Another autism friendly barber…

Hello 👋  😃

Remember my post a little while back called  Stourbridge hairdresser championed as a safe place for parents to bring their children with special educational needs ?

Well, my blogging friend Mr Knitter has kindly sent me a link to a autism friendly barbers in the north of England…

Click here for the autism friendly barber…

Mr Knitter commented on my previous post saying …

That is great to see there are other barbers and hairdressers catering for kids with needs. People like Anthony should be admired for their work. My friend has won awards for her barber business as she too caters for kids with all needs, she has spent lots of money making her place an amazing place, she even has special barber chairs that are cars, sensory items and other fun things for the kids, and they all get certificates each time.

Isn’t that fab!? We really need to share and promote these businesses.

Please go and check out Mr Knitter’s blog

before you leave.

Thank you 🙂

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Balloonacy and Me in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Balloonacy post number three…

An Intense World

I have been mentioned in the Chronicle of Higher Education in a piece on the author of Balloonacy. Scroll down to the second piece, titled Work as Play. They specifically mention my involvement in this video, based on what I had written on this blog about Daniel’s reaction to the play.

It turns out that the playwright, Barry P. Kornhauser, had in fact written the play to reach children who were either deaf or couldn’t speak English–meaning, he had disabilities and language difficulties in mind, even if it wasn’t specifically autism. In fact, in a private email, he admits that though he works with children on the spectrum all the time, it hadn’t occurred to him that the play would be perfect for them. I’m certainly pleased that he was touched by my words, even as Daniel was touched through his play’s lack of them.

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Troy and Daniel’s Trip to See BALLOONACY at DCT

There are two follow up blog posts to the first Balloonacy post I reblogged a few days ago and I’m very pleased to share them 🙂

An Intense World

The Dallas Children’s Theater did this animation based on this post. I there is a performance of Balloonacy near you, I encourage you to see it. Whether your children (or you) have autism or not.

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Balloonacy — A Play Good for Children with Autism

An Intense World

Several years ago (April 2015) my family went to the Dallas Children’s Theater to watch Balloonacy, a cute mime play about an old man who lives in an apartment by himself and is celebrating his birthday alone, when a balloon comes in through his open window and becomes his friend. The Dallas Children’s Theater has special showings of certain plays for children with sensory issues, and we have been going since their first such show. The sound is not as loud and the lighting contrast between the stage and the seats is not as sharp.

Although this was not our first play we attended at DCT, and although Balloonacy was not specifically written for children on the autism spectrum – it is a pretty standard mime play in the French style with light slapstick – I decided to write a little about this play because of Daniel’s reaction to…

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What love looks like

I’m not sure what’s going on with me at the moment. My sensory processing disorder is worsening. In my last post (Travelling) I mentioned how car travel is increasingly difficult. There are lots of other things too.

Next weekend is StitchFest down in Totnes, Devon. It’s one and a half to two hours away. I really want to go. I want to handle fibre before I buy it. I want to smell it. I want to soak up the atmosphere that such an event inspires.

I don’t know if I can actually do it… the traveling, walking in to two unknown venues, the lighting, the noise, being unexpectedly touched, flickering screens, low level spot lights…

I’ve been in tears trying to decide whether I should go, or not, or go, or not… Yes, I meant to write that twice.

What love is, dear reader, is Lovely Husband’s answer. I don’t have to decide until the day. If we get halfway there and I say I can’t go on, he’ll turn back. If I get to the door and I can’t go in, we’ll turn back. If I’m in there one minute, 5 minutes… we’ll turn back. To him I am not wasting his time, not wasting money on fuel, not wasting money on an entry fee… To Lovely Husband the important thing is that I get to try.

The Four Social Rules every Autistic Person needs to Learn

Autism and Expectations

Trigger warning – although this post doesn’t mention any detail of abuse, it is about the dangers of teaching someone not to trust in their right to say no

From a young age I was taught three things:-

  • The messages I get from my body are wrong
  • Not wanting to be touched is wrong
  • That I must override these feelings to be accepted

From encouraging an autistic child to give up a harmless stim (which may be helping them to cope with negative sensory information), to telling them that eye-contact doesn’t hurt (when it does translate to pain for some), or that hugs are pleasant physical contact (when they may be too much sensory information all at once) or that labels aren’t painful (when the feeling of being clawed at may be very real), navigating what will be believed as real, and what will be dismissed as silly or attention-seeking…

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Travelling

Car journeys are becoming increasingly more difficult for me. Sometimes I’m fine but more often than not I’m experiencing sensory overload within minutes of starting a journey.

So what do I feel? Well I don’t feel nauseous. To be honest I can’t explain how I feel exactly but I know what disturbs me.

Flickering via peripheral vision: trees, fences, railings, vehicles, road markings…

Constant movement in forward vision.

Squeak of wipers.

The switch of the indicator and wipers.

Indicator beeps.

The motion of the car taking a bend in the road (and our 45 minute journey to get to the motorway is very bendy).

These are the things I’m aware of. Today I wore my prescription sunglasses and sports over glasses and it made little difference. I can’t use my noise cancelling headphones over two pairs of glasses. I tried to keep my eyes shut for the one and a half hour journey. I had one hand on a handle and the other on the car seat edge to help with balance.

Coming home later today the journey didn’t feel so uncomfortable but I was very relieved to get home.

I don’t know what to do. I find it a bit frightening because it seems to me that my sensory processing is steadily getting worse meaning that my life is getting more restricted as months go by. Today the thought came to me that my brain is steadily shutting the world out.

I’m wondering if any of my autistic followers have this problem? Do you think it is a vestibular and/or propioperceptual disorder?

