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

ADD; a run for the hills combination????

It was my daughters 10th birthday last week and for months in advance she had been begging to have a sleep over. Now sadly my daughter is one of those that does not get invited to many sleep overs / birthday parties. Wether its because she is not as popular at school as we are lead to believe or that parents knowing that she has “issues” just do not invite her, so baring this in mind and also in my new stance of trying to let her do as many normal things as possible (as I have let her sisters have sleep overs) and having the mind set that her disabilities should not hold her back, I eventually agreed to have a small number of friends who know her really well to stay over.

IMG_1135
the birthday girl

well…..

This was written at 2.45am the night of her sleepover…..

birthday sleep over and ADD; a run for the hills combination. over wrought over tired over excited every emotion going heightened and out of control when it gets to 2am and no sign of sleep what do you do

the only thing you can do so the guests can sleep is to move your ADD child and try and get them to calm and sleep back in their own bed

easy yes…. in our case its been 45 minutes and she has trashed her room screaming and swearing not a good combination especially as when she finally falls asleep she will wake up having forgotten what she has done.

I have come to the very stark realisation that even age 10 there are going to be limitations on what I can and can’t do with my daughter. For all that I want her to lead a normal life I have to accept that in some situations that is not going to happen. There is going to be times when I can’t let her have the independence she sees her sisters having. Having three so close in age (13 and 18 months between them) I really see the differences that disabilities have on my child. Its heart breaking!! I don’t want her to miss out!!!

These are the things they don’t tell us even when you get a diagnosis.

ADD is as much a learning curb as it is a disability. They tell us about the behaviours to expect, the drugs that can be used to help, parent courses to go on and so on. At the end of the day though there is no step by step guide to how to parent a child with ADD. Theres no written list of the do’s and don’ts. There is information on the symptoms and it is widely documented about all the bad disruptive parts of ADD and ADHD but alas I have yet to find a comprehensive manual or list that guides me through everyday life with my child. (will be waiting a lifetime as no two children/adults are the same)

img_6845
The girls

Very often I feel alone and alienated. Very often I feel like its all in my imagination, that surly she is not as bad as all that. I feel embarrassment… does that make me a bad mother? How hard can it be to throw your child a simple sleep over party when they are all the rage and everyone else is having them…surely her behaviour is no different to how it was when she was little except she is stronger, faster and when an object comes towards you it hurts. The screaming hasn’t gotten any louder, having sensorineural hearing loss on top has meant she has always been louder than her hearing sister. I can handle anything she throws at me…mentally and physically can’t I?

The thing is it has all changed. Disruptive behaviour at home or in the street wasn’t acceptable when she was little but up to age 6 she could be put in a pushchair or put on reins at least until she grew to big. Now when people see a tall 10 year old exhibiting behavioural problems they mutter and shake their heads. Heck I mutter and shake my head while inside I am fuming because I sometimes forget that she has this ‘illness’ and that she can’t help it but because I want her to be as normal as possible I do sometimes forget for a second that she is different, and yes as her mother I can say she is different because there is no way of getting away from it. She is unlike my other three daughters. Each different in their own way but so alarmingly different to their sister. If I was a bad parent surely they would all be like her?

So the sleepover…..

My daughters friends have sleep overs and maybe giggle the next time they are in school about how late they went to sleep but for us it was no giggle. The girls who stayed accept our daughter for who she is but even they struggled with her not being able to sleep. I felt pride at the way they tried to help her but in the end we had to remove her otherwise none of them would have slept. I had even tried to keep some of her routine at a much later bedtime and read to them plus she had her sleep medication but as mentioned, excited and anxiety played apart in making sleep disappear, we were left with running up and downstairs, shouting and screaming. I felt bad as a mother for taking her upstairs, making her sleep apart from her friends but when you are a household of 6, attached to another house sleep is very much needed by all. Needless to say the friends were asleep within 10 minutes of us removing her and didn’t wake till 9am the next morning.

