Tag Archives: autism

Hair: Sensory Issues with Washing, Cutting and Brushing

Those with Sensory difference can have problems when it comes to touch, this can be really uncomfortable and sometimes very painful causing the individual to have a “meltdown.” In some situations this really cannot be avoided completely especially when it comes to taking care of their hygiene including their hair. Washing, brushing and cutting the hair can be a traumatic experience for the individual with Sensory Processing Disorder – so what can be done to help?man having hair shaved

Consider how Washing, Brushing and Cutting Affects them as an Individual

It is important to remember that with Sensory Processing Disorder (or Sensory difficulties for a person who has Autism) that everyone is an individual and will be affected differently – there’s not a one size fits all. You need to think about what it is that is causing them not to want their hair washed, cut or brushed – what is it about it making them feel distressed? If you can talk to them try to find out but if not you will just have to try different methods to eliminate the possible causes. For example, I know my oldest son with Asperger’s syndrome dislikes his hair being cut so much that he lets it grow for example, whereas I feel like pulling my hair out of the socket (and do often cut quite a bit off myself – this is called trichtomania and can be a sign of anxiety) because it just hurts so much. man having hair cutRemember that problems could be due to any of the senses so think about the situation in terms of them all:

The Environment where having their hair Washed, Brushed or Cut

Like most things when it comes to Sensory Processing the environment the individual is in can make such a difference. Consider the effect of noise, visuals, smells etc on them as well as what the textures are around them and how they are placed (for consideration on proprioception and vestibular senses). Make sure they are familiar with where they are having their hair done and are happy with it before attempting doing anything to the hair. Are they happier standing, sitting – or possibly even lying!? What have they got to look at? Are they content with just what is in the environment or would they benefit from being distracted by a television, games console, iPad, etc? Or maybe it is too much and they need sunglasses or to relax with an eye patch to lessen the visual overload. Is the lighting right? Would they benefit from coloured lights – or more or less lighting? Is there too much noise? Can they wear noise-reducing headphones to cancel it out? Or not enough noise? Could they have a radio on, or listen to music through some headphones? Is it the smell – is there a certain air freshener or products being used that they do not like?empty hair dressers chair and lightYou may need to slowly build up their compliance with going into this room (for example in a hairdressers); start by letting them go in and leave straight away, building up their tolerance for staying there. Take a look at different places and see which is the most suitable – some have cars children can sit in, or you may find a hairdresser who is very patient. When our oldest son with Asperger’s syndrome was small we found a hairdressers who would let him come back over a number of visits because he got so distressed trying to do it in one sitting. Also try to take with you things that will help them feel relaxed. Alternatively see if someone will come out to your home.

Things to consider to help the Individual with Sensory Processing when having their hair Brushed, Washed, or Cut

Wherever it is that the individual with Sensory Processing has their hair done there are some things that may be worth trying to think about whether they will make it easier for them:

  • Can they have advance warnings – with visual aids, social stories, videos, or watching others first? Do they know how long it will take? Have they a visual timer to help with this? As above can they have it done over several sittings?
  • Can they be distracted whilst someone is doing their hair (with a fidget toy, stress ball, iPad, etc)? Do they prefer to be in control and do it themselves (washing and brushing) – and would they benefit from a mirror (this may also be helpful if someone else is doing it too)? Or is it impossible and therefore would trying to do it whilst they sleep be a last resort option?mother and children around an ipad
  • Are they comfortable with the feel of a towel/shawl around their shoulders whilst having their hair done? Or would they benefit from a weighted lap-pad or a kick-band around the bottom of the chair whilst they have to sit?
  • Is the temperature of the water right? Are you trying to wash their hair forwards or backwards over a sink? Using a shower head or lying in a bath? Is a water spray bottle an option – or is the feel on their face unpleasant?
  • Obviously ideally when trying to brush the hair then clean hair is going to be easier, but this is not always possible. Is using dry shampoo possible? Consider the smells of the products and whether to use shampoo, conditioner or both. It may be a good idea to use leave in conditioner, Aragon oil, coconut oil, or detangler spray to make the hair easier to brush, and comb from the bottom in small sections, slowly going up to the roots. Afterwards consider tying the hair back and if possible plaiting it to avoid any further knots.
  • Different people will touch the hair/have a different pressure than others, as will different brushes and combs – can this be adjusted to try to find the right force for them? I know my teenager likes the feel of the nitty gritty comb and will only use that – so really experiment! Of course there’s a range of soft and hard brushes, combs with different spaces between the teeth and detangler brushes.open scissors
  • Do they dislike noises – so would prefer scissors over clippers? Or are they worried that their ears may be nipped? Do they need a warning when it will be noisy? And is it better to towel dry or use a hairdryer?
  • When cutting their hair consider swaddling. Our son was physically sick when the lose hair touched his skin and so a change of clothes may be a good idea.

