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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Highschool – ADHD milestone

The last couple of months have been hard work. Having a child transition to high school is daunting enough when they don’t have special needs. Having a child that does have additional needs puts a whole new perspective on the transition for me. Having been in this situation twice before I thought I was prepared for my third daughter to start high school. How wrong I was….

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My daughter 11 years ago 

With so many meetings, notes, letters, forms, questions it has taken me this long to just sit and appreciate that this is a huge milestone in my daughters life.  Having a child with hearing loss and ADHD, learning difficulties worries me no end I struggled with her being in primary school how the hell I am going to cope her being in high school!! I seemed to have spent the last 7 years in a bubble which sadly has now popped as high school is such a different ball game

  1. They are expected to be independent
  2. Remember what they need each day
  3. Organise themselves and get to lessons on time
  4. Get their own food and Eat at lunchtime
  5. Be responsible
  6. Do the work set or have the confidence to ask for help

While for most children going into year 7 may not have as many problems with some or all of these for my daughter these are all milestones she has not yet reached. This is not through a lack of trying to get her to be independent, and trying as many helping strategies as we can to enable her to function as expected by society and peers. Its just some days this holiday it has more added stress and upset on top of everything else that we as a family have to try and overcome. Six weeks is such a long time for a child to be out of school, out of routine, away from their friends and peers. I worry…..

To prepare for high school we have

  1. Chatting daily about high school, familiarising her with talk of high school, answering any questions that she has
  2. Pinning up her school timetable so that she has regular access to it to try and familiarise herself with the sorts of lessons she will have
  3. Taking lots of photocopies of the timetable, I would advise doing this for any child starting high school as they will all loose it at one point or another
  4. Keeping the school uniform out and visual – its hanging in her room with her bag, shoes, pencil case so that she gets use to them, sounds silly to some but having new items can be daunting making sure my daughter is comfy with her new stuff is just as important
  5. Next week we will start getting back into the school routine in regards to times. When school starts we will need to leave the house at 8.20am so in preparation I’ll start getting them in the routine of up, breakfasted and dressed by 8.20am

Its also important to try and not project your own insecurities about your child starting high school. I am finding it really difficult to not become anxious, worried and over protective about how she will cope. I know its my job to worry and to make sure that she has what she needs but she also needs me to be positive and reassuring. I need to let her be as independent as she can be but as a parent and a carer I also need to make sure that she has the support from us as a family as well as the school.

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This is where trying to build a good relationship with new teachers and heads of departments is key. I have spent time worrying that I may be seen as that annoying parent who email’s questions and has had numerous meetings with the senco, but for us this has allowed my daughter to familiarise herself with the school. Its during these meetings that I was put at ease and told I could continue to email if I have any worries or concerns. We all hear the terrible stories where schools don’t communicate with parents and there is no support, teachers don’t receive training in special needs, there is no money, EHCP’s are notoriously difficult to get – we have tried twice and it boils down to being in schools that meet her needs. Parents are left feeling angry, upset and disillusioned with the whole education system. I know at times I feel that way.

High school is the next step up, the next milestone and the fact that there is no playground and no parent – teacher interaction first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day in my opinion shouldn’t matter, as parents we should be able to get the support we need and be able to speak to those that care for our children in our place. My advice don’t keep quiet, fight for your children, like I said its not another planet its just high school and lets face it high school is difficult enough for any child.

Good luck to all those taking their first steps into high school in the next few weeks parents and children alike

x Leanne X

My Struggle with Prejudice and Stigma 

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

SATS, stress and Relaxation 

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. 

Take care

X Leanne x

Routine….Where’s the Spontaneity in That?

Routines

Routine for us as a family is the basically the difference between a good day and a bad day.  There is no flexibility, there is no common ground, its the routine or the highway as far as I am concerned.

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Helping to cook encourages eating

Routine is such an important part of my daughter’s life, from the way she sets about her morning to how she copes with planned events, holidays and general everyday life. Without a routine my daughter can be left feeling bereft and disjointed in an already confusing and sometimes overwhelming world that she lives in. Being able to do anything in a way that helps her to stay connected to the rest of the family can mean the difference between her being happy and contented to being frustrated and generally unable to cope. Trying to balance this need for routine with three other children can at times cause strife and I am on lots of occasions accused of favouritism, but this is not the case. As children they do not see the struggle it is to try and keep everyone on an even keel. Having your life to an extent ruled by routine is difficult and frustrating but having a daughter with ADHD means she struggles with memory problems, impulsiveness, concentration and being able to adhere to a routine can mean the difference between her being able to function or having that meltdown that all parents dread.

In some form or another we all have a routine of some kind in our daily lives. From how we get ready for the day to how we move through it and how we end it. For me routine starts when I open my eyes getting my self ready and the girls all ready for the day ahead takes the same form everyday

  • wake up then wake the girls up
  • washed and dressed
  • breakfast
  • hearing aids in, hair brushed
  • coat and shoes on bags on

If I have managed to get the children all ready to go by 8.20am its a good day and means that having a routine in place has worked even if for me it feel’s like I have crammed a weeks worth of stress into 2 hours.
Never let it be said that the job of a mum or dad is easy. First thing in the morning until the children are all safely behind the school doors is the most stressful time of my day. Four children each trying to go about their own varying routines while co habituating in a small house brings that sense of cold fear when I open my eyes. There are days when I just want to bury myself under the duvet and pretend that I have no responsibilities, no reason to wake up and get going.
Having a young family is not all plain sailing even when you have great well thought, well meaning routines in place. This is never more apparent than in the school holidays. The effects of not having a routine during holiday’s is amplified because my daughter with ADHD relies so heavily on a routine and of course when there is no school day which is structured this can cause Anxiety and panic, a whole lot of shouting, fighting and stress for the children as well as me. How do I cope erm lets say on a bad day I don’t, I struggle hugely to get the motivation to carry out the same routine over and over. Its like my favourite old saying of “ground hog day” over and over. Everyday has to start and finish in the same way. It drives me crazy sometimes, wishing that for just once we could do something spontaneous.

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Not at all Happy at being took out

So basically for me routine is the difference in being a crazy, out of control frayed round the edges mum to a semi calm and collected mum who after a strong cup of coffee and 5 minutes of quiet is ready to face the day after the school run. Until the end of the day that is. I love being a mum, I thrive on their happiness, watching them grow and learn and if I have to live with routines then so be it.

XX Leanne XX

ADHD super Power….Hyper Focus

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.

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Art is definitely a Focus….

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…

What is Hyperfocus?

A short definition from http://www.healthline.com is

“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…..

take care

x leanne x

 

 

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