IMG_6332

As for our daughter after she was spent from her tantrum she spent the rest of the night in our bed. She was very comfy!!! Me however spent time thinking and crying and wondering how much more we will come up against in the fight to give our daughter the chances and opportunities she deserves. Then again as parents thats what we do isn’t it? We give our children opportunities to grow and learn and we as parents also grow and learn. We learn the best way for us to cope / deal / parent our children. Its a huge learning curb being a parent and its a huge learning curb living with ADD. As the years go on no doubt I will learn more not only about ADD but also about myself and my family and especially about what our daughter will be able to achieve.

All I can say is never stop trying. There will always be good days and bad days, thats being a parent and we don’t always get it right. When it goes wrong cry, stamp your feet and let out the frustration and then start again fresh and new the next day. ADD for me is either a good day, a bad day or its sometimes like groundhog day…..

 

Take  care

x Leanne x

Going on Holiday……How we cope

Its that time of year again when school is winding down and my children are getting excited about the end of the school term and holidays. For weeks now I have been asked “what are we doing in the holidays mummy?” or ‘Can we do this mummy?” and we are not even at half term yet!!!
So far I have tried to not think about what having the children home for six weeks will mean but today I am facing facts.

IMG_5400

The six week holidays for us in previous years has been long and boring and arduous.

  • No routine – This can spell disaster. Anxiety, excitement, boredom all kick in
  • Food bills escalate – all parents wether they have disabled children or not must find this one of the biggest effects of school holidays
  • Trips out – unless throughly planned down to the last second can turn from fun to excruciating in seconds
  • Holidays – planning and packing with the children about….enough said
  • Car journeys – these are always the worse. Short trips I can get away with long journeys only if necessary
  • Holidaying on the doorstep – We use to go camping outside of Norfolk until a few years back. Camping on the doorstep where we can go home if we needed to or fetch something we forgot seemed such a better idea.
  • Sibling rivalry – In one word OUCH. The children can argue about everything and anything. It can drive me up the wall to the point of tears.
  • Money is another difficult part of the school holidays. Trips out, holidays they all cost money. Even a seemingly free trip to the beach can cost over £5 plus diesel getting there due to parking costs.

School days are easy the children know what they are doing where they are going and so on…. school holidays are a whole different kettle of fish.

Holidays

This year we decided to go to Scotland with the caravan in the Easter holidays….. But our daughter with ADD, Anxiety suspected ASD, Sensorineural hearing loss and OCD was not coping with the planning. She started to check the weather at every available moment. I would put my phone down and it would go missing. She would keep repeating when are we going? when are we coming back? What if I don’t like it?  What about my things I need mummy?

You see I had only given her a months notice that we were going and with the added issue of memory loss she was basically just freaking out. She was becoming Anxious and at one point worrying so much it was affecting her sleep. So we felt that we had to move the Scotland holiday until July. This has given us an extra 3 months in which to prepare her for a week somewhere away from home and to get use to the idea. We talk about the holiday all the time and have maps prepared and marked so she can see where we are going.

On a test run at the bank holiday weekend we went for three nights just down the road. Literally the next village from where we are!! Two seconds from the Grandparents house. I am not kidding that girl had more luggage then her Dad, Me and three siblings put together. What I found worked though at keeping the anxiety levels down was letting her pack her own bags. This helped her to cope with the fact we were going away from the home. She had a limit of two bags well ok three by the time she had convinced me of what she really needed to take. Items included

  • Teddy who she literally can not sleep without
  • Story Massage book
  • fairy book – we read a chapter every night after medication
  • colouring items
  • crochet bag
  • some other books
  • other assortment of toys that she promised would not get in the way
  • own pillow, sheet, quilt
  • two other cushions that she sleeps with
  • certain pjs that she had to have
  • Her clothes
  • shoes
  • coats
  • medication
  • snacks

By the time we had finished near enough her whole bedroom was in the caravan. Thank goodness for a fixed bunk bed and a 6 berth van.

IMG_0490
in the caravan
The weekend went well so I have high hopes for the actual week spent in Scotland….Maybe!!!

