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WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT – Giuliana Wheater

WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT – Giuliana Wheater

 

WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT

 

 

So often – far too often- I listen to children & their families tell me how stimming is suppressed, stopped & even punished in some “learning environments”.

 

Because those teaching our children have not had the adequate training about autism and other neurodivergences, negative attention is drawn to the stimmimg.

 

Stimming, being “different”, can also become the subject of shame, humiliation, punishment & bullying.

 

But for autistic people, those with ADHD, PDA, ODD, & Tourette Syndrome, just to name a few, stimming is actually ESSENTIAL because that is the child self regulating in an an environment which is completely overwhelming.

 

 

Sometimes all the masking simply gets too much & at this point stimming could very well prevent a total meltdown.

 

Children who stim don’t need to be “fixed” because they aren’t broken. They are taking their nervous systems out of flight or fight and putting them back into the parasympathetic or relaxed & rested state.

 

Harmful stimming such as biting or head banging obviously need to be re-directed into healthier and less harmful replacement therapies (HRT’s) such as deep pressure massage points, acupressure points, breathing exercises or clenching & squeezing the fists.

 

But harmless stims, which are just repetitive movements or vocalisations REALLY HELP the child. They not only regulate the nervous system but can act as self expression & are immensely soothing.

 

If a child is dysregulated, they cannot process reason or consequences. 

 

The frontal lobe which contains all our higher or executive brain functions just shuts down.

 

The emotional brain or amygdala/ fear centre flicks the flight or fight switch on.

 

The hippocampus (memory & learning) is severely compromised.

 

What NEEDS to change are expectations & ideas about how children “should be”.

 

 

Children have a far greater chance of reaching their full potential when they are part of a system that focuses on a child’s needs rather than their behaviour & performance.

 

If this was part of teacher training, that learning would then be passed down to ALL pupils in the class & only then do we begin to REALLY achieve full inclusion.

 

Every time we connect & empathise with a child, their brain gets absolutely flooded with feel-good hormones & neurotransmitters.

 

This then builds or strengthens MILLIONS of neuropathways.

 

This in turn makes it much easier for them to learn , to stay in a classroom, feel they belong, regulate, empathise, create & make good decisions.

 

 

So the next time anyone is told their child has been “naughty” for stimming, please put them in touch with me or share this article with them.

 

Look after yourselves & each other,

 

 Giuliana xx

 

Giuliana Wheater BA Hons, MCMA

 

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

https://youtube.com/@giulianawheaterrainbowkids6329?si=3yFIsUWnPdBVvf-R

WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT – Giuliana Wheater

Delicious Dopamine: The superpower hormone – Giuliana Wheater

Delicious Dopamine: The superpower hormone

 

The neurotransmitter Dopamine is my absolute favourite!

 

It is the superpower that brings you pleasure, reward, focus, concentration, motivation, attention & drive. It gives you that feeling of get up and go, being on top of the world and able to cope with anything.

 

Children with ADHD, ADD, PDA, EFD, and for some people on the autism spectrum, their brains do not produce enough dopamine. Hence they are not wilful or naughty – these are not “conduct disorders “ as the government still call them. It is the way their brains are simply differently wired.

 

Those with anxiety, depression, any sort of mental health illness or challenge will also very often be deficient in dopamine.

 

Those with disabilities or different abilities are 2-6x more likely to pick up additional mental health issues … and those were the statistics before Covid.

 

This week I am sharing some yoga poses to naturally stimulate your dopamine. I’ve also included a little massage and acupressure for those of you who do like touch.

 

These techniques are so easily accessible &! are inclusive of everyone regardless of situation, budget, disability, different ability – and for those of you who are neurotypical too.

 

So have fun with these and let’s begin to take charge of our own mental health during these fearful and uncertain times.

 

Let’s give everything that’s happening out there a good kick and fill ourselves with this superpower!!

 

WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT – Giuliana Wheater

ANTICIPATING & HANDLING MELTDOWNS – Giuliana Wheater

ANTICIPATING & HANDLING MELTDOWNS

 

Here is a neuroscientific & psychological fact : Every single one of our trillions of cells in our bodies react to everything your mind says.

 

They also react to everything other people say to us, especially if it is repeated more than 20 times.

 

It’s part of how our neurological pathways are built.

 

 

Being autistic in a still very mainstream world, was described to me once as being forced to be a lobster when you’re a human being. It is stifling, limiting & you have to bury every single part of who you are just to appear “normal”.

 

 

No wonder mental health co-morbidities such as depression, OCD, anxiety & even psychosis, trichollotomania ( hair pulling, skin picking) are 2-6x more likely for autistics.

 

 

Continual masking & existing in survival/fight or fight mode leads to autistic hangover, then burnout, then meltdown & worst case scenario, shutdown.

 

 

Some days it’s just SO hard trying to survive another day as a lobster.

 

Sometimes you’re just far too exhausted to fight.

