How to care for someone who cannot tell you where hurts
This has been my most requested post and there seems no better time to write it than as we enter the colder months, amidst the coronavirus pandemic. I am a mother of five and two of my sons have profound non-verbal autism with high sensory sensitivity. Written below, is how we aim to help our little chaps when they are under the weather.
- Change the environment around them
Dealing with the environment around my child is easier than trying to change what they wish to do. When they are ill, they can revert to a more fundamental version of their autism and years of progress can temporarily dissolve away until they recover.
Our house lights can be controlled with our phones (and wall switches) to dim and change colour. We also have tilting window shutters. This means that we can change the degree of light or ambience, as well as air flow, to create a peaceful place for them. In this season of shortened days, we have programmed the lights to recreate dawn and dusk, gradually rising and dimming at the times of day that they should wake or feel sleepy.
I use an atomiser with warm water and lavender oil to soothe them, or eucalyptus and tea tree oil to help with decongesting their noses if they catch a cold.
Music can alter the ambience of a room immediately. We keep our music device well out of reach, as autism can create an urge to play the same few seconds of a tune over and over again. There is a great post on how to rig up an old iPhone here: Tip For Playing Music For Children, Particularly Children with Autism.
2. Soothing warm (or cold) blankets to hold
My sons will not abide anyone trying to help blow their noses and I cannot give them tissues, as they both cannot resist shredding them into tiny pieces. Instead, I keep a large stack of soft baby muslin cloths. I warm these in the tumble drier or on radiators and then add Albas oil or my sleep oil mix to them and they will cuddle these happily, and instinctively dab at their noses.
3. A safe place to rest
My older autistic son finds head colds very bothering as if something is stuck there and this can provoke him to make sudden head movements. I have found the best way to help him is to surround him with a giant duvet and cushions in what I call his “get better nest”.
4. Hugging and consoling a sensory-sensitive child
My little sons often do not like to be cuddled or held if they have fevers – their sensory autism means that changes in body temperature can feel extreme and any touch adds to either the heat or the cold. I can help them by spraying them with a perfume atomiser of cooled sterilised water that we always have handy in the fridge if they are hot, or hugging them through warmed blankets if they are cold.
(In summer months I create Aloe Vera Ice Cubes with Added Dinosaurs )
5. Water Therapy
My older autistic son is running a temperature, he likes to spend time in the shower, where the water brings his temperature down and the steam helps clear his sinuses.
My younger son is wary of getting water in his eyes, but does have a fascination with running water in general – so I can usually get him to sit in a bath and play with a running tap, whilst I create a lavender steam for him in the nearby sink or little bowl.
6. Taking Medicine
In preparation for them taking medicine, I have helped my sons get used to the oral syringe included with most child liquid medicines. I fill the syringe with water and a touch of honey for a similar consistency to let them practise. If they ever need to take medicine, at least they are familiar with the process of using the syringe.
Is there anything you can add to this list that helps you and your loved ones? I’d love to read your comments below.
Wishing you and your family a safe and healthy winter time
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