The night time routine was the hardest aspect. Luckily we shopped around before buying a caravan and made sure it had black out blinds to help with this. In our older vans we use to black out the widows using any means necessary including bin bags taped to the windows. We try to keep to the bedtime routine we use at home so that she has that continuity. Its difficult and there are downsides to camping but to what extent do you allow disabilities to encroach into family life. I hope when my children look back in years to come they realise on some level that everything i do and try to do is to maintain as normal a life of them as possible. Holidays abroad I must admit is not something i have considered doing as yet. The girls ask about going on a plane but for now I am just happy to try and show them what Britain has to offer. Even if its just a campsite a mile from home. Distance is not the be all its the family time spent together that really matters and the memories you make.

Travelling 

So our Scottish holiday entails the trip up there to start with. For that we will do what we did at christmas when we travelled to Yorkshire. I made all of my girls a snack bag up. Items included
fruit
biscuits
drink
colouring book
sticker books
cuddly toy
fiddle toys
scrap book

The bags were an instant hit and kept their hands busy for the majority of the trip there and back. Tip Tap was a game I remember playing in the back of the car as a child…. a very annoying game that can quickly escalate. Not something I want to experience as a parent 🙂

We also played eye spy, count the red cars and count the white vans. I sat in the rear with my daughter’s. That was an experience but one I felt was worth it. My ADD daughter loved that I was sitting with her and her sisters loved it even more because even when medicated she can turn a small crowded space in to battle ground. I was there with her keeping her calm and relaxed. I was able to use Story massage with her to keep her entertained and the calmer environment meant that Dad could concentrate better on the road and that her sisters didn’t all become stressed out as well. Plus I was able to divide my time between the four of them without craning my neck from the front seat.
After 5 hours on the road I can honestly say I was shattered. The constant entertaining and answering questions and singing meant that I really needed a break once we got there so straight away they went for a walk to burn of the excess energy. That week turned out to be a good week. With everything she needed our daughter mostly had a good time though she was very glad when we started to head home. The floods in York happened the week we were there and she was very scared that we would get trapped by the flood water and not get home. At the time we had a 4 x 4 which went some way to helping with her fear. Its not until you are away from home I think that you really get a sense of how scary having any sort of disability can be.

All I can do is hope for the best. I don’t want the children to miss out on going to new places and doing new things because of their disabilities. It just takes more planning and preparation and being to a degree able to change certain aspects at a drop the hat. We shall see….

x Leanne x

Allsorts…mums insight into ADD and more

Life in this house is always interesting to say the least. Living never mind raising four daughters is a challenge I am slowly finding harder each day. Living with ADD and hearing loss new days bring forth new challenges. Life is never boring…..


This week was a good week. Good for us means no major meltdowns just minor meltdowns, small irritations. No furniture thrown, arguements that are easily defused with a “get outside and play” as the weather has improved, Louisa moving up a level on Lexia reading core 5  ( a reading programme readily available for children helping to spell ect) which is quite momentous for her and a proud mummy moment.  Taking medication when asked, eating as much of their tea as they can, not waking as much in the night and a week of generally finding it easier to be a mum rather than a sergeant major bellowing orders at his recruits.

How many of you find that shouting at your children has no real effect?  Me I can shout till I feel my throat getting sore, my hands start to tingle, my face goes red and still my state of agitation has no effect on my children. One will just stand and scream back at me, one will either scream at me or become anxious depending on wether she is medicated at the time. The other two have a mild/moderate hearing loss so they just laugh at me and take of their hearing aids and say they can’t hear me 😡 as an adult I am suppose to rise above all of this behaviour but how?  I admit I bellow, I shout really loud as my daughter wrote in her recent Mother’s Day story massage poem (www.storymassage.co.uk) 

My Super Mum by Charlotte, aged 11

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

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

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

 My Super Mum brings magic and excitement (the Bounce)

I know how much she cares, she shows me everyday (The Circle)
So I wrote this for you, Mum (The Circle)
To show you how much I care. (The Calm)

Alas this week my temper has been kept in check. The sun has been out so the kids can play in the garden. We are not all cooped up inside which helps. Some days I really wish I could afford a bigger house so they had more space…maybe in the future. I have still felt frustrated at the beginning of the day but that’s normal right? The school morning routine is not for the faint hearted. I think for us parenst its the most stressful part of our day. I salute any mums that manage to put make up on and brush their hair before the school run ( my sister never leaves the house with out makeup 😘) I just can’t…… I always run out of time I am lucky if I don’t leave the house wearing slippers!!!! 

