July Family Fund Blog Post.
A little background information
This is Amber she is 4 years old and has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) with traits of ADHD and Autism.
Amber has a younger sister Maisie who is 15 months old and lives with Mummy – Nicki and Daddy – Paul in a village in Worcestershire.
Amber is a lively little girl who’s always on the go, she finds it difficult to control her emotions and frustration. She requires a calm place if it all gets too much at home. Amber is a ‘Sensory Seeker’ and therefore will thrive on all sensory experiences, the messier the better! Family Fund provided Amber with a grant for Sensory toys and equipment from Learning SPACE and sessions at a local multi-sensory centre called SMILE (Sensation Movement Interaction in Life Experiences) at ARCOS (Association for Rehabilitation of Communication and Oral skills,) in Malvern, Worcestershire. We have noticed a marked improvement in Amber’s ability to cope with sensory overload, frustration and anger and will use the toys and equipment in her calm place.
As Amber has a great deal of energy, activities that ensure she burns this energy are of great benefit. She is very happy to try out any activity that allows her to run around and be free of constraints. She is looking forward to her Pre School Sports Day in July, and enjoyed practising recently. Amber has expressed that she would like to ask Father Christmas for a trampoline for the garden this Christmas, so already forward planning! We feel that a Trampoline would be a great addition for those times when she just wants to be constantly active and it all gets a bit too much for her indoors.
When Amber reached 4 her father and I discussed the possibility of a leisure activity to help build friendships and give her the opportunity to burn off the great amount of energy she has. Amber had expressed that she would like to try Ballet. I emailed ahead and explained Amber’s interest in the class and also some of the difficulties she experiences. We went along to the Saturday morning class, Amber seemed quite anxious as the waiting room was full of parents and their children and she clung onto me. The dance studio was spacious and Amber saw the opportunity to run around in circles. She was curious at first about what the other children in the class were doing but as her attention span is short she wanted to return to where I was sat for reassurance as this was a completely new experience for her. The other children had all been asked to take a teddy along to the class and unfortunately this request hadn’t been given to us, and this completely threw Amber and she could only concentrate on the fact that she didn’t have her teddy. Amber then wanted to run around the class, who were sat in a circle. The class teacher said to Amber “Please could you stop running around as it’s distracting the other girls.” This did upset me as I had told the teacher about Amber’s difficulties and especially as it was a completely new experience for her. Amber then approached me and said “Mummy I want to go home.” So we left the class, and she had a complete meltdown outside whilst on the way home.
We didn’t want to give up on an activity just yet and a friend recommended a local Football scheme for 3 to 5 year olds called ‘Footie Bugs.’ Again, I emailed ahead to the scheme leader and they were most helpful and understanding of Amber’s additional needs. Amber had to take in all the sounds from the large sports hall and being around unfamiliar adults and children, but for her first session we were impressed that she enjoyed kicking the ball about and joined in when a game of ‘Sharks’ was played! Towards the end of the 45 minute class Amber was tired and ran out of the sports hall but she was happy to return each week for a further 12 sessions. There was no pressure for her to join in as she could kick a ball around at the side of the sports hall and she wouldn’t disrupt the rest of the class. The classes are great as you can pick them up as and when required by booking in 6 week blocks, and still run through school holidays. What kept Amber engaged was that each weekly session would be based on a theme, whether it was Space, Zoo animals or Under the Sea. Amber particularly responded to the theme of ‘Superheros’ as at the time she had an interest in being ‘Spidergirl!’ The class leader would support Amber and another child during the session, especially if it looked like she was losing concentration.
I had a great rapport with the leader and she would check how Amber was progressing. The absolute highlight of the session was when Amber got to bring the group mascot ‘Footie Bug’ home and we wrote in his diary about the week he’d spent at home with Amber!
From September Amber starts full-time at school, we are waiting to see how she settles in and then hope to try either a gym class, street dance or swimming lessons as she is anxious about getting into the swimming pool, but has expressed an interest in giving it a try. There seems to be more variety of activities once children reach the age of 5.