Hi everybody, it’s Mark here from lllawarra Education Foundation. Thank you for tuning in today. Today I want to actually be talking to you as a parent of autistic children so if you are a parent with an autistic child, please stick around because today, I guess I’m going to be sharing with you a little bit, a few tips and a few things that I’ve learned, of what it means to be a dad of, in my case, three sons, three boys who are autistic. So again, thanks so much for tuning in please stick around and I hope it helps. www.illawarraeducationfoundation.com So as I said in the introduction, I’m a father of three boys with autism spectrum disorder and so along the journey my wife and all we’ve actually learned a lot of tips, a lot of information, things that work a lot, things that work a little, things that don’t work and then suddenly work, and things that work and things that don’t work, so I don’t want to confound people, I don’t want to confuse people, I certainly don’t want to be negative tonight, today so please know, these are just tips that I found that have worked. The the first thing that I want to share with you is the huge importance of sleep in the routine or in the life of a child with autism spectrum disorder. Now for me, for my three boys they need twelve hours sleep a night, and so that’s the first tip. I want to encourage you please ensure that your child has eleven to twelve hours sleep every single night. The second tip that I want to share with you today following the importance of sleep, is the importance of connecting with your child. One of the biggest struggles that we find as parents of autistic children is it is absolutely exhausting. We never have a break. When we have autism spectrum disorder children they require any an intensity of parenting and intensity of emotional intelligence and an intensity of awareness of what they’re doing at present, what they may do any moment and what will be happening later on in the day. So I don’t know about you but I find that I’m constantly monitoring the present. I’m also coming up with ‘Plan B,’ ‘Plan C’ so if something goes wrong I actually am prepared to be proactive in my reaction and then my wife and I are always thinking about the future as well in terms of what’s happening for the rest of the day what’s happening coming up soon one hours, two hours, three hours etc. So what I find helps with my boys is I proactively, particularly in those really difficult times when they’re fighting amongst themselves or they’re out of routine or have eaten something that sets them off. I find that you’re constantly managing them. You’re constantly giving them one-hundred percent of your attention and so that creates this sense of obligation in a way sometimes you forget that that you’re there to love them and to nurture them and sometimes you think you’re there to just to manage them and to keep them from hurting themselves or hurting other people. So, what works for me and my wife? Well the first thing (and again autistic children are different) our boys a really quite okay with hugs. So we’re really blessed in that regard so I find first thing in the morning my boys always find my wife and I and we have really great hugs. We start the day with a lot of love, a lot of affection and that really helps to start the day in a really positive way by having that deep connection to start with. I want to encourage you to find out what works. Some autistic kids made deep tissue massage. The deep tissue stimulation and what that means is the muscles are really squeezed tightly and firmly. Not hard, but that sense that the muscles really feel that deep pressure. Plan everything and be in a routine. So what does that mean? It sort of ties in with the sleep little bit but I really want to encourage you, get a diary. So my wife and I, we’ve just transferred from a pen and paper diary to an electronic diary that we have on their smartphones. So we are using “Google Calendar.” I know there are other products out there. Get what works for you and so we put absolutely everything on the calendar and the great thing is that you can actually have recurring appointments because with three sons with autism we have a lot of appointments and so being organised is critical to that part of our life. Be flexible all of the time, and again this comes to that sense of we are always one hundred percent dealing with an intense situation a lot of the time and so I find, I mentioned earlier, we have a ‘Plan A’ in action but there’s always a ‘B’ and a ‘C.’ So for example, if we need to go down to the shops particularly a large shopping centre, our boys really don’t cope. It’s that sensory information that we are all bombarded with. People not on the spectrum, we cope with it. Children on the spectrum, they don’t have the filters in their mind that can actually block out different sensory information. So I find my sons are bombarded with the different smells, the temperature change from the carpark with the different lights and the different colours. Naturally also all the huge amounts of people. The prams, the bustling as people walk past with bags and of course the sounds from the music to people talking, all of those things. So our eldest son who’s now nine, he was diagnosed as ASD when he was eight we’ve known for a long time, but it took a while to get that diagnosis. He would last pretty much twenty five minutes in a shopping centre before he would absolutely lose it, and it took us a little while to understand that was his way of expressing that he’d had enough. So we find now we’re really flexible when it comes to having to go to a shopping centre we try to minimise our time there, or what we will do is we will prepare him as best we can and so we often prepare him by telling him what we’re doing. This is the routine. This is where we’re going. Have lots and lots of water. Stay hydrated, and often giving him the opportunity to go to the play equipment inside the shopping centre helps him to self-regulate. So that’s an example, we can’t just pop down the shops are regular family and have no incidences of meltdowns we have to actually plan it well in advance. That’s just one very small example. What I want to talk to you about, are things that I’ve found, my wife and I have found that actually help to minimise the symptoms of ASD in our kids. The first thing is food control. If we cut out preservatives and colours and minimise the sugars, the artificial sugars that helps greatly. Now of course that’s not rocket science we all pretty much know that. So again you need to work out what that means for you. For us we bought a Thermomix, simply because it was the most convenient, the fastest and the easiest way to guarantee that food control. It’s up to you what you want to do. The second thing that I find that helps to minimise symptoms is sleep. So having the twelve hours every night is really important. Now to achieve that, there were two things that were critical. Apart from the routine and knowing in advance, all of those things. It was having a dark room and having a white noise machine. Now the dark room was my wife made blackout curtains, blockout curtains rather. So again if you’re not handy with sewing, like my wife is, you might need to buy some and look around. There are ways to do that. The second thing was a white noise machine. These are marvellous. We bought a machine that had some chips in it, sort of sound chips and we’ve got around about twenty different sounds to choose from and so it’s really exciting when the boys go to sleep, they get to choose a sound. Whether it be crickets, whether it be birds chirping, whether it be a waterfall, rain on a tin roof, waves. There’s also some new age music as well which is really calming for the soul. So they get to choose and that is critical because it means that they can actually, in a way, have that calm dark space. I want to talk to you about compression garments. So there’s an Australian company called Jettproof. Now I don’t get any money for all these people by the way. I’m just sharing what works for us. There’s singlets and t-shirts that have elastic in them and your kids wear them and they feel… my boys say, they call them “hug singlets and t-shirts” and they’re just constantly tight on their bodies and they absolutely love them and we’ve found really fast that they work. They help with self-regulation. So again thank you so much, we have a website. Please go there. Please like, subscribe, share! The more I know that you’re enjoying these videos about homeschooling, about education and about autism and being a parent of autistic kids. The more videos we can make, so thanks so much!