Children & Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine that has been used for over 200 years. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’. In other words, the ailments are treated by tiny doses of natural substances that in larger amounts would produce symptoms of that ailment.

“The holistic nature of homeopathy means each person is treated as a unique individual and their body, mind and emotions are all considered in the management and prevention of disease. Taking all these factors into account a homeopath will select the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health to stimulate their own healing ability.” – British Homeopathic Association

Homeopathy has been a huge part of Neiva’s life ever since she was a baby. She responds so well to the remedies. I was introduced to homeopathy by my sister in law after watching how well her children responded to them. If you would like to know more about homeopathy and especially homeopathy in children, I can highly recommend the following books below that I refer to often. What I cant find in one I will almost always find in the other. They make a pretty good team.

 

How to use Homeopathy

It is perfectly achievable for parents with very little experience in homeopathy to prescribe a remedy to an unwell child with everyday common ailments. The key is to be led by the verbal and physical symptoms the child is presenting. Ask your child questions such as

  • where does it hurt?
  • which side?
  • what does the pain feel like?
  • is it worse for sitting up or lying down?
  • what circumstances led to there feeling ill?
  • when does it feel better? when does it feel worse?


Characteristics to observe 

  • temperature
  • perspiration
  • sleep pattern
  • most comfortable position
  • need for fresh air/adverse to cold
  • thirst for hot or cold drinks?
  • appetite
  • stool & urine colour texture and regularity
  • energy
  • colour and appearance in general

The more questions are answered the easier you will be led to a specific remedy with specific characteristics. At this stage, you will be able to select the appropriate remedy.

Potency Selection

Homeopathy remedies consists of three dosages; 6th, 30th and 200th. The general rule of thumb is the lower the potency the more frequently you will need to give the remedy.

  • 6th: This is the lowest potency with a gentle and steady action.
  • 30th: This is a medium potency (generally the dose that is effective in most cases)
  • 200th: This is the most powerful potency and generally given in situations of acute pain or intense symptoms (for example for a high fever Belladonna is generally given in 200th potency).


How to give the remedy

The remedies will be in the form of a small sugar pill. Neiva takes them this way although as a baby she took them in soft tablets that dissolve on the tongue. There are important things to remember when giving a remedy:

  • the remedy should go straight into the mouth and must not be touched by hand. The best way is to use the cap of the bottle pour one tablet into the cap and then straight into the mouth.
  • do not give the remedy 10 minutes either side of eating or drinking
  • do not give your child two different remedies at the same time

For acute symptoms, give the remedy every couple of hours.

How to store the remedies

Unlike conventional medicines, there isn’t a worry of accidental overdose and the remedies are completely natural. However, from the beginning it is important to stress to the child that these are a form of natural medicine and should be treated with respect. Store the remedies in a dark cool place away from strong smells.

The remedies we use are Ainsworths. You can find them here.

For more information on homeopathy please visit the British Homeopathy Association here.

Hyperlexia Awareness Day

2 April 2017 is #worldautismday and over the past week I have seen and read some really heartwarming ‘victory over adversity’ stories and loved reading the wonderful work schools and charities are doing to raise awareness.

What I haven’t read about is Hyperlexia and it’s not surprising. Hyperlexia research is conflicted. There is also an overlap in hyperlexia between autistic and gifted children which often results in a misdiagnosis in both areas.

I want to use this platform and this special day to highlight the three types of hyperlexia and raise awareness generally.

types of hyperlexia

There are three specific types of Hyperlexia:

Type I: Neurotypical child that is just an early reader.

Type II: Children on the autism spectrum that demonstrate early reading as a splinter skill.

Type III: Very early readers who are not on the autism spectrum though there are some “autistic-like” traits and behaviors which gradually fade as the child gets older.

signs of hyperlexia

  • A precocious ability to read words far above what would be expected at a child’s age
  • Child may appear gifted in some areas and extremely deficient in others
  • Significant difficulty in understanding verbal language
  • Difficulty in socialising and interacting appropriately with people
  • Abnormal and awkward social skills
  • Specific or unusual fears
  • Fixation with letters or numbers
  • Echolalia (Repetition or echoing of a word or phrase just spoken by another person)
  • Memorisation of sentence structures without understanding the meaning
  • An intense need to keep routines, difficulty with transitions, ritualistic behavior

Additional Symptoms:

  • Normal development until 18-24 months, then regression
  • Listens selectively / appears to be deaf
  • Strong auditory and visual memory
  • Self-stimulatory behavior (hand flapping, rocking, jumping up and down)
  • Think in concrete and literal terms, difficulty with abstract concepts
  • Auditory, olfactory and / or tactile sensitivity
  • Difficulty answering “Wh–” questions, such as “what,” “where,” “who,” and “why”

 

my child may have hyperlexia what do I do?