 

Do you have any other problems or solutions when it comes to sensory issues and washing, cutting and brushing hair – please add them in the comments below. I would also love to hear if any of this has been beneficial to you.

 

Other Posts of Interest:

Hair Washing & JOHNSON’S Baby Easy-Rinse Foaming Shampoo Review

 

Brushing Teeth & Sensory Processing Disorder

National Autistic Society: Preparing for a visit to the Hairdressers

Christmas Gifts

Christmas Gifts: A Guide for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition

When it comes to buying Christmas Gifts for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition  I think that what it is easy to forget that the recipient still likes the same presents as other people. What may be different is that they may be a little more restricted in their likes and dislikes. It is important to remember that everyone is an individual, and this is definitely the case for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition. Although there are some things that seems to have a common element to them; with that in mind I asked some British Women with Asperger’s Syndrome for their thoughts on Christmas Gifts. Note that most of this will also apply to those with Sensory Processing Disorder but it was a bit of a mouthful putting both each time.Christmas Gifts

Buying Christmas Gifts for Indivudals with Autistic Spectrum Condition

I think it is important to remember that just because you like certain Christmas Gifts then this does not mean that someone else will too. Some of the women with Asperger’s Syndrome expressed how actually they really would rather not have any Christmas gifts at all, than the wrong ones. That mountains of Christmas gifts can be overwhelming – especially for those who are sensory avoiders – with all that colour being be too much! Some even prefer no gifts at all, not wanting their space to be filled with something they do not want or need. Not wanting to waste money for the sake of it. Instead why not club together with other members to buy one perfect present. However, something small and appropriate is better than spending lots of money for the sake of it.  Something homemade/handmade is a nice idea or what about an experience or day out – even better still accompany them on it to help reduce any anxiety.Hot chocolate Santa Gifts

The Christmas Gift of Alone Time

Sometimes those with Autistic Spectrum Condition may find the best Christmas Gift is that of  some alone time. This may be just to shut off from the world, to cope with a meltdown, or to relax, for example. This could be a place to hide (like a tent), or a trip away to a spa/night away, or even just back to some bath products for them to find some peace. Again how you decide on the perfect time alone will depend on the individual’s needs. Personally I need to sleep to cope with the changes that Christmas brings, it is what helps me to reset – and therefore some nice new pjs are perfect for this! (with the right textures of course, I hate those hot fluffy tops!)Christmas Gift of being alone - woman covering her eyes with a hat

Giving the Wrong Christmas Gift to the Individual with Autistic Spectrum Condition