With Four kids to get up, dressed, breakfast, lunches ready, school bags, medication, hearing aids, school letters……. It’s no wonder my youngest sometimes goes to school looking like she has been dragged through a bush backwards. Seriously that hair it gets matted and I am such a bad mum for yanking it into pig tails to hide it 😳 You know what though it’s not that I don’t care it’s just sometimes there are more important things to worry about. As long as they have everything they need, the three of them have their hearing aids so they can access language and learning and have eaten and are at school on time what does it matter if one has odd socks? One hasn’t brushed their hair? Ones in trainers and another is in leggings which is not school uniform!!! And oh shit they have nail varnish on does that make me a bad parent. I hope not lol. 

It’s also that time of year when the six weeks holidays are looming. They have one week of at the end of the month then the real count down will start. Watch out for future crazy mum blogs…….
It’s been SATS week this week as well. Worry and stress have been a huge part of year 6’s here in England for months now with so much prep work and mock tests. With a little bit of massage and relaxation and a small amount of patience we have  managed to get our 11 year old through. Massage really was the key to helping her calm down and relax while refocusing her and helping her concentration.  To put preteens through this much stress for pretty much no real reason I can fathom as a parent is silly. I found it stressful. Trying to keep a lid on my 11 year olds potentially explosive behaviour is hard. She’s the odd one out as she calls herself as she has no hearing loss unlike her sisters. She finds it hard to cope with her sisters challenging behaviour associated with ADD. I wonder if my eldest better understands due to her hearing loss? Don’t know maybe that’s something I will look into. I did It though. We got to school 10 minutes earlier as asked in a newsletter. The SATS are now over for this year…… Next one to sit SATS next year is Louisa. 

I have been a mean mum this week though. Do you ever get to the point where even though the kids have been at school all day you need them to go to bed? I have felt like that. In fact that might explain why this week has been better. The kids have all been in bed and asleep by 8.pm. Even the elder two which gets me thinking that they must have been tired otherwise they wouldn’t have slept. They did moan and groan at me and I had some it’s not fairs, your stupid mum, but I am not tired but no where near the amount of protesting that I would have normally gotten. Next week they will be back on form and resisting at every turn just as children do but it’s been calmer and they have been better behaved.

We had a hearing aid overhaul this week as well. 3 X 2 hearing aids to be cleaned and retubed.  That’s always a fun job especially when the children Spring it on me 10 minutes before leaving the house. Quick mum can you just…. Why didn’t we do this last night? Erm chances are they asked last night and I properly said I will do it later as I was busy and later then transpires into the next morning… Sound familiar? Anyway they were sorted and we were out the door no later than needed which was good. 


 Although a better week the hormones have started in our house this week. With two so close in age (11,12) the tempers are flared. The husband is already prepping his man shed to save himself from the wrath of four girls but sometimes there’s no getting away from them. As a mum I think I need a mum shed!!!! Somewhere that I can escape to although knowing my luck they would be at the door banging and shouting much like they still do when I go to the toilet. Yes even aged 12,11,9 and 6 I can not go to the toilet in peace. I try to time it when they are busy but you can guarantee as soon as I sit down “MUM?..” 😫 

How our daughter who is 10 (ADD) will cope when these changes start I don’t know. Not looking forward to that time at all. As with all things though I shall try and work through it and learn ways to cope. Luckily massage is already such an intergrated part of our family life that when all else fails I can use massage to relax and promote a calmer atmosphere. Just wish I could do a massage on myself some days although with story massage the children love giving mummy a massage 😊 and to hear them making up their own songs or using the language skills that in the case of hearing loss and ADD took so long to come to the fore front I just love hearing them use language and sing. 

