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.
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
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.
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.
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
If you have read any of my previous blogs I like any other parent raising children can go through a series of emotions daily. Some are bad days where I struggle with parenthood to the point I feel my emotions are boiling over, my neck and shoulders hurt, I over eat due to stress and I generally feel crap, but other days make me realise how amazing motherhood is.
I have four girls aged between 13 and 7 and being able to watch them forge their own paths in life is an amazing privilege. We bring these tiny people into the world and are their family, teachers and support network. When they become older these little bundles trust and rely on you for everything still and you know that you will move heaven and earth to protect them. That feeling never goes away…..even now my own children are growing I still feel that sense of protectiveness and love I felt the day they were born. Even more so sometimes, I want to protect them from society and peoples cruel words, from prejudice and judgement.
While I never thought I would raise disabled children as many parents don’t I have never hesitated in doing all that I can to make sure they get the best and I fight daily to ensure they are raised in a world that does not see them as different and unable but sees them for the amazing people they are and days like today when they learn something new makes me proud.
All disabilities are different and need care in different ways but we parents become their carer’s and their advocates. In a world that is slowly changing to accept that people with disabilities deserve the same rights that we do I feel my children have more chance of showing the world what they have to offer. This is why I believe in writing and sharing my experiences like other parents out there so that hopefully my children can step in to a world where disabilities are considered but not made to hold those who have them back.
Having children who have hearing loss is hard. I am forever feeling like I need to apologise for their loudness and their bluntness. My eldest has a mild loss and wears hearing aids and recently was bullied and told to stop staring at people. Yet when she explains why it becomes easier to understand when you are an adult but not when you are a child. You see she is not intentially being rude it’s just as she uses lip reading to help understand conversations around her, she looks at people’s faces and body language. If hearing loss was more talked about I feel that people would understand better. Another daughter with moderate hearing loss faces different issues, she struggles with high frequency words and again uses lip reading and body language to make sense of the world around her. Speech is such an important part of who we are and communication is everything. Not being able to communicate can become a very distressing and upsetting prospect. Relationships can become strained as there are barriers.
Since the new born screening programme came in hearing loss is is picked up earlier and children can be given the care they need to help them but that doesn’t help others who do not know much about hearing loss. As a parent I tell people and are open with them that my children have a hearing loss. In previous years when my confidence was low this was extremely hard and I would frequently get embarrassed if people stared at us or stared at my children’s hearing aids. After confronting one person once about staring it became apparent that he was just fascinated as he had never seen young children with hearing loss and that he had always assumed it was an elderly person disability.
After that I became more confident at being able to explain my children’s hearing aids as humans we are very nosy, intrested but most of the time prone to staring as we are afraid to ask. My children are no different and will stare at people in wheel chairs or people who are different from them which I teach them is wrong and that if they are intrested they should go and talk to them. My eldest has done this to a poor lady in a wheelchair. She wanted to know why and after speaking to the lady she assured me she wasn’t offended but rather happy that my daughter would take the time to talk to her. Don’t get me wrong I can’t speak for every disabled person out there but I know that now my children are getting older they would much prefer someone ask than stare. It’s how they learn and share awareness isn’t it??
Don’t get me wrong it’s not an easy task to teach any child right from wrong but teaching your child to accept k that has been started and we live in a world where everyone is accepted regardless of their disability.
The ADD diagnosis that another of my children has is the hardest disability as a parent to cope with. I find it extremely challenging as a parent as ADD and ADHD are still viewed by some as just a naughty child and how I must be a bad parent in some way spoiling my child or that it must be because I can’t cope. Having four children is also a no no in some people’s eyes. Thing is I can cope, it hasn’t broken me yet and the worse part is that some days it is not my child that causes me pain but the thoughts and actions of others. I feel I have to explain my child’s disability when meeting anyone new so they know straight away that there is a valid condition that makes my child act out. I feel shame and worry that old prejudices come to the forefront of a strangers mind and that they think I am being silly and I just have a naughty child, a bad apple amongst the four of them. I don’t!!!!!!
