When Shops Fail Customers With Autism

cyberbullying

Yesterday, I went to a well-known computer shop to pick up my son’s laptop after it had been away for a week being repaired. Sending emails over the period of the laptop being away, I was determined to make sure that the hundreds of pictures, strategies and projects Jon had been working on were safely backed up. After all, we had taken out a care policy to ensure that if anything went wrong, all of Jon’s things were safe.

Jon loves his gaming. He makes friends all over the world (a part of building his social skills, he finds this the best way to find friends.) He plays team games for hours on end and they discuss lots of things like life, music, films and hobbies.

I have always been smart when it comes to dealing with companies and shops. Every time something has had to go back either for repair or a refund, I have carefully kept letters, conversations, names of people I have spoken to and so on, just in case. This was another one of those times when I was glad I had stored up all my correspondence.

Jon readily and willingly trusts everyone. I am cautious.

The shop in question had wiped Jon’s computer clean, despite my correspondence making sure that it wouldn’t happen.

Now, of course I have complained formally and the case is now being looking over by the company, so as far as my neuro-typical brain is concerned, that’s job done and very little else I could do.

For Jon, it was a catastrophe. Two and a half years of hundreds of pictures of games, projects, things he had made, contacts, all gone.

Driving home to break the news to Jon was something I was dreading. I knew it would be bad. I knew there would be a meltdown and it would against me. Jon doesn’t understand that these things happen and no matter how careful you might be in life, there will always be people who will make mistakes and let you down. It’s a fact of life. For Jon, it means war.

The Meltdown

The meltdown which ensued was pretty violent. Things were thrown, smashed up, it took about an hour of me trying to calm him down to a point where I could talk to him rationally. I had things thrown at me, books ripped up, a bedroom trashed. Jon shouted out all sorts of nasty things, swearing and cursing until he was quite blue in the face. By the evening, I had managed to get him to start laughing at a book I was showing him. I took his mind off the world which as far as he was concerned, had crashed down around him.  He went to bed calm and in a better frame of mind. By 2am, he was crying, wailing and sitting in the middle of his bedroom floor with his bed-things thrown across the room. Wide awake and crying.

I soothe him with a story and a cuddle and the night is returned to its peaceful slumber once more.

So what is the point of this rant this morning? An autistic boy doesn’t understand what had happened to his laptop, so?

I shall tell you why.

Companies are failing. Not just us anyway by not doing things right, but they are failing another part of society. They fail to realise the impact that such a ‘minor’ mistake, as far as they’re concerned, has on someone with special needs.

A person with Autism feels every bump in the road of life 1000 times more than anyone else. They don’t have the capacity to understand that bad things happen. All they see is the world they love turning its back on them, casting them into a dark pit of nothingness. The world is failing to care and so therefore it should be destroyed in some way, and made to feel as bad as they do. Jon sees every hiccup as a personal vendetta against him.

What I would like companies, shops and other organisations to do is stop and think about the impact that their carelessness might have on the customer.  I don’t like to play the ‘Autism card’ when it comes to complaining to people like this computer shop as I feel that doesn’t work, but more to the point, they are not really bothered about who is on the receiving end of their mistake. However, I do think their management teams need to consider the impact of their actions on the section of society who struggle with life as it is anyway, let alone other people’s failings.

1 in a 100 children in the UK are on the spectrum. That’s a lot of future customers.

So all I am asking shops to do is just stop and think the next time you think to yourself, ‘can I be bothered to do this properly?’

The answer is, yes, you can, because you might be stepping on someone’s world if you don’t.

Keep safe and happy everyone.

 

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6 Ideas For A Stress Free Morning Back To School

As the summer now draws to a close, the thought of getting your ASD child up the morning they go back to school, can be Hellish. Over the last five weeks, you’ve dealt with late nights, late mornings and all sorts of mood swings, no matter what age they are or where they are on the spectrum. Now for you, the idea of getting them back into a routine is a nightmare in itself.

So for those of you who are dreading the morning of school (and for my autistic son, Jon, that’s this Friday) here are a few tips to get your child perfectly bright-eyed and ship-shape for the beginning of the new school year…

