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

Advertisements

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….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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.

img_1695

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

Sibling love, rivalry and life

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. 

Sibling Awesomeness

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

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.

img_0484

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.

IMG_0490

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!!!

IMG_3543

  • 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

Transitions, EHCP Ramblings…..Sloppy Life in Realtime

The last few days have been the hardest I think I have had for a long time. My brain feels like its on auto pilot, its on a non stop rollercoaster and I can’t see the end. I am screaming on the inside while trying to look normal for my children, family and friends. So sorry but here is as good as it gets my brain is fried, here are my ramblings…..

Why….

EHCP’s, Transition to high school, impending residential trip, family holiday’s, work, hospital appointment’s, general life……

img_1295
holidays planned

As a parent of children with disabilities life is never quiet or simple or normal…… there is no getting away from it watching my sister’s I envy them some days because everyday there is something else I need to remember, something else I need to do, to tell, write, ring, order, the list goes on and on. To have a bat shit crazy couple of days feeling like a legless jelly baby who hasn’t a clue what they are doing is normal right? Life gets to us all so if you see me in the street with a bright red face, unbrushed hair, no makeup and looking like I walked of the page of a 70’s catalogue its because I am trying to be a mum, carer, advocate, researcher plus everything else. I go to sleep dreaming of the printer and what its going to spew out next, I wake up to the face of my 10 year old daughter grinning at me before commencing with the first of many rude words, screams, shouts, tear’s or just plain crazy bouncing of the walls until the medication kicks in and she can calm down and concentrate on getting ready for school.

The life of any parent is filled with ups and downs….

Its no different for any parent, we all worry the same, we all do the best for our children the same way and we all have good and bad days thats what I keep telling myself.

So why do I feel like I am loosing the plot well the EHCP for example….theres so much conflicting information out there I feel inadequate in my role as a parent in best supporting my child. Anyone who knows what and EHCP I bet knows what I mean. For those of you unsure its the education, health and care plan which is for those aged 0-25 who have additional needs and is there to coordinate your child’s educational, health and social needs and it also sets out any additional support that they may need. To me its a mind field, another obstacle which I have to try and hurdle over but with amazing people behind me and with the right knowledge I will go blindly forth and try and get my daughter the support that she needs to keep progressing and being able to live as normally as she can and be able to access everything there is to offer in this world.

img_0563
Hanging around in her hammock

Then couple this with the impending transition to high school and I feel like a first timer when in fact this is my third child to go to high school. In reality I think I am unprepared mentally in the back of my mind we are not near that stage but in reality we are. This period in our lives has crept up on me so quickly that I haven’t had time to process it never mind my daughter although after a positive look around the school she hasn’t mentioned high school since. With my older two its all they talked about for months before starting year 7. Here in lies my biggest worry as I am unprepared and so is she and it also makes me realise that maybe some part of me has not fully been able to process that my daughter has special needs. Does that make me a bad parent, I don’t think so its just I have tried to stay strong and keep things together and try and make life as normal as I can for my family when in fact I am scared that if I drop a thread our whole family existence will start to unravel like it did 4 years ago.

Raising disabled children is a juggling act. There are so many balls that I am afraid to drop but I have managed to keep them all in the air so far but when there are balls added like high school, the EHCP, new appointments, referrals I am so worried that at some point I am going to drop something and as a parent thats what I have nightmares about.

So tip to myself…..look after myself, take a break, delegate, ask for help, have a massage

take care

x Leanne X

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.

img_0344
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