal’ I know there is no such thing as normal, it’s just sometimes I don’t want to not go somewhere or do something because of our daughters disabilities. It’s all part of my mantra for wanting them to experience what the world has to offer!!! To not be held back, and to not be defined by their disabilities, as a parent this is getting harder everyday. A few times this week I have thought what the hell am I doing! Am I gluten for punishment?
Why do I have these stupid ideas?……….But for me it’s the magical memories holidays like this can make!!!
While planning this holiday there was also that fear of being beside a body of water and the hills and crags that surround us. What would happen if our daughter got impulsive and fell of somewhere😱, how would we cope mentally being on edge all of the time near water and up high? but again how much do you change what you do to suit the symptoms of ADD/ADHD?? For me my daughter is just as much at risk of jumping of Cromer pier than she is of tumbling down Foyers falls. It’s about keeping on the ball and reacting quickly to any meltdowns and anxiety attacks. It has been far from easy with a refusal to eat as much as she needs to, tantrums, swearing, hitting out I feel her behaviour has hit an all time low. It’s like she turned 10 at the beginning of July and since then we have been on a downward spiral.
Surprisingly though I have felt more able to cope with it this week. Dad is here and while she is more attached to me he has made a huge impact on how much she has taken her anger out on me physically. She dosnt care how much it hurts to be hit, or pelted with a stick because she has to walk a little further up the hill. The arms crossed head down pose has been adopted quite a lot this week but do you know what? We made it a whole 7 days with 4 kids, a dog and husband 😂 we didn’t go home early (our usual trick).
So all in all its amazing here! Where is here?
Camping and caravan club Loch Ness shores Inverness-shire
What a place!! I almost want to keep it secret so no one else comes here. We arrived on Monday and instantly I fell in love. Nestled right on the shore the site has amazing views and lots of space. Ideal for those with hyperactivity. Being nestled quite nicely in the surrounding nooks and crags Loch Ness shores is a stones throw away from amazing walks taking you up to Foyers falls, rope swings galore and beach side campfires where you can sit and Nessie watch. It’s amazingly dog friendly too so we could bring our Labrador poppy.
The site itself has a quaint little shop with your essentials…including marshmallows for those beach side fires! They also have tables where you can sit and plan your day, read or play games. We haven’t this time around but next time we will definitely be renting some kayaks and actually get on the water or if that’s not your thing they also have some small motor boats just perfect for doing a little water side exploring. There’s a small airstream diner offering breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who would like a break from cooking…..the sausage and egg roll we had yesterday morning was divine. There is also a huge, clean and accessible amenities block with toilets, showers, washing machines and a tumble dryer. My daughter likes to come and help fill and empty the machines. I think this is more to do with the fact there is the hum from the machines and it’s a small room ideal for getting away from everything for 10 minutes. While stood waiting a quiet sense of calm comes over you. There is also a play park for the children, mine have spent most evenings there before bed playing and making friends with other campers.
Out and about Inverness is about 40 minutes by car and again with so much scenery to see our daughter coped quite well. Once there there’s so much to see and do. We went on a boat trip with dolphin spirit. Sadly the Dolphins were hiding this time but the girls enjoyed their time on board and there was activities for Louisa to do on board like colouring, animal spotting so she stayed entertained. We also went to a very quaint and quirky free titanic museum. Inverness itself has all the shops you would find at home. We didn’t really explore all that much as our daughter didn’t feel comfortable walking round a strange town. Next time we will….
Culloden battlefield was a interesting walk. We didn’t pay to go in the exhibition as it would have been for us personally a waste of money. Our daughter can’t seem to hold her attention and concentration and I felt it would have been a sensory overload this time around as it was also quite busy. The battlefield itself was free to walk. Dogs on leads allowed which was perfect for us. We walked round and discovered the clan stones (Fraser for the outlander fans :). Louisa was a little worried as we were walking around and her anxiety was high but open space, fresh air, history and free….as a parent what more could you wish for.
With so much to see and do we have hardly had anytime for story massage which is not like us at all. Once the bedtime medicine has been given to Louisa all of the girls have been asleep within minutes. Must be the pure, fresh air and running and walking we have been doing, needless to say it won’t continue when we get home it never does ha ha instead we have been jotting down ideas for a Scottish holiday story massage. This is what we came up with….
Down on the shore of the loch
Taking a trip to the loch (walk)
Wonder if Nessie’s about (claw)
We walk we run we play (wave)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The waves go up and down. (wave)
The birds fly round and round (circle)
The clouds go floating by (wave)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
We love to paddle and play (walk)
In this beautiful magical place (circle)
And roast our marshmallows (bounce)
Down on the shore of the loch (calm)
The Brown family 2016
Speaking of massage, mummies and daddies if you do come this way to the Highlands (and I highly recommend that you do) check out www.libraholistics.com The owner Lindsay is a lovely, friendly local therapist right on the campsites doorstep. Literally as you walk out of the site you are there 😊 Offering a range of treatments Lindsay offers tranquility and relaxation. The treatment room is relaxing and inviting and adds to the whole experience. In keeping with my mantra of how we should all have some relaxation massage is a definite must for those of us caring for disabled children. I had a back,shoulder and neck massage. Sleeping in a caravan does have its drawbacks 😀 but after the massage I felt much calmer, relaxed and ready for the long trip home a couple of days later.
Now the reality is that we are going home. Dad is going back to work and for 8.5 hours a day I am going to be on my own. It’s daunting!!!! In truth it brings an almost sick feeling to my stomach. How will I cope? How will I entertain the children? I am also trying to start the next step in my career as a holistic therapist, how will I cope juggling children, ADD and coursework?
Watch this space…… Take care all, enjoy your time with the children, make magical memories even on bad days and try to make time for yourselves I know I will and remember your not alone!!!!