 

Brain fog, suppressing your stims, over stimming, not asking for help & pretending not to be overstimulated ( which in itself leads to burn out ), the inability to focus or make decisions, feeling easily angered, heightened senses, visual overstimulation are all signs of an imminent meltdown.

 

 

When your child ( or yourself ) has a meltdown, like all behaviour it’s communication. It’s saying give me some time and some patience too.

 

It won’t be long until I come back to you.

 

I just need to recharge and that’s ok.

 

I desperately need a break.

 

I need to step off this overwhelming world for a short time to just be me.

 

It’s so lonely in this world where I am not understood, where I’m told that my traits are flaws ; a world that preaches inclusion but segregates, separates, judges and limits me.

 

 

So when your child has a meltdown, as heartbreaking as it is, hold that space for them. When children’s emotions are high, their logic & language are low.

 

Don’t try to reason with them.

 

Just connect with them, hold that space and “be”.

Focus more in those moments on who your child is rather than what your child does.

 

 

Always remember that whatever the neurotypical world tries to brainwash your cells with, you are raising a child, not fixing a problem.

 

 

Sometimes we are assigned mountains to show others that they can be moved.

 

Our children face daily mountains of ignorance, isolation, limited beliefs, judgment & a chronic lack of expectation.

 

 

So if they want to hurl their climbing gear to the ground occasionally & just take time out, they will soon pick up their climbing sticks again & show others that mountains can & are being moved.

 

 

My journey with my own son is living proof of that.

 

And the reason why I have dedicated my life to helping others break those barriers.

 

 

Take care,

 

 

Giuliana xx 

 

 

 

 

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

 

https://youtube.com/@giulianawheaterrainbowkids6329?si=R3GqwcsaB8YSdKIr

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/482455567249684/?ref=share_group_link

WHY STIMMING IS SO IMPORTANT – Giuliana Wheater

STILL THE MIND 🧘🏽‍♂️ – Giuliana Wheater

STILL THE MIND 🧘🏽‍♂️

 

So many autistic/neurodivergent children hit meltdown.

 

It’s heartbreaking for us .

 

It’s heartbreaking for them.

 
 

 

And meltdowns continue in various ways into adulthood.

 

They don’t just magically disappear when you turn 18.

 

Autistic children become autistic adults.

 

 

Trying to blend in with a neurotypical world is exhausting. I often smile wryly when I hear about parents or employees pushing for “reasonable adjustments” : autistic people are making HUGE and often unreasonable adjustments every single minute of every day.

 

 

This leads to autistic hangover, autistic meltdown, and finally autistic shutdown.

 

 

Burying every aspect of who you are is beyond exhausting, very frustrating and distressing.

 

Burying all that fear, anxiety, dread , so many bottled up emotions including anger , deep in your gut causes not just poor mental health but also gut and elimination issues.

 

The gut is the second or enteric brain; the seat of meltdowns, dread, anxiety and anger.

 

 

Intrinsically linked to our first or cognitive brain, the two are talking to each other via the vagus nerve continually, even when you are asleep.

 

 

This yoga pose is a deeply restful, grounding and nurturing pose.

It is wonderful to do for a couple of minutes every morning to quiet the mind, clear the brain and ease whatever you are storing in your gut.

 

 

It pushes the dopamine ( the neurotransmitter got attention, focus, perspective, concentration and motivation from your gut into your brain.

 

 

Our gut also produces 90% of our serotonin ( the neurotransmitter for mental health : happiness, confidence & self esteem).

 

 

Not to sound too nerdy, but the melatonin we need to regulate sleep, mood and aggression is made from serotonin so that is boosted too.

 

So it is really effective to do regularly each evening before bed too.

 

It really doesn’t need to take long !

 

 

Closing down the body in this “Child’s Pose” also stimulates oxytocin – the neurotransmitter with which babies fill when they are breastfeeding. It’s the ULTIMATE in love and nurture.

 

It also stimulates our emotional intelligence.

 

 

This yoga pose, when practised regularly, is a very effective and proactive method to quiet the mind and soothe the gut.

 

 

If someone has ready hit meltdown, they won’t feel like doing this.

 

By being proactive we can help to prevent or at least lessen the frequency of meltdowns.

 

 

As parents, carers and teachers living or working with SEN it is a really good practice to get into.

 

We can also get frayed, frustrated and yes, traumatised too.

 

 

Parents of autistic children often have what’s called secondary PTSD as a result of having to watch their children be misunderstood, not supported in the right way and the continual fight to achieve every small step for their child.

 

 

So do this easy pose together and release all these DELICIOUS happy and coping chemicals. It will go you the world of good.

 

And it feels simply gorgeous too !