Giving someone with autistic spectrum condition the wrong Christmas gift can be even more stressful than not getting them a present at all. They may feel that they have to pretend to like it or be called ungrateful for not being happy with the givers choice. This may ruin their Christmas as they try to hold it in until they end up having a meltdown about it. That is if it doesn’t eat away at them for months because they want to be grateful and are thrilled someone has put so much thought into it- but they really don’t like it! Often generic gifts are unwelcome and they may then hate how unwanted Christmas gifts clutter up their home. This can leave them feeling really anxious about what they are supposed to do with them and find it hard to get rid of. This could especially be the case if the gift is useful but they just have too many of them (like socks!). Again presents that interfere with their Sensory needs will be unwelcome even if well meaning – such as smells they have not chosen (shampoos, perfumes, candles, etc); foods (which may be too rich, or not spicy enough); make-up (which may not have the right texture) and jewellery (again the touch and visual being not to their liking).Christmas Gifts bottles of perfume

Christmas Gifts Guide for Someone with Autistic Spectrum Condition

Christmas Gifts Based on Special Interests

The individual with Autistic Spectrum Condition often has special interests which will make it easier in finding Christmas gifts that they will like. It may be clear what their special interest is and then you just need to ask yourself whether they already have said item related to that gift – and if so would they like another! Books about their main interest is often an item to avoid because if they wanted it then they would most likely have already read it. It may be hard to get the individual with Autistic Spectrum Condition to wait for Christmas to receive something because they may just want something when it is available (I struggle with this particular with my oldest son with Asperger’s Syndrome and his special interest of computer games, which are released around a month before Christmas!). If they don’t want a duplicate item then make it easy for them to return it with a gift receipt – which will also help make it clear that you won’t be offended if it isn’t what they wanted.

Christmas Gifts Special Interest Pokemon TopDon’t get hung up about age-appropriateness of the gifts either – if they still like Thomas the tank engine in their teens then why try to dictate that they have something else? It’s about developmental appropriateness and where that individual is at. Surely Christmas is a time for happiness. Again consider whether such an item is suitable for their sensory, verbal, gross and fine motor levels of development. For example, it does not matter how old someone is, if they are still putting everything in their mouths then small pieces of LEGO are not ideal, nor are they any good for someone without good fine motor control (although they could help with developing it). Board games may be too complex cognitively for their age even though they state that they should be able to play it – but then can it be adapted. . If it is a child that you are buying for then it is easy to check with their parents.

You may be interested in my Christmas Gift Guide for Pokemon Fans and LEGO Christmas Gift inspiration.

Clothes as Christmas Gifts for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition

Clothes can be a really complex area when considering buying Christmas gifts for someone with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition. This may be due to knowing exactly their needs – are they are sensory seeker or sensory avoider? Do they like a tight or lose fight? What is the feel of the material like? How does the visual of the item make them feel? Where are the seams and labels? Is it soft or scratchy? How much of the skin do they touch? Do they have problems with the fit (too tall/too short)? Clothes as Christmas Gifts could annoy some people with Autistic Spectrum Condition, seeing it as rude and assumptions to determine what someone else should wear, whereas someone else might love to get right the right piece (such as some over the knee socks!) – so it is really important to think about their individual likes).

line of pegs - christmas gifts for those with autistic spectrum conditionI remember my mom being surprised when I HATED the leggings she bought me with the gold spots on because I LOVED the top that was exactly the same – but to me it wasn’t and it made me feel ill. Likewise now I cannot find a pair of jeans I like for love nor money (they have changed the design and they are really tight on my legs), and I have worn jeans for as long as I can remember! I don’t like change and that is the same when it comes to clothes. I also like clothes that are practical – big pockets, zip pockets so I do not have to carry a bag with me. Plus I hate long sleeves as I get hot easily.