I am including an article below that I accessed today (date above) from https://www.autism.com/symptoms_sensory_overview

Sensory Integration

By Cindy Hatch-Rasmussen, M.A., OTR/L

Children and adults with autism, as well as those with other developmental disabilities, may have a dysfunctional sensory system. Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation. Such sensory problems may be the underlying reason for such behaviors as rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping. Although the receptors for the senses are located in the peripheral nervous system (which includes everything but the brain and spinal cord), it is believed that the problem stems from neurological dysfunction in the central nervous system–the brain. As described by individuals with autism, sensory integration techniques, such as pressure-touch can facilitate attention and awareness, and reduce overall arousal. Temple Grandin, in her descriptive book, Emergence: Labeled Autistic, relates the distress and relief of her sensory experiences.

Sensory integration is an innate neurobiological process and refers to the integration and interpretation of sensory stimulation from the environment by the brain. In contrast, sensory integrative dysfunction is a disorder in which sensory input is not integrated or organized appropriately in the brain and may produce varying degrees of problems in development, information processing, and behavior. A general theory of sensory integration and treatment has been developed by Dr. A. Jean Ayres from studies in the neurosciences and those pertaining to physical development and neuromuscular function. This theory is presented in this paper.

Sensory integration focuses primarily on three basic senses–tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive. Their interconnections start forming before birth and continue to develop as the person matures and interacts with his/her environment. The three senses are not only interconnected but are also connected with other systems in the brain. Although these three sensory systems are less familiar than vision and audition, they are critical to our basic survival. The inter-relationship among these three senses is complex. Basically, they allow us to experience, interpret, and respond to different stimuli in our environment. The three sensory systems will be discussed below.

Tactile System: The tactile system includes nerves under the skin’s surface that send information to the brain. This information includes light touch, pain, temperature, and pressure. These play an important role in perceiving the environment as well as protective reactions for survival.

Dysfunction in the tactile system can be seen in withdrawing when being touched, refusing to eat certain ‘textured’ foods and/or to wear certain types of clothing, complaining about having one’s hair or face washed, avoiding getting one’s hands dirty (i.e., glue, sand, mud, finger-paint), and using one’s finger tips rather than whole hands to manipulate objects. A dysfunctional tactile system may lead to a misperception of touch and/or pain (hyper- or hyposensitive) and may lead to self-imposed isolation, general irritability, distractibility, and hyperactivity.

Tactile defensiveness is a condition in which an individual is extremely sensitive to light touch. Theoretically, when the tactile system is immature and working improperly, abnormal neural signals are sent to the cortex in the brain which can interfere with other brain processes. This, in turn, causes the brain to be overly stimulated and may lead to excessive brain activity, which can neither be turned off nor organized. This type of over-stimulation in the brain can make it difficult for an individual to organize one’s behavior and concentrate and may lead to a negative emotional response to touch sensations.

Vestibular System: The vestibular system refers to structures within the inner ear (the semi-circular canals) that detect movement and changes in the position of the head. For example, the vestibular system tells you when your head is upright or tilted (even with your eyes closed). Dysfunction within this system may manifest itself in two different ways. Some children may be hypersensitive to vestibular stimulation and have fearful reactions to ordinary movement activities (e.g., swings, slides, ramps, inclines). They may also have trouble learning to climb or descend stairs or hills; and they may be apprehensive walking or crawling on uneven or unstable surfaces. As a result, they seem fearful in space. In general, these children appear clumsy. On the other extreme, the child may actively seek very intense sensory experiences such as excessive body whirling, jumping, and/or spinning. This type of child demonstrates signs of a hypo-reactive vestibular system; that is, they are trying continuously to sti mulate their vestibular systems.

Proprioceptive System: The proprioceptive system refers to components of muscles, joints, and tendons that provide a person with a subconscious awareness of body position. When proprioception is functioning efficiently, an individual’s body position is automatically adjusted in different situations; for example, the proprioceptive system is responsible for providing the body with the necessary signals to allow us to sit properly in a chair and to step off a curb smoothly. It also allows us to manipulate objects using fine motor movements, such as writing with a pencil, using a spoon to drink soup, and buttoning one’s shirt. Some common signs of proprioceptive dysfunction are clumsiness, a tendency to fall, a lack of awareness of body position in space, odd body posturing, minimal crawling when young, difficulty manipulating small objects (buttons, snaps), eating in a sloppy manner, and resistance to new motor movement activities.

Another dimension of proprioception is praxis or motor planning. This is the ability to plan and execute different motor tasks. In order for this system to work properly, it must rely on obtaining accurate information from the sensory systems and then organizing and interpreting this information efficiently and effectively.

Implications: In general, dysfunction within these three systems manifests itself in many ways. A child may be over- or under-responsive to sensory input; activity level may be either unusually high or unusually low; a child may be in constant motion or fatigue easily. In addition, some children may fluctuate between these extremes. Gross and/or fine motor coordination problems are also common when these three systems are dysfunctional and may result in speech/language delays and in academic under-achievement. Behaviorally, the child may become impulsive, easily distractible, and show a general lack of planning. Some children may also have difficulty adjusting to new situations and may react with frustration, aggression, or withdrawal.

Evaluation and treatment of basic sensory integrative processes is performed by occupational therapists and/or physical therapists. The therapist’s general goals are: (1) to provide the child with sensory information which helps organize the central nervous system, (2) to assist the child in inhibiting and/or modulating sensory information, and (3) to assist the child in processing a more organized response to sensory stimuli.

For further information, contact: Sensory Integration International, P.O. Box 9013, Torrance, CA 90508, USA