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This blog post is a Q and A session based on questions sent in from my podcast listeners.
Thank you for everyone who have sent in questions for me after listening to the podcast. I’m really excited to get all your feedback and hear how much you’re all enjoying the podcast. I know some of you are listening in the car on the way to work or someone told me they listened in the staff room the other day, so it’s just fantastic. Thanks so much for listening. I’d love if you’re enjoying the podcast to make sure you leave a review on whichever platform you’re using because the more reviews we get the more people who find it and the biggest difference we can make. So I always think sharing is caring so the more people you can share this podcast with the better. So I really appreciate your support.
So my first question comes from Sarah and she’s in remote Queensland, which has a number of students with ASD.
One of my young gentleman is constantly wearing his jumper and track suit pants we’re already reaching 39 degrees and soon it’s going to hit 51. Do you have any suggestions about helping him realize to wear appropriate clothing?
Well, absolutely, but a couple of things Sarah. First of all, I would check in that he knows what to do when he takes off his jumper or tracksuit pants because I have kids who like one of my little boys was so literal and his mum said, I’m gonna kill you if you lose another jumper, and he was too scared to take off his jumper in case he lost it. So I know that just sounds like, well why would a parent say that? But we’ve all said things like that and not thought about the literalness of asd kids. So first off I would check they know how to take their jumper off because some of my kids do not physically know how to get jumpers on and off and where to put it when they take it off and what to do if they lose it.
The same with their tracksuit pants because sometimes they have shorts underneath. Sometimes it can be cooler in the morning, so they’ll put their tracksuit pants on. Now some of my kids, without a doubt, it’s sensory. So knowing that now it can be sensory in a few different ways. Some of them like their tracksuit on because it feels comfy and soft and it’s against their body or it’s tight and old and comfy because it gives him deep pressure or that tracksuits been washed so many times. It’s really soft so they love it. So I would try and understand the sensory reasons why they’ve got that on, but some just don’t feel hot and cold. I’ve had kids who were perspiring and don’t even regulate that. So I would look at is it over or under reaction? So sorry Sarah no easy answers, but things worth looking into. Do they know what to do, how to take it off, do they overheat and the heat, is it because the clothing’s comfortable.
So I would look at that. If the parents have trouble getting the tee shirt and shorts on them, I would ask them to wash them like six times or even get a second hand one sometimes that have already been worn a lot that are really soft. So all of those things can make a big difference. So best of luck with that.
Monique has a couple of good ones here. I’m loving the new podcast. Thanks so much. Monique.
A couple of comments from educators I work with these. The child just won’t eat anything.
So again, this is often sensory too many of my kids only eat five foods. That isn’t uncommon that they have five favourite foods and that’s all they eat or some of my kids will eat fine at home, but nothing at preschool or school because of the noise of everyone else eating and the smells and a lot going on sensory wise at eating time.
But most kids on the spectrum do have what picky eating and when I worked in the autism school, we did a lot of work around this and look for many of my kids. I really think, and if you talk to occupational therapists, many children didn’t go through that early exploring food stage.
If you think of when I had my babies and I’d be trying to feed them, they wouldn’t put their hands in stuff and explore food. So sometimes it’s about going right back to that like cutting up an apple and letting them sniff it and feel it, not forcing them to eat food or cutting up an orange and letting them explore it.
So many of those kids, what you’ll discover when you go to explore it, not only don’t like the taste, don’t like the touch of food or don’t like the smell. Like I’ve got a girl who one day we gave an orange, it’s just like drive reaching from the smell of the orange. So I would really go back and look at that. Now some of you are going oh but Sue we don’t have time. I know I choose my battles. Some of my kids have had the same cheese sandwich with the crust cut off the last five years, so some kids only eat a limited range of food. If possible. I would get an occupational therapist to look at that, but my main thing is choose your battles. Are they healthy? Are they eating? If they aren’t eating then that is a worry and I would definitely get the family to seek help for that.
The other question Monique had is we’ve got a kid who pulls everything off the shelves, out of the baskets, resulting in chaos. What do we do?
I have seen this so many times over the years and where people then put a little curtain and all that does is slow the child down.
Many of my kids, when they’re sent to a shelf, just tip it. They love seeing things tipping and falling.
Sometimes it’s about redirecting them. Sometimes it’s about when they’re sent there to make a choice they get overwhelmed, so really you need to work out what is the child doing? Are they doing it actually to seek sensory information? Are they doing it to seek repetitive behaviours or are they doing it and looking at you for a reaction? You know, what is going on?
Now, no easy answers, but again, if for me, I would sit them at the desk and give them two puzzles to choose from rather than sending them over to the shelf or if they are tipping it and looking to me, I would look at how can I give them attention in other ways.
So just all that classic teaching staff, but I hear you, that pulling thing, everything off the shelves can be very frustrating. So I hope that gives you some hints. Monique, where to start and what to do.
Penny, this is a great question.
Would it be possible to create a podcast for families who have just received a diagnosis.
Look, I honestly think that’s a great idea, but I really couldn’t think of it going for a whole 15 minutes. So I will just give you a little bit of a two minute overview of what to do in this situation.
“One of our families just got a diagnosis and this was immediately followed up by taking him to an OT, Speechie and the families didn’t even know what the different people were for”
I think that’s really good to know and a great question. Thanks Penny.
