Edit 1: Gosh already an edit. When I initially started typing up this post it was mostly to gather some information to help our home school group Parents and the Children better understand Isabella. She’s had a very hard time with the transition especially in the class that I teach as I can’t be completely devoted to her in this new environment. I feel so blessed that this group is supportive and wanting info God definitely had a hand in guiding us to our 1st structured social experience since I pulled Isabella out of school. I can’t thank them enough. I was going to write a short and sweet summary add some video clips so that they could help their children understand. Some of the children are scared and that breaks my heart. I was ready to pull away the only thing keeping me was my commitment to teach a class. But I struggled internally you would think it’s because my daughter is having a hard time. But making her face biggest struggles is how I’ve gotten her this far. No my struggle was how much torture everyone is feeling while we are in the class. And just knowing that I was going to be asked to leave. So I was speechless when instead I was asked for information about Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. My short and sweet story has taken on a life of it’s own and I figured I’d be as transparent as I can be so that maybe someone else reading this that would like to explain to children what is Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder that maybe this post will give you a good start?!
So before I go any further I was able to find these 2 short videos which I think will help the younger children understand a little better what is going on though no 2 Autistics will react the same to things. Video: Nick has Autism Video: Arthur- When Carl Met George.
And here are a couple of very informative videos for adults or older children. Video: Ask an Autistic what is a Meltdown, Video: Ask an Autistic what is Sensory Processing Disorder, Video: Ask an Autistic what is Scripting
So if you are still with me at this point here is Autism and Sensory Processing disorder specific to Isabella
Hello everyone I wanted to take a moment to introduce my Beautiful energetic smart Little Girl. Isabella has been cooking since she was 4 years old by herself. She sewed her first outfit completely alone at age 4 as well! She really like to cook and sew on my sewing machine. She has her own business where she turns old ugly furniture into beautiful one of a kind play kitchens! At one point we had so many of them that we opened a store front for her. She loved having a store and welcoming new customers and showing them the things she made. Isabella is very artistic and loves building. Gosh you should see her Lego collection! She is also very organized! Everything she owns is in its own special container so when she’s done playing with it it has gets put away till next time so her My Little Ponies are never mixed with her Littlest Petshop collection. If these get mixed up it gives her anxiety and she gets really upset.
Isabella is Autistic. I say this instead of Isabella has Autism because you can’t catch Autism like you can catch a cold. Autism is a part of her it will never go away. For us Isabella’s Autism is what makes her so special. Autism is a spectrum condition which means no 2 Autistic people will ever be alike. When we say Autism Spectrum Disorder we are referring a group of complex social communication difficulties (According to the dictionary it is: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior)
When Isabella was almost 3 we were told that she would never speak and that if she did it would be only a few words that wouldn’t mean anything because it would be echolalia which means repeating or echoing things she hears. Isabella does this a lot! She will watch cartoons or commercials on cleaning products and repeat them all day. Well our response was to teach her to communicate through sign language and we used her gift for being able to memorize everything she watches or hears and turned it into communication. Since I’ve also memorized most of her “scripts” I help her use them in useful ways. Such as Dora the Explorer always starts with “Hi I’m Dora and these are my friends….” Isabella scripts this all the time so I’ve used the script and turned it into communication “Hi I’m Isabella and this is my friend Mom”
We were also told that she would likely never make a meaningful relationship with someone other than myself. At age 3 she still wanted nothing to do with her grandmothers which adore her, no one at the daycare all she would do is cry or try to run away. So I’ve made it a point to be right next to her until she feels safe enough to interact then I know I can step away. She has an unbreakable bond with her grandparents, and a few friends that understand her so she trusts them. Usually her interaction begins with parallel play (playing next to but not with) and as she starts feeling at ease it will turn into interactive play with friends.
We were told that she would never be independent and would likely need us to care for her her entire life or go to an institution. So from an early age I started having her fully involved in everything that it takes to run a house and earn money. I have lists everywhere that shows step by step how to do each and every task in the house with pictures. Because she has an awesome memory she can now do the laundry, cleans, folds clothes, She has been able to cook an entire meal for the family since she was 4 all by herself! When we go out I make sure to use self checkout registers and have her go through all the steps from making a list of what we need to finding and paying with a debit card (we’ll get into cash at another point in her life) She also has her own business. (I know I mentioned this above in the introduction but wanted to add the backstory)
Her teachers at school kept her in a special classroom. The classroom was full of yelling, hitting, biting, throwing children which all had their own challenges. I tried to have Isabella placed in a regular class because just like she learns how to repeat things she sees on TV well she started behaving like she saw children at school behave. We were told she couldn’t be in a classroom with the “typical children” because she was unteachable. This was the day we pulled her out of school and began our homeschool journey. Isabella is still traumatized from the school environment. I know this because in our journey things have been going so well. She has educationally speaking caught up to her peers in a matter of 3 months. She can read, do her math work (doesn’t like these to but can do them lol) she is a sponge for her history lessons and science lessons.
Now those were the challenging parts of Isabella’s Autism and every day we work on helping her manage the difficult parts by using her strengths
Now on to Isabella’s Struggles aside from Autism Isabella has ADHD, ODD but her strongest struggle is Sensory Processing Disorder (SDP). This affects 7 of her senses. We are all familiar with 5 senses Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste and Smell she struggles with all of those as well as Vestibular and Proprioceptive. Then when all 7 are fighting for the front position at the same time a Meltdown happens. Most of the time she is fine because we keep her Sensory System well Regulated during the day through the use of her Sensory Diet. Which begins at wake up with a deep pressure massage followed by a brushing technique called “Wilbarger Protocol” and Joint Compressions. Through the day she takes lots of breaks to jump on the Trampoline and Swing on the indoor Swing and Swing on the hammock we also have indoors. Isabella seeks a lot of Proprioceptive input to put this in the simplest term would be any input that puts pressure on her joints. Jumping, carrying heavy items, pushing weighted items, Stomping, squeezing. The proprioceptive system tells us where our body is in relation to our surroundings. When Isabella isn’t regulated or anxiety has hit the point of no return she seeks desperately some proprioceptive input. At this point she is in pure panic and when in this state she doesn’t always seek the safest or quietest form of Proprioceptive input. Once she even darted (ran really fast) into a parking lot and almost got hit by a car parking! But usually she will jump up and down stomping or push against me because she knows I will pull her in and she gets her input by trying to push me away. She is not hurting me she is just trying to get what she needs though it may look or sound scary. We work daily towards helping her manage her Sensory Needs in more appropriate ways.
On Monday I will be bringing my tool kit. Honestly everything that has happened recently has been my fault. I put my sweet baby girl in a new situation, with new people, completely out of our routine with no calming tools and expected her to go with the flow. Sometimes because she is doing so well I forget she is doing well because she has calming tools readily available. Isabella really is a happy loving sweet little girl. There is so much more but I really wanted to get this information to you before Monday and it is really late. Please revisit at your convenience for the completion of this post