The autumnal germs have made the rounds at school (I’ll spare the finer details) so for the last couple days Neiva has been home. While she is thriving at school and loves to be there, part of me is doing a little happy dance that she is home for extra snuggles.
Neiva adores Charlie & Lola. When she was younger, she would only communicate with us using echolalia (repeating long phrases and sentences using visual and/or auditory memory) copying Lola’s unusually unique phrases and mimicking her pretty little accent, something she still has now. (We videoed her reaction to Charlie & Lola one month shy of her 2nd birthday. You can see it here. It is just so cute. She has the cutest giggle and still laughs hysterically at this particular part of the episode. I still cant understand why it makes her laugh so much.
In this edition of Charlie & Lola (November) magazine, we spied a recipe for apple muffins. Given our free and easy day we decided to make them. They are super easy and if you are like me, not ready to give up on Autumn just yet, they make the perfect mid morning snack.
You will need:
250g self raising flour
100g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
125g milk (we used almond milk)
2 apples grated
Heat the oven to 180c and line a tray with muffin cases
Mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar
In a separate bowl mix the eggs and milk
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well
Finally add the grated apple
Divide equally into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.
They turned out so well and the kitchen smells all warm and autumnal. Its so cold outside today it was the perfect day to make them.
Now we are going to get all comfy cosy and watch Paddington.
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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.
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?
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
most comfortable position
need for fresh air/adverse to cold
thirst for hot or cold drinks?
stool & urine colour texture and regularity
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.
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.
It’s important to note before reading on that I am certainly not anti-screen time. Neiva loves her iPad. She plays games and watches programmes and videos. Although we don’t have a TV in our living room, we do have a TV upstairs in our bedroom where we enjoy many wonderful family movie nights.
That said, if Neiva does have too much screen time, there are definite changes in her behaviour. Contrast this with where she chooses to spend most of her time, outside, and she is a much calmer and more cooperative child.
We are fortunate to live in an area where (despite living in a noisy little town) we can within minutes easily access a quiet park, take a walk in a local woodland, in a field surrounded by rolling hills and bird song, by a stream, anywhere where we can escape from car horns, percussive drilling and those obnoxiously loud mopeds (a particular pet peeve of mine).
“Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take away the walls.” – Erin K. Kenny, Forest Kindergartens: The Cedarsong Way
I have just finished reading a brilliant book written by a man named Richard Louv who coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder”. His book, The Last Child In The Woods is a frightening read into how children today have lost touch with nature. In his book he relates a story. He was talking to a group of parents who were expressing concern about how their children’s childhood is vastly different to their own.
One man in the group, a quiet father raised in a farming community spoke up and said: “where I grew up a person was naturally outdoors all the time. No matter which direction you went, you were outdoors, in a plowed field, a wood or a stream. Now the park we grew up in is a metropolitan area. Kids haven’t lost anything because they never had it in the first place. What we are talking about here is a transition made by most of us who grew up surrounded by nature. Now nature is just not there anymore”. (The Last Child In The Woods, Richard Louv: page 12)
That sentence stopped me dead in my tracks and I had to read it again! As a child growing up in the 80’s I do remember playing outside for hours with my brothers and sister. Having to be called in when it got dark, my brothers regularly playing in a nearby wood. But Neiva’s generation may never even have those memories. How can they miss something they have never had?
So what are the benefits of playing in nature? The list is exhaustive. However, I read an article by the Child Mind Institute written by Danielle Cohen which beautifully sums up the most important reasons. The following list is taken from her article:
It builds confidence. The way that kids play in nature has a lot less structure than most types of indoor play. There are infinite ways to interact with outdoor environments, from the backyard to the park to the local hiking trail or lake, and letting your child choose how he treats nature means he has the power to control his own actions.
It promotes creativity and imagination. This unstructured style of play also allows kids to interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.
It teaches responsibility. Living things die if mistreated or not taken care of properly, and entrusting a child to take care of the living parts of their environment means they’ll learn what happens when they forget to water a plant, or pull a flower out by its roots.