So occupational therapists are worth going to, even if parents got an assessment to understand if their child over or under reacts to sensory. Some kids don’t need ongoing occupational therapy. Some need a lot. So some need it for sensory. So it might be a brushing program, it might be, a whole lot of help with getting all their senses working, some need them for fine motor skills, like you know, zips and buttons and drawing and handwriting. Others need occupational therapy to really help calm their senses, to help them engage and participate. Now, I was lucky enough to work at a special school where we had occupational therapists as part of our program and I learned so much from occupational therapists and they are amazing, really amazing at understanding kids on the spectrum’s behaviour and how that behaviour can look sensory wise. So I would recommend parents go to an occupational therapist and at least get an assessment so they know where the child’s at. Sometimes they don’t need OT. Sometimes they might need a little bit. Sometimes they need a lot, but worth knowing, absolutely.
A speechy, there’s lots of misunderstanding about speech therapists. Speech therapists don’t just help with speech because I’ll have parents go, “but they can talk”. Yes. I know but speech therapists do more than that. They help children with actually reading, writing, spelling, communication. They do so much, working memory, planning, executive functioning like speechies do a lot more than talking because some of my kids too can talk back, not communicate their needs.
So again, for parents who have a new diagnosis, I would encourage you to get your name on a waiting list for a speech therapist by the way, speech therapists and occupational therapists are very hard to find for some of you in remote areas. You might have to wait six months to see someone, but that’s okay because you can do stuff in the meantime.
I’d encourage you to look at my Early years book, the green one, and just start with a couple of things in there. There’s lots of things in there speech and ot wise you can do anyway, but for me with the speech therapist, again get an assessment and they can tell you what they can help you with. Some speechies do different things to others, but for me, I have worked with lots of speechies who have made a massive difference. Helping kids with reading, which people don’t realise that a speech therapist can make a big difference because when a child say, might know all the letters but can’t put them back together, often that’s working memory and the speech therapist can help the child put that information back together.
Or I have kids who have hyperlexia, which is the ability to read with no comprehension or limited comprehension so they can decode texts but don’t understand it. And the speech therapists have lots of strategies and programs that can help with that. So I would definitely recommend talking to an OT, talking to a speech therapist, psychologists can make a big difference too with helping children regulate their emotions and with anxiety and meltdowns. Tony Atwood is a huge fan of cognitive behaviour therapy and he’s written some great books on that. So normally with psychologist you might only do six sessions, but you’ll give the child some strategies around regulating their emotions, which can I say also helps with sleep. So often a lot of psychologists will help you get your child in good routines around bedtime as well. And sleep. Because a lot of my kids don’t sleep because of their anxiety, so I’ve got quite a few psychologists who do an amazing job getting children who, for example, have been sleeping in their parents’ bed for six years, getting the kid to sleep in their own bed and supporting the family through that process.
Now just on sleep, if any of you have my Ultimate Guide to School and Home, there are some really good strategies in there around sleep, which I wrote with Anna Tullimans who’s a Mum. So I’d encourage you to have a look at that too.
So there’s the questions I’ve got so far. If you have any questions, please send me some more questions. I love hearing from people and I hope to do more q and a’s. So please send in any questions. Some people sent me questions and I just went back to you because they were more personal than something that I could talk to everybody about.
But just on my book, the Ultimate Guide to School and Home. If you love my podcast or my newsletters or looking just for one book because often people go to me which book, one book would you recommend and I would recommend theUltimate Guide to School and Home. I write that with Anna Tullimans who is a parent and I love writing books with parents because Anna would go, oh well I just do this at home with Daniel and I go, but that’s not possible in a class with 30 kids or I’d go, well at school I’d do this. And she’s like, yeah, but that’s for school. Daniel wouldn’t want me to do that at home. So we put in the stuff that works for both of us, but with everything we’ve got like 10 to 20 ideas to try. So engaging disengaged students, I think we’ve got 15 ideas to try. Making learning fun, Twelve ideas to try. Teacher assistants, your key role, 10 things to know or what to do if you don’t have any help. How to adapt tasks and making adjustments.
The importance of downtime, which is something Anna really taught me about how Daniel needed his downtime and I’ve used that for many of my kids over the years that Anna taught me where maybe we’re better off doing the homework over the weekend rather than each night when they’re exhausted from school and I’ve done that with lots of my kids. The goal is we get the homework and spelling done. It doesn’t matter if they did it on the weekend. The goal is they do some reading. This kids more likely to do three lots of half an hour of reading over the weekend than asking them to read after school. So really thinking about those things, but the reason I love the book we’ve put in what works for both of us and just tips so you can go tried it, tried it. That wouldn’t work. Yep. That one’s a good one. That one’s a good one. Oh, okay. I hadn’t thought of that one.
Highly anxious kids, what to do. Sensory processing, sensory, meltdown, shutdowns, tantrums, bullying, you name it.
The Ultimate Guide to School and Home has over 500 strategies to try. So what I’m going to do guys is give you $10 off the printed book.
The Coupon code ( for the printed book only) is : ultimate10
It is also a digital book as well for those of you who aren’t in Australia here is the link to the downloadable version
I’d encourage you to download the ultimate guide to school and home. I think it’s going to be making learning fun. So happy reading and best of luck, and I hope you enjoyed the q and a.
The Ultimate Guide to School and Home
Content Includes over 150 pages of key strategies and ideas including
- Engaging Disengaged Students
- Making learning fun
- Teacher Assistants: Key strategies to support students
- What to do if you don’t have any help
- Adapting tasks and making adjustments
- The importance of downtime
- Behaviour as a second language
- Highly anxious kids – what to do
- Sensory processing difficulties
- Meltdowns, shutdowns and tantrums
- Social skills
- Separation and divorce
- Choosing a school
- Transition to Secondary