Firstly, read read and read some more! Gather as much information as you can find on the subject. Yes, you will realise very quickly that information on hyperlexia very sparse, so here are a list of books and web links that have helped me on our journey so far:

Hyperlexia Overview: Judy & David http://judyanddavid.com/cha/strategies.pdf

I would start with this one. This is where everything really clicked for us. The generic strategies we were then using for autism were very hit and miss. Some traits related to Neiva when others didn’t and it felt like we were looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. The day we started these specific strategies for hyperlexia was the day we saw real results, right from the start.

And Next Comes L: Dyan Robson www.andnextcomesl.com

Dyan is a real trail blazer for hyperlexia. When her son received a hyperlexia and hypernumeracy diagnosis in 2014 she knew nothing of the subject and had to study and research everything herself. Her website has really been a lifesaver in terms of information, strategies and practical help to improve communication between parent and child. I visit her website almost daily and it has really been a source of real encouragement for me. Dyan also has a support group on Facebook which again has been a huge help and, despite the time difference between here in the U.K. and Dyan in Canada, she responds to any questions we may have.

Books on Hyperlexia

  • Reading Too Soon – Susan M Miller
  • When Babies Read – Audra Jensen
  • The Anti Romantic Child – Priscilla Gilman
  • The Einstein Syndrome – Thomas Sowell


Complete List of Online Reading/Groups


Raise Your Concerns With Your GP: You may be one of the lucky ones that walks into the GP’s office and he is familiar with the term Hyperlexia. However, most likely, prepare for the realisation that the first time your GP hears the word will be from you. This is ok. It just means that you will have to ensure that you are well read up on the subject. If you can, take copies of the above strategies with you.  This applies to any health professional you are currently dealing with. It also applies to school teachers. The more informed care and health professionals are, the more they are able to help.

view hyperlexia as the gift it is

One of my favourite sayings is “when you look at a field of dandelions you either see a field of weeds or a field of wishes”.

True, there are days when a one sided conversation takes its toll, there are days when I repeat myself over and over again only for her to do exactly what I asked her not to do 10 minutes later. There are days when I avoid social situations because I’m not strong enough to protect her from the frowns and looks. There are days where I question my ability to be her champion. There are days when I know I can’t reach her she’s away in her far away place and I have to wait for her to come back. There are days when my patience is tested to the absolute limit only to look into her confused eyes and realise she isn’t understanding my question. There are days when I just go to bed early exhausted from the day wishing it was over, wanting a next day to start a fresh. But….

Then there are the days when I look at my beautiful girl when she gently talks to a ladybird or is beckoning a bee to be her friend. Then there are days when she does get that faraway look and we are suddenly transported away into space, under the ocean, jumping over clouds, on the most amazing train ride with Enid, singing round a campfire, her imagination knows no bounds. Then there are days when I hear her beautiful soft voice mimicking voices she’s heard somewhere only once and stored it away perfectly when she feels like a little humor. Then there are the days when she sings, oh my – her singing…. and my heart melts. Then there are the days when she needs just another story and gently holds my chin to get my attention. Then there are the days where she lets out a relieved sigh and gives me a huge smile when she is in nature, in her happy place away from the noise pollution that hurts her eyes and ears so much. Then there are the days when she reads a book for the first time like she’s read it a thousand.  Then there are the days when she recites her two times table with ease or sings the alphabet backwards because she’s bored of singing it forward.

I love that she is gifted in areas far advanced then her peers;

I love that she makes me forget to check my phone;

I love that she counts the stars and instinctively knows where the moon is each night;

I love that she treats everyone the same and has no concept of meanness in the playground;

I love that she sees the beauty in nature, a caterpillar, a leaf, a cloud;

I love that she has made me slow down and notice these things:

I love everything she is and everything she will be. The world is a better place for her being in it.

Neiva, we love you to your beloved moon and back.