This week has been rather an unusual one in that here we are on Saturday morning and I feel able to write. The children are playing happily having been up since 5am. The peace won’t last for long but I savour it while it’s here.
As always any comments gratefully recieved. Remember you are not alone

Take care 

X Leanne x

I found a superpower….Massage

Ha Ha I love this heading I think its well apt for how I feel massage has helped me with coping with the day to day life, drama and ups and downs of raising a nearly 10 year old with ADD and hearing loss. Hope you enjoy reading as always any comments, feedback very welcome, at the end of the day I am just a mum like you x

IMG_8432

Touch…. What is meant by touch? 

The media portray touch as sensational headlines made to sell newspapers and get you watching the news. It’s deemed inappropriate, something we should never do, something we should get in trouble for. It’s almost a taboo subject. My six year old daughter came home yesterday and told me that the teachers are no longer allowed to apply suncream? my first thought was thats just stupid…. but this is how our society is going.

The thing is human beings need touch. We are a very touch sensitive race. We find comfort and warmth, love and support in touch. We communicate with touch, we express our feelings through touch. We bond through touch… How could this be wrong?  The sad answer is in lots of ways. There are so many bad things in the world that for many of us we are unsure what is right or wrong which is making it all the more harder for us parents. Any child needs to feel love and a connection with another human how can that ever be deemed wrong? My children who have hearing loss have already lost the full use of that sense making touch, sight and smell all the more important for them. What happens if touch becomes taboo…. we will no longer be able to hug our own children, tend to their cuts or help them through the power of touch. How will massage therapists like myself use massage to aide and help those if touch is no longer allowed? Its all very scary and confusing as a parent but here is my take on how positive touch could help you and your children x

Positive touch….

As an Indian head massage therapist one of the first things I learnt was the history of Indian head massage. Families, barbers ect in India use massage in everyday daily lives. The whole family gets involved from grandparents and the elderly to new babies, toddlers and everyone in between. As well as the massage benefits touch is an important part of family bonding, promoting respect and spending time together.

IMG_0482

For us as a family this is where massage now plays a huge part. There is now a lot of research out there on the internet about the benefits of massage for ADHD / ADD and similar conditions. It was due to this research that I decided to train in Indian head massage and story massage. I could go into great detail and post excerpts from these studies but instead as a mother not a research specialist and having hands on experience of everyday living with a child I decided some weeks ago to write what I know.

My main use of massage is at bedtime. My daughter has a drug called liquid melatonin which for her at the minute is the only medication that allows her to have a modicum of sleep. Trust me we have tried and sort medication as a last resort. Before she was medicated we were up until the early hours with a very awake child. Taking it in turns almost in shift patterns, trying to keep the noise down and just simply trying to be a family. Eventually though our other children were starting to suffer the effects of sleeplessness due to their sister. Tempers were becoming frayed, the house was a tense environment and became a home that no one wanted to come back too. Nothing could and still doesn’t sometimes now get her to sleep.

I use to become frustrated and angry because I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t just go to sleep like her sisters. Part of me in a way still feels that I really don’t understand what is going on. We are in the middle of trying to get more information from the specialists but as with anything it’s a long drawn out process. So for now we have to do our best. we medicate her. I as a mother give my child medicine that makes her sleepy even if she doesn’t want to be sleepy. When I say its bedtime it really is bedtime for her. There is no happy medium, its not a joke and its not the easiest thing to do. Watching your child succumb to the effects of drugs is never an easy thing to watch. It does not make me feel good inside to measure out the medication….I am not secretly inside doing a victory dance because tonight I know she will get at least 6 hours sleep. The reality is so much harder to bare.

goldfish-1356076_960_720
feeling like I am floating about not really knowing what I am doing 

So bedtime is the main area where we struggle. We have a checklist that we have to methodically stick to :

  • There’s no electrical devices of any sort an hour before bed. This is to try and help the melatonin produced in the brain do its job.
  • 15, 10,5 minute warnings – this count down ensures the least amount of possible arguing. Our daughter can not be rushed so this helps her to keep track of the time.
  • medication and snack
  • Upstairs, wash, dress, teeth
  • Into bed – check all teddies, blankets are there
  • read a story
  • 5 – 10 minute massage – in bed where she then does not have to be disturbed.