Practical and Sensory Christmas Gifts for those with Autistic Spectrum Condition

As I said I love things that are practical – anything that makes my life easier. That said there’s a thin line between a thoughtful useful gift and me being insulted (I would go mental if anyone bought me the pots and pans we need as it is like it is implying I should be cooking, rather than being something for me personally). You need to once again think about the individual person, especially if they have sensory needs.For example I really do like expensive shampoo, conditioner and body washes as they are things that I use anyway but have a touch more luxury (as long as they smell okay, as the wrong smells can make me feel sick). This seemed to be common with the other ladies on the Autistic Spectrum who enjoyed getting toiletries IF they were the right ones – don’t assume and buy the wrong ones. Lush products seem to be popular with their glittery colourful bath bombs, particularly as so many of the ladies with Asperger’s Syndrome found the shop hard to navigate with the overpowering of too many smells and colours, and pushy shop assistants wanting to speak to them. Again remember this will not apply to every individual with Autistic Spectrum Condition.

Christmas Gifts LightsOf course Sensory Christmas Gifts may be very welcome offerings for those with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition and could help improve their lives. Sensory enriching products include pretty lights (fairy, ones for the bath, lighting up the ceiling and walls, colour changing objects, projectors and salt/lava lamps); things with nice textures (pillows, teddy bears); a bubble machine; art equipment (visually pleasing and allowing the individual to be creative); a range of fiddle toys and noise cancelling headphones (although I just have wireless headphones and I play music through them and this works well for myself).

For children with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition some practical things that they may love (dependent on age and ability) are a trampoline, bicycle/scooter, LEGO and board games – as the former are great for getting them moving (beneficial to both sensory seekers and sensory avoiders); and the latter develops fine motor skills, patience, following instructions and even turn taking.

Getting it Right when Buying Christmas Gifts for Someone with Autistic Spectrum Condition

The biggest suggestion given for buying Christmas gifts for Someone with Sensory Processing Disorder and/or Autistic Spectrum Condition is to just ask what they like instead of assuming that they are all a hive-mind who like the same things. Many people on the Autistic Spectrum like routine and therefore changes are not welcome, so do not obsess that presents must always be surprise. Maybe have a traditional gift, that you know they like, and can give every year. Something practical like a calendar maybe (of their special interest). But then do bear in mind that if they suddenly do not receive it then this can also cause some issues.

Christmas Gifts CalendarAnother idea is to look at their wish list, that way there is still an element of surprise but in a controlled way that means they will still receive something they like. This can be done either by creating an online wishlist (like on Amazon) or they could print off specific pictures of Christmas Gifts they want. Those with Autistic Spectrum Condition may be aware that they are difficult to buy for and therefore would not be offended if you decided to play it safe with a gift card; as long as you do not get it wrong. Does anyone like being told what to do or where to shop? So make sure you know that they would appreciate a specific store to spend their gift card at. Clothes shops (see above) are usually not a good idea. Instead why not buy Gift Cards which can be used at many different places/buy a variety of things – such as Amazon gift cards or Love 2 Shop Vouchers. But do not be afraid to give money especially if it what they have asked for – as this may anger them, especially if they are trying to save up for something. Alternatively you could use a pre-paid debit card.

Opening the Christmas Gifts with Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Condition

Those with Autistic Spectrum Condition may feel uncomfortable being watched opening their Christmas Gifts. This is because people with autistic spectrum condition may struggle with emotions – including hiding their own. It might not even be anything to do with the gift itself but, as mentioned, many do not like surprises. Or it could be a case of their expression not matching what they would like to communicate. The anxiety of the “wrong present-face” may make them not want to open their presents at all. An example I was given was someone who was opening a perfectly lovely present got sticky-tape under their nail and pulled a, “ewww gross horrible!” face and was scolded for it.Christmas Gifts opening

Thank you to all the ladies with Asperger’s Syndrome who helped me to compile this article. If you have any further insights I would love to hear them. And a Merry Christmas to you all.

Related Posts of Interest:

Logan Osborne: Man with Autism Graduates with Masters Degree

Logan Osborne: Man with Autism Graduates with Masters Degree

It shouldn’t be a big deal that a man has graduated with a Masters degree but I am sure that anyone touched by autism will know how much of a battle it can be. Their little habits, rituals, anxieties and lack of health care and social skills make it all the more difficult for them.  Any parents would be proud that their child has a first degree, so to go on to gain a Masters is even more impressive. I have written previously about my oldest son who has Asperger’s Syndrome going to University and so it is really reassuring to hear of the success of Logan Osborne.