Having disabled children does make you open your eyes to the plight of others. I never dreamed I would have children who had disabilities. No one in my family has anything and even the children of my siblings do not have the hearing loss or ADD that my children have. The disabilities my children face are by no means life threatening or emotional as what other parents go through, but for us it can be our own tiny world of emotional turmoil. I still feel occasionally like a failure compared to my siblings. That I must have done something wrong to be the only one with children who are viewed as different. I feel shame when my children do something that is not perceived as normal but can be explained due to their diagnosis especially my daughter with ADD…….but I never fail to feel that love, protectiveness and proudness that I felt when they were younger and free of any labels.
Everything thing that my children accomplish makes me feel such amazing warmth and awe and that as young as they are they will continue to forge a path through whatever comes and be amazing people ready to help anyone and pass on their strength and experiences to those that are around them.
Children are not born prejudice or judgemental, they are born inquisitive , looking for knowledge and accepting. It’s this that we need to encourage
To follow our story on Facebook search @Leannesihm
X Leanne X
The love and support of a sibling in my own life means so much to me. My sisters are always there no matter what, on good and bad days. Being the eldest of four, growing up there was no shortage of playmates and no chance for boredom. Now that we are older, there is always a shoulder to cry on, an ear to rant to and support whenever we need it. This bond has been an important part of my life and without I honestly don’t think I could have managed in the early days of having children and going through diagnosis.
Looking at my own four children it’s easy to see the amazing bond that they all share. Even with the range of disabilities they have, they are always there to love, support and annoy each other as only siblings can. Life is interesting to say the least. Each with their own individual needs they somehow come together. They are always there supporting each other when the need arises from cuts, bumps and bruises to just spending some quiet time together reading, drawing and story massaging… well, until the arguments start!
My eldest daughter, age 13, has a hearing loss which she lived with for five years before diagnosis. She is the rock of the bunch, always trying to help her sisters anyway that she can. Sometimes I feel that she takes on the motherly role too much and that she grew up too quickly but she’s always the peacemaker and will spend hours with her sisters playing games and make believe. There is no shortage of imagination in the family!
With two fellow sisters both also having a hearing loss, M is increasingly becoming my own little guru in understanding how my other two daughters may be feeling. As she says, “been there done that mummy, maybe this could help?” She tries to support them in the maintenance of their own hearing aids now that they are older, and takes great pride in being able to show her sisters the correct way to clean her aids. She also loves to cheer her sisters up by baking them cakes and letting her sisters help. This leaves me with an upside down kitchen but the result is always the same: happy, cakey children.
My second eldest daughter, age 12, is your typical teen and finds family life hard. She has no disabilities and can become frustrated with her sisters. I have been told that she has an old head on young shoulders but the truth is that she wears her heart on her sleeve and finds the noise levels and challenges of ADHD hard to navigate. But she is amazing at writing stories, poems and songs and will think nothing of writing amazing Story Massages which she then shares with her sisters. C will spend time using story massage and sharing what she has written with the whole family. C also loves to play on the trampoline with her sisters and they will literally be outside giggling like mad for hours. What she lacks in patience she more than makes up in love and the ability to cheer up people.
Our third daughter has hearing loss and ADHD. Life is a challenge and having someone who is forgetful, inattentive and impulsive can cause a huge strain on the whole family dynamic. Not to mention the OCD which can see her rearranging her room daily and also trying to rearrange her sisters’ bedroom, but her sisters have now learnt to embrace this side of L as they have realised that they do not then need to tidy their own bedroom up! This said she is our cheeky monkey, who on a good day will spend time gardening with her younger sister, trying to help anyone who needs it.
My youngest, aged seven, also has hearing loss. This one is the cheekiest of the bunch and she is able to bring a smile to anyone’s face even in the darkest of moments. Life viewed on the outside can seem harsh for my youngest as she has to compete with three older sisters, but she never fails to amuse. Always the prankster she can help diffuse an argument with her funny faces and voices which help to keep us smiling. She doesn’t offer much in the way of support to her sisters as yet but I’m sure as the years progress she will find her niche.
Life with four children may seem daunting to some but to me it’s awe-inspiring. Living with these little people who overcome so much to get where they are makes me proud. Of course like most siblings there is rivalry, arguments, and full on catfights, but there’s also laughter, love and support.
The bond that they all share is one I hope they will cherish for life.
XX Leanne XX
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!!!!