It provides different stimulation. Nature may seem less stimulating than your son’s violent video game, but in reality, it activates more senses—you can see, hear, smell, and touch outdoor environments. “As the young spend less and less of their lives in natural surroundings, their senses narrow,” Louv warns, “and this reduces the richness of human experience.”
It gets kids moving. Most ways of interacting with nature involve more exercise than sitting on the couch. Your kid doesn’t have to be joining the local soccer team or riding a bike through the park—even a walk will get her blood pumping. Not only is exercise good for kids’ bodies, but it seems to make them more focused, which is especially beneficial for kids with ADHD.
It makes them think. Louv says that nature creates a unique sense of wonder for kids that no other environment can provide. The phenomena that occurs naturally in backyards and parks everyday make kids ask questions about the earth and the life that it supports.
It reduces stress and fatigue. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments require what’s called directed attention, which forces us to ignore distractions and exhausts our brains. In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.
We have experienced this first hand with Neiva. Learning and being immersed in nature is an essential part of childhood. So whilst screen time does have its place in today’s world, it also needs to know its place.
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
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.
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. Thenthere are the days when she sings, oh my – her singing…. and my heart melts. Thenthere 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. Thenthere 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.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant and using aroma to enhance psychological and physical well-being.
Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016
Aromatherapy is extremely beneficial to children of all ages and personality types. I qualified as an aromatherapist in 2009 and am using that knowledge and training to help Neiva in her journey.
Please bear in mind that although they are natural extracts, essential oils are extremely potent and should always be kept sealed tight and away from little hands at all times.
Another point to consider is that children, compared to us, have a heightened sense of smell (and children with sensory processing issues even more so) and can have sensitive skin. In this situation less is more. So the rule of thumb is to halve the stated standard dose.
If you are new to aromatherapy and want to have a taster of what the benefits of using essential oils are for you and your family, just remember “TLC”:
These three essential oils are safe to use and the benefits are extremely effective on children. There are other oils that work and treat many things but I would recommend these are the three to start with.
Nature is the one place where miracles not only happen, they happen all the time – Thomas Wolfe
Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016
How to Apply Essential Oils to Children There are a number of different ways all with important roles you can incorporate into daily life.
baths; Neiva absolutely loves water. Whenever she is ill or out of sorts, the first thing we do to assess how poorly she may be is by putting her in the tub. All you need to do is add a few drops of essential oil straight into the bath water.
massage; this is a truly lovely way to connect with your child. I attended a baby massage course with Neiva when she was 3 months old and it was such a lovely experience for both of us. Dilute drops of essential oil into a carrier oil.
diffusion; probably the method I use daily. Using a tea light oil burner, add a few drops of chosen essential oil to a little water and let the scent infuse the room.If you would rather not play around with tea lights an ultrasonic diffuser has the same effect but is safe enough to leave in a child’s room
inhalations; particularly good for coughs and cold’s however in children (young children in particular), the safest method is to add the essential oil to a wet muslin cloth and place over a warm radiator in your child’s room.
Yorkshire Lavender, May 2016
Before you begin to use essential oils its important to remember;
Always buy essential oils from a reputable source. If the oil is not pure, it will not have the effect you need. I buy my oils from Neals Yard
Aromatherapy oils should never be taken orally;
If the oils come into direct contact with the eyes, wash thoroughly with cold water or milk and seek medical advice if needed;
If you are concerned about skin sensitivity, try a patch test first. Apply the diluted oil (which means the oils have been added to a carrier oil) to a small patch of skin on the inner wrist. Wait an hour and if there is no redness or irritation, the continue to apply the oil as normal.
Following this, there will be a series of posts highlighting essential oils and oil blends that have been most beneficial to Neiva from calming temper tantrums to improving concentration. You can read the next post on lavender here.
Finally, aromatherapy will open you up to a whole new experience of the healing power of nature. Unlike man made methods, everything that has been grown on this earth is here to benefit our bodies in one way or another.
The photos in this post were taken during a trip to Yorkshire Lavender last year. We look forward to visiting this beautiful place again soon.
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