Logan Osborne Autistic Msc StudentLogan Osborne first gained a BSc(Hons) Geography at University of Brighton in 2013. Now he has an MSc in Geographical Information Systems and Environmental Management and is looking for a job in geographical information systems.

Logan’s parents want to give some comfort to others that with the right support anything can be achieved. They say that the University of Brighton’s Disability and Dyslexia team gave Logan excellent support. Logan said that he felt that he could always talk things over with them, including checking his work, if he needed help.

If you or your child is thinking of going to University and have a disability then it should be declared in order to obtain the right support.

The Disability and Dyslexia team at the University of Brighton provides one-to-one mentoring and specialist study support, advice and help with applying for funding. Contact: disability@brighton.ac.uk 01273 643799, and for more information go to: www.brighton.ac.uk/current-students/my-studies/declaring-a-disability-or-learning-difficulty

 

Wear it for Autism 2014

Wear it for Autism 2014 #Giveaway

Wear it for Autism 2014

Date: Monday 6th October 2014

Time: Doors open at 5:30pm Show Starts at 6:30pm

Venue:  Le Chinois Restaurant and Bar, Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 9NU.

Price: £15 a ticket with FREE goody bag!

Please email lisa.robins@thevines.org.uk for a ticket order form

Wear it for Autism 2014

This red carpet event is back once again after its huge success last year.

Wear it For Autism is a fashion show with a difference. All the models taking part are Mums, Dads, Grandparents and Carers – who either have autism themselves or care for those living with the condition – they are having a full makeover and pampering before taking centre-stage. All the profits will go to the registered charity Anna Kennedy Online, which supports UK families affected by autism, including providing small grants for educational and domestic resources.

Judged by Steven Smith, Angel Sinclair, Dr Pam Spurr and Maggie Paterson, Sam Tomlin, Fiona Shepherd  the Winners  in each category for 2014 are:

Mums: Ann Wright, Sharon King, Maimuna Mutaasa and Lisa Embery-Donaghy

Dads: Craig Binns and Lee Cook

Grandparent: Sandra Trotter

Family: Anne & Steven Rann

Adult with Autism: Dani Bowman

Child with Autism: Sophie Jayne Garner

Young Carers: Demi Stamp and Emma Bell

Wear it for Autism 2014

Anna Kennedy OBE said:

“The idea behind Wear It For Autism was to spoil those who usually never get a chance to treat – or even think – of themselves. Living with autism can be challenging and extremely demanding so we wanted to create a special event, that would be fun for all involved ‘ 

Anna Kennedy OBE Wear it for Autism

Supported by Models of Diversity and Pineapple Performing Arts

Celebrity Presenters this year include: Arlene Phillips CBE, Kirk Norcross, Abz, Keith Mason, Dr Pam Spurr, Amy Willerton, Steve King, Jason Leech and many more.

Sponsors are Living Autism, Miglio Jewellry, Models of Diversity, Wish Want Wear, Damsel in a Dress , Third Sector Gallery and many more.

If you would like to be a sponsor please contact anna@annakennedyonline.co.uk 

This is not a sponsored post.

Disability access uk theme parks 2013 @pinkoddy #thesensoryseeker

Disability Access Guide to UK Theme Parks

Disability access uk theme parks 2013 @pinkoddy #thesensoryseeker

With half term just around the corner you may be thinking about what to do with the children. A theme park is a good idea for Sensory Seekers that like all that movement, smells, textures, visual images etc; but sometimes it is all too much, or too much for other people (strangers do not tend to warm to a child they do not know trying to touch them, never mind punching). It is for this reason that it is well worth checking the websites to  consider what the disability access policies are. This may include proof of disability (and what documentation),  any discounts for entrance (and/or any carers), car parking facilities, and special access to the rides. There are many reasons that disability access may be required, but there have been many people taking advantage of this, and things are changing. Make sure you are clear before you leave.