 

Maybe 7 – 8 times out of 10 massage is the key to getting our daughter to relax just enough to help the medication do its job. But massage is not a cure. It’s not a fail safe! It’s not a miracle cure. So why do we do it? Because even when you can’t see results massage has helped in some way, it allows our daughter to interact and to feel safe and happy. Its almost like when you swaddle a baby and they feel calmer and content. Its the same with our daughter and massage. We now use massage in so many aspects of her life its almost become a comfort blanket. If she is feeling anxious 5 minutes of massage can make her feel a little better and thats the best that I as a mother can hope for. Its what we do….We find ways of helping our children and making them happy. I feel great achievement if our daughter can manage to sit still for 10 minutes and relax with a massage. I also feel that as her care giver it has strengthened our bond. My voice through story massage can quite often bring her back to herself. A simple story can help her calm herself but also help her with language and counting and just making sense of the world around her.

Back to massage…..

Generally we do 15 minutes of massage every night. I use story massage which is a great way to interact with your child while keeping them engaged. Blending stories, songs or nursery rhymes with simple,gentle, relaxing massage moves promotes relaxation. The massage eases tense muscles and calms the mind while at the same time strengthening the bond between myself and my daughter. Story massage is a great way to end the day. It’s soothing and can be done while my daughter is laid in bed. Twinkle twinkle little star up her arm is her favourite at the minute.

This massage is especially important after a particularly stressful episode. Massage and my voice is sometimes the only way I can get through to my daughter. It can calm her, get her to refocus on the here and now and also get her attention away from whatever caused the problem in the first place.

The way I see it is when I was pregnant I spoke to my bump. I imagine lots of other mothers did this too. Once my daughter was born having failed the new born hearing screening after two years she was diagnosed with hearing loss. Although it took two years for her to get her hearing aids the close contact and endless talking to her ensured we had a strong bond. So she knew my voice. Once the symptoms of ADD started to present themselves aged 2.5 years I figured that on some level she knows my voice and that I am a safe zone. A part of her brain can recognise that I am not a threat and even though her body language is saying one thing generally I am able to calm her down by talking and singing. This can be really hard when she is shouting and swearing at me but I have to persevere. If I can’t look after my own child who else is going to?

Part of this also means that she feels she can take all her anger and frustration out on me as well but that’s for another time.

So when using story massage in a stressful situation it can help to calm and refocus my daughter as she can hear and recognise my voice. Also by telling a story or singing a song there is no room for me to shout or get angry. Have you tried to tell a story while your angry? I have….. By the end I was laughing and so was my husband because it just sounded funny.

img_0484-1
http://www.storymassage.co.uk

Story massage is simple. There is no right or wrong way. It’s all about sharing positive touch with your children. Promoting respect at the same time as being creative and fun. For those with Autism, Anxieties learning disabilities or who just don’t like to be touched all can join in and enjoy the benefits of story massage. You see story massage could be used to promote touch resulting in self confidence. It gives children the chance to be a part of the massage. They can write their own stories, they can join in with siblings or they can share a massage with mum or dad. My own children have endless fun writing their own stories and one of my daughters loves to give massages. She picked up the massage moves easily, as did my 6 year old. Visit http://www.storymassage.co.uk

Indian head massage is reserved for once a week. Concentrating on the upper back, shoulders, neck scalp and face Indian head massage is gentle and a seated massage. The treatment usually lasts 30 minutes. My children all love having a massage. The benefits are lovely.

If you want to find out more then please get in touch. I currently offer sessions in Norfolk to parents, care givers or anyone who wants to learn. To find out more http://www.marshamholistictherapy.co.uk

Take care until next time

 

x leanne x