Social Stories, Sequencing & The Supermarket

For the most part Neiva is such a laid back and quiet natured girl. However, when anxiety strikes, its strikes sudden and loud. Anxiety for Neiva is most common when we are at a supermarket. Most people assume it’s a sensory overload of noise but noise isn’t something that worries Neiva. Its busy crowds.

As she looks older than her tender age of five, random loud outbursts can be really embarrassing. To a random passerby, in that moment, she can look like a child with a bratty attitude. She certainly isnt that. Her true personality is anything but.

I don’t need parenting approval from strangers but I certainly don’t want someone going away talking about the “spoilt child in the supermarket today…” when it is something that she has no control over. I also needed to know the difference between a outburst due to stress and anxiety and a deliberate willful disobedient one.

We needed to make some adjustments and like everything else in life, its all about the preparation.

  • First we changed supermarkets from a big store to a smaller one. Neiva is very rarely overwhelmed in our smaller supermarket. It’s familiar, quiet and she knows where everything is.
  • I always try to have a list with me to make sure our shop is done quickly and efficiently.
  • We always try to do the same routine from going through the same door to the same path of aisles (as it’s a small store, it doesn’t take us long)
  • Neiva is in charge of the pull along basket and I get her to look for the things we need which distracts her for a little while and if I’m really organised that day (and because of her reading ability), there may be a written list.
  • We will always finish at the same bank of self service checkouts by the magazines so she can go look at them whilst I quickly run my shopping through at the side of her.


Social Stories & Sequencing

 Social Stories are great for preparing a child for any regular real life situation.

Using these stories and sequences she is able to know what’s coming next, eliminating any frustration and calming any anxiety. I made one especially for our supermarket trip and will add more destinations as and when I feel there’s a need.

You will see from the story that I haven’t written anything in the last box. This is for when we have time to go to the cafe afterwards. Neiva would be able to read anything I put in the last box and would then be expecting to go to the cafe every single time. By keeping it clear gives me the flexibility on days where I am pressed for time.

It is only a quickly made basic visual and because it’s made of card and paper it’s a bit scruffy and sorry looking. I will  update this shopping social story for a new one when my weeks of hinting to Paul for a laminator has finally paid off!

For more information on social stories click here. For help creating social stories specifically catered to children with hyperlexia click here

Hyperlexia, Pooh Bear & Other Stories

Hyperlexia –  A precocious, self-taught ability to read words which appears before age five, and/or an intense fascination with letters, numbers, shapes…accompanied with significant difficulty in understanding and developing oral language.

A self taught reader before the age of five has got to be a great thing, right? It is great and we are immensely proud of her, however this advanced reading ability is in direct contrast with her difficulties understanding spoken language.

Unlike other children, hyperlexic children don’t learn language in the usual way. The way a typical child would learn language is a progression of sounds to words and then to sentences. Instead, hyperlexic children, who have amazing visual and auditory memories, memorise phrases, sentences and even entire conversations. It’s this memory that then helps them to learn language.

The repetition of phrases and sentences without understanding the meaning is known as “Echolalia” and is something Neiva has been doing most of the time when communicating her thoughts and feelings with us. We are so glad she has used echolalia to communicate with us, especially in the early days. It helped us work out what she was trying to say.

The majority of the time, when Neiva uses echolalia, fortunately, it is in context. However, we are using the technique of giving her key phrases to memorise to try and weed out the odd few comfort phrases she would repeat that have no context. For example, when she was frustrated or angry, she would say “snap! I win again!” (A Charlie & Lola phrase) and stamp her foot. When she does this, we know to tell her:

  • What the emotion she is feeling (“Neiva is feeling frustrated” or “Neiva is feeling angry/cross”)
  • What she should say instead (“I am feeling cross” or “I am feeling frustrated”)
  • What she needs to do to feel better (take a deep breath and blow the angry away/give mummy a hug)

This ritual is crucial for her to remember. The more she does it, the easier it will be for her to communicate that emotion to us and more importantly, know how to deal with that particular emotion independently.

Her love of letters and numbers has followed her to the choice of films she watches. Winnie the Pooh is a particular family favourite. We watch it often on our family movie nights. It is so gentle and simple with catchy songs.

What I love about the 2011 film, is that words in the book play a role in the story. Neiva loves this. I do feel the storybook setting that features throughout play a major role in loving this film.

Just tonight, after a bedtime story, we snuggled down to watch Pooh at Neiva’s request, laughing loudly at the part where he is so hungry, everything he sees turns to honey, including the words of the book the narrator is reading “honey honey honey honey honey”.