We have visited a few places over 2013 and this was our experience of the Disability Access:

Disability Access Merlin

I think that the Merlin Group are top notch when it comes to providing good disability access. When a Merlin annual pass is purchased, and proof of disability is shown, then a complimentary carer’s pass will be issued on the first visit. It is transferable between carers, but cannot be used without the disabled person. Proof is considered as Disability Living Allowance (DLA),Orange/Blue badge or a letter from the GP (with photographic proof).

Disability Access Legoland Windsor

Legoland Windsor was the first place we had heard of that had good disability access. We went with ASDfriendly, an Autism support online forum, and it is here we first discovered that a day out with a disability could still be fun.

Legoland Windsor Disability Access to rides

  • FREE Carer entrance ticket.
  • Loop System for hearing impaired.
  • Some staff who can speak sign language  (look for the word ‘sign’ on their badge).
  • Assistance dogs welcome; but they cannot ride and must remain with someone at all times.
  • Designated disabled car parking for disability badge holders (parking charges still apply).
  • Disabled toilet facilities.
  • Wheelchair hire.
  • Wheelchair accessible restaurants & shops.
  • Plenty of resting areas throughout the park.
  • Awareness band (to alert staff that extra assistance may be required).

The ride access pass requires some proof that the disabled person cannot queue. Disability living allowance and/or blue/orange badges are not accepted because they do not show what the condition is. The disability must mean that they “do not understand the concept of queuing, have difficulties with everyday social interaction, have a limited capacity to follow instruction or to understand others emotional feelings or expressions, and may become agitated or distressed having to wait for periods of time.”

Photo evidence is required, we took a passport.  At least one helper is essential, and has to be over the age of 14, or over 16 if the disabled person does not meet the height restriction. Up to 3 carers are allowed with the disabled person and can be rotated. Wheelchair users do not require a ride access pass.

Further info in the guide

Disability Access THORPEPARK

THORPEPARK‘s disability access makes it fair on all ride users by issuing  disabled ride user a card. When the card is presented at the exit a time is given that you can come back, as if you were queuing, but without having to physically stand in a queue. We saw this on the big rides at Disneyland Paris too.

Note we did not use their Disability help as we were given FastPasses so for further information on Disability access at THORPEPARK please see this post by My Life My Son My Way.

Disability Access Paultons Park

To avoid discrimination the entry price was the same for disabled as non-disabled visitors. To be fair I think a lot of Paultons Park  is the magic of Peppa Pig World, and a lot of that can be soaked up without even setting foot on a ride.

They have a Queue Assist Scheme, with which they DID accept a Disability Living Allowance letter and gave our disabled son a wrist band and card – which allowed up to 3 carers (note some rides had different rules on carer ratios and the disabled person always had to go on the ride). The card allowed him to go on each ride once, and was hole-punched as he did. This means that if he wanted to go on the same ride twice he had to then queue. We were fortunate that our son was okay with this but know how those with Autism could get quite obsessive about a ride and then have a meltdown for not being able to go back on as they are unable to queue. I do understand that lines need to be drawn though as many young children find it hard to queue without seeing someone go on the same ride more than once without the need for queuing.

Disability Access FlamingoLand

At Flamingoland there is a discounted admission price of £20 each, for a disabled person and their carer (total £40 instead of £60).

With proof of disability (DLA accepted, but photographic proof needed) a wrist band can be obtained, to allow riders to avoid the queue, and go through the exit (with a maximum of 2 carers). When we went we were told that if the disability was physically obvious, then they would not require further “proof”.

This is not a sponsored post. I was, however, given complimentary tickets in return for reviews on Pinkoddy’s blog. All thoughts and opinions are my own.