 

 

Take care,

 

See you next week,

 

Giuliana Wheater BA Hons MCMA

 

 

https://www.therapiesforspecialneeds.co.uk/

 

https://youtube.com/@giulianawheaterrainbowkids6329?si=IQGbnaW9SLOXrOLw

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

 

ENGAGING YOUR AUTISTIC CHILD IN SOCIAL INTERACTION

ENGAGING YOUR AUTISTIC CHILD IN SOCIAL INTERACTION

ENGAGING YOUR AUTISTIC CHILD IN SOCIAL INTERACTION 

As parents, one of the biggest worries concerning our autistic children is the isolation which being neurodivergent brings. So often I meet adults who share with me that the worst and most disabling aspect of their lives is the loneliness. I’ve also had young adults tell me that they don’t want to always be lonely because life would be unbearable and they wouldn’t want to be here.

Wherever I do talks or trainings I am always asked by parents and carers what they can do to help children interact and play with others. Just to reassure you, many small children often begin exploring through play on their own and want things on their own terms. Sharing is a common skill to learn for all children of all abilities. But what can we do when our children really do struggle to engage with others ?

In my experience as a mum to 4 neurodiverse children and as a professional with almost 20 years experience, I would advise that tapping into something your child loves is a great place to start. Begin to play with them as a parent first. For instance if it’s trains or dinosaurs, musical instruments or building blocks that they adore, just get down on the floor with them and copy how they are playing. Put them in charge. Then slowly introduce your own ideas such as adding a bridge or an engine house if they are really into trains for example. I find this to be a really successful way to sow the seeds of the idea of playing and sharing play with other children.

With music I have done the same. I have copied the child and the noises they make which immediately gets their attention. I’ve often made huge break throughs in this way. Then after a few sessions I might introduce softer playing of an instrument and that gorgeous exploration through play starts to grow as they then copy me. If you make any activity you share COMPLETELY child-led, you build that essential trust, that communication, and the doors into their works beautifully open.

If your child is very sensory, set up floor or table play using sand, water beads, rainbow rice ( using food colouring) and water. Then just add cups, spoons or pans. After you have played with your child in this way, it introduces them to playing with others. Tables full of fidget toys can also help.

Many professionals are now urging parents and teachers to encourage sensory play as a part of the daily routine. Routine for autistic children is an incredibly important factor in their development. Adding sensory play into their daily routine helps them to process information, including atmosphere and surroundings and help them to become more comfortable in social situations.

Playful activities such as rough and tumble play, which are very physical can also help tremendously. Activities that involve jumping up and down, squatting, climbing, throwing and balancing stimulate gross motor skills as well as providing your child to explore their environment, and interact with other children. Best of all, this leads to playing with neurotypical children also, so they will begin to learn from each other in the most natural and inclusive way.

All children need all the warmth and advice they can get, but our differently wired children need these things even more. They need to feel they belong and the earlier this happens the better. It’s within human beings to be social; it’s part of who we are. No one should be excluded and as Einstein himself said, the best way to access education is through play.

I really hope this helps.

If you’d like to have more ideas, I share lots of ideas and activities every week ( almost daily ) on my public Facebook groups https://www.facebook.com/groups/rainbowtherapieskidsandfamilies/?ref=share_group_link

https://www.facebook.com/groups/482455567249684/?ref=share_group_link

Thad care everyone and I’ll see you next week.

Lots of love,

Giuliana

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHILDREN INSTEAD OF “HOW WAS SCHOOL?”

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHILDREN INSTEAD OF “HOW WAS SCHOOL?”

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR CHILDREN INSTEAD OF “HOW WAS SCHOOL?”

For most parents, including those whose children are neurotypical, asking “How was school today?” vary often results in “Nothing” or “Same as usual”. For parents of neurodiverse children, those kids have already given every last ounce of their energy usually in just trying to survive.
The last thing they want to talk about is school, especially after  a day spent wlth either frequently being told off, misunderstood or totally masking every part of who they are, just to get by & appear “normal”.
   
As I read recently, that prolonged masking, which actually leads to autistic hangover, meltdown & then shut down, is like forcing a human being to be a lobster. 
 
I have found with all 4 of my neurodiverse children as well as the literally thousands of others I have worked with for over 16 years, that there are far more engaging, fun & open ended questions to encourage them to open up about their day. Not only does this engage them but even more vitally, it’s a mental health thermometer to help you know where exactly they are “at”. 
 
If a child doesn’t feel like talking, or is non verbal, encourage them to journal their day with similar encouraging journal prompts. If they are younger children, get them to draw & colour their day! 
 
So often when I work in children’s homes or residential colleges, I might arrive early while they are all eating & at times the silence has said so much. As a society since Covid we have literally become so “contactless”, so separate from each other, so inside our own bubbles. 
 
The statistics for mental health have shot up to dangerously high levels, so reach out, communicate, touch base & keep on top of feelings, including your own, with some of the ideas attached. 
  
 
I really hope this helps. 
 
 
See you next week! 
 
Lots of love, 
 
Giuliana xx 
 
 
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