As I am typing this, Neiva is almost asleep. The credits for the film are still rolling. (We have to watch the credits roll up until the end, another hyperlexia trait) She stirs “Pooh bear again please mummy” she sighs quietly and slowly starts to sleep gently.

“Night night my little bear”

Can Our Children Be Friends?

Children are so perceptive in ways we adults really are not. They are also very tolerant of differences, more than we ever give them credit for. They ask the most honest of questions purely out of curiosity and complete openness.

That said, I’ve seen situations where children have tried to make friends with Neiva and been really upset when they get no response, and then asked why, usually very loudly, in front of the poor parent, who then feels awkward and gets in an unnecessary fluster. In all honesty, if the roles were reversed, I would feel exactly the same in their shoes. However, it really doesn’t take a complicated explanation. Simple and honest always works best.

A Quick Get Out Clause
Sometimes, during play dates or at the park, there just isn’t time to properly sit and explain to your child why Neiva is acting differently, “shes not listening to me” “she wont play with me” “she wont stop singing” these are common complaints I hear regularly in a play situation. Kids themselves are in play mode and just want a simple answer to a question. So for those occasions, any of these quick responses will suffice:

  • “say excuse me and make sure she can hear you”
  • “maybe she wants to play by herself”
  • “why dont you join in and sing”

And for the ultimate get out clause and the response I love the most…. “why dont you ask her mummy” I love this one because it completely takes the pressure off the parent.

Making it lighthearted and straightforward is a great sense of relief for any parent with a child with any kind of reduced social interaction. To be honest, I could quite easily become a hermit and never venture out, it would be so much easier. No anticipation or dread, no panic. That would certainly make life easier for me but it would not be helping Neiva in the long term. Neiva loves the park, she loves being outside, I would be depriving her of her own little piece of happiness just so I could avoid potential confrontation and I’m not prepared to do that. Ill do it because I love her completely and her needs must come first.

What if your child asks about autism and you have the time to explain in more detail?

Explaining Autism to a Child (the long-winded version)
Below is a list of simple ways to explain autism to your child.

  • It is not a disease and is not contagious. You cannot catch autism. (Some children do have this worry)
  • They may not talk very much but that doesnt mean they dont understand what you are saying
  • They may have to play with the same toys over and over again. This is ok, it makes them feel calm and safe.
  • Some do not see, hear, or feel things the same way we do, loud busy noises, sights and sounds may be too much for them.

The “Statement” Technique
With Neiva, she doesnt understand “wh” questions. What, where, who and why. If you want Neiva to hear you, give her clear simple commands. Always start by saying ‘Neiva, look at me” (and when she looks) rather than ask her a question say what you want her to do ‘lets play in my bedroom/here is a drink,/here is a biscuit/lets get our shoes on and play outside” (her cousins are naturally particularly good at this)

Using statements rather than questions hasn’t come easy to us so don’t expect your child to get it first time. Its the effort that counts.

I have the ability to see the world differently while loving everyone in it the same, what’s your superpower? – Neiva

Playdate Interaction Winners!
rather than try and converse, if she is playing with bricks for example, sit alongside her and copy what shes doing and talk generally about what you are doing “today I am building a very tall tower, it has 12 bricks and the colours are….”

  • make sure she can hear you
  • short simple statements (not questions)
  • join in with her singing (I hope you know all your nursery rhymes)
  • play ball catch (shes really good)


Just a little side note for parents/adults
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Neiva’s comprehension. She understands and takes in everything she hears whether its directly spoken to her or not. The temptation is to speak to her as though she doesn’t understand English, slow and loud (and even in one instance, with a slight accent) Please don’t do this. Talk to her in a normal tone of voice. As long as she can hear you and is not distracted by loud noises or in a busy room with lots of different voices and sounds and smells, she will try and respond. I think as humans we associate response with listening, so if we don’t get a response we conclude that person isn’t interested in what we have to say. Unfortunately, responding to conversation isnt something that comes naturally to an child on the spectrum. In the same way we have had to learn to read count and write, Neiva is having to be taught how to read social cues. She will get there, like learning anything new, it will just take time.

Finally, we really do appreciate the effort our family and friends are doing already to communicate with Neiva. We know that you love her very much and we are very grateful for that. Thank you.

L x

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