  1. Early to bed, early to rise: The night before is usually when everything kicks off. Not only is your child unwilling to go to bed but there will be a zillion questions and affirmations required from them  about what’s going to happen the following day. Of course, you’re not Buddha and all you can do is answer them as best you can. If you can get them to bed at a reasonable time that evening, then you are half way to cracking the Autism code. Just keep in mind they will need to start winding down a good three hours before bedtime to avoid making plans and visits to anywhere or anyone from lunchtime onwards.
  2. The key to an early bedtime is to wear them out with a busy day the day before: That might be easier said than done for some children, but a lot of fresh air, even a drive around in the car with the window down can help a child feel tired easily after dinnertime. Indulge in their favourite games in the afternoon, this will not only make them tired ready for bed at the right time but will keep their mind distracted from school.
  3. Warm drinks for calming down: Warm milk or some luke warm herbal tea works well to soothe an anxiety or stress. Try Camomile cooled down with perhaps half a teaspoonful of honey. This soothes the tummy and relaxes the stress levels (for both you and your child!) Avoid hot chocolate or anything that has a high sugar content (other than honey as this is a natural sweetener.) Malted drinks are good too but warm milk is best. Avoid laptop games and anything that will excite them visually. Story books with a lot of pictures in, are still handy in my house even though Jon is over 15 years old on occasions he can’t get to sleep.
  4. Thinking games: I have used these types of word games for Jon in the past and they have worked brilliantly. Make yourselves comfortable with your child tucked up in bed and start a game of guessing colours of an object such as fruit, transport or anything your child is into. They don’t have to be colours, they can be types of things such as trains, hats, buses, even uniforms! Anything that allows their mind to think about something other than school. You can use any sorts of guessing games. I Spy tends to get boring so I tend to avoid that one!
  5. Anything but the telly: It is easy to be tempted into putting on the box and letting them watch their favourite programme, but although this might give you a few minutes breathing time, it wont help your child to go to sleep. Children have the habit of sitting too close to the tv, straining their eyes and keeping their mind active causing it to remember images and sounds. This is likely to keep them awake, especially if your child is sensitive. Jon would get very upset if he watched an advert with a toy or an animal in it. Then he would be so distressed that it would keep him from settling down and going to sleep. My intervention here would be to make him laugh, so I would take a couple of his own cuddly toys and start a conversation between them. This not only gives your child some social skills practise but distracts them enough to associate then a toy as a happy thing, rather than a sad one.
  6. Waking up!: There is a rule of thumb that goes in our house for Jon when I need to get him up for school. It goes rather on the initial reading I take of his mood. Sometimes, he can be very cheerful and I will keep this level of cheerfulness from the word go. I allow him to take the lead in the mornings as I find this is the only way to get him ready. I adopt his mood and reflect it as I get his ready for school. That way he doesn’t have time to complain. If he is in a bad mood, I will ask him what he wants help with. If I am greeted by a groan of ‘nothing’ then I leave him to it, reminding him every so often what the time is. Avoid arguments and shouting. This will only mean that you end up shouting at each other and nothing will get done. If there is a sullen mood surrounding your child, then keep talking to a minimum. Sometimes, children might not want to talk at all, and this is fine. Go along with it. Don’t feel your child has got to be the same every day. They won’t be, and never take any aggravation from your child personally. His mood is not your fault. Ever.

Good luck for your mornings back to school!

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how to get your child up to speed on communication skills

 

Five CBT & Autism Q and A’s

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Autism has been widely researched over the last 30 years seeing such courses which claim to practically cure young people of Autism. Of course CBT alone does not. There is no cure for Autism. However, with careful intervention of a number of alternative therapies, diet and lifestyle, there can always be a significant change in the individual.

I believe that Autism is a disorder which is the result of the environment the person is in at that moment. Shift the environment and the traits of Autism ‘disappear.’ The key to the ultimate intervention is the environment. All the other methods and strategies simply support rather than remedy.

CBT was designed to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and eating disorders such as anorexia. Yet the intervening CBT with Autism is still a relatively new concept which is being found to be highly beneficial with many clients and their families.

Who will it help?

CBT will help your child enormously if they fit into the following criteria;

  1. They are of an age where they can be responsible for their own actions (for example, from the age of 8 upwards)
  2. They have at best some reasonable control over their behaviour
  3. That behaviour is led by a thought process.
  4. They have the following disorders: Asperger’s syndrome and/or high functioning Autism.

Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on how someone thinks and encourages them to identify negative thought patterns which cause unwanted behaviour. For your child, CBT can be highly effective for helping ease meltdowns and outbursts; shouting, swearing, pathological demand avoidance syndrome and communication.

CBT helps people who have social and communication issues and also those who would benefit from developing these skills for a more rewarding lifestyle. It looks at how we think and who we behave in relation to how we interact with others and how our behaviours affect people and society around us.

Will it help my child to cope with society?

Where people are keen to develop a sense of being so that they can fit into society, then CBT is a very good place to start. With my son, Jon, he found CBT very effective as his belief was not to stand out from the crowd as being ‘different’ but the desire to want to fit into the world and live as normally as possible. With many young people on the spectrum who have a capacity to think outside their Autism, there is a notable wish to be accepted in society, therefore CBT is another pathway that is open to them to make the transitions needed. CBT gives these people the right tools to help them overcome situations which they would ordinarily find troublesome and stressful.

Can it help stop meltdowns?

We covered thought processes and keep a though log in the first part of the Masterclass course. This is an exercise which is widely used to help people understand the link between thoughts and behaviours. We looked schemas and negative thought patterns which are often the cause misinterpretation thus leading to meltdowns. In my book ‘Extraordinary Journey’ I talk about the time when my son Jon, had the most incredible meltdown in a café which had been triggered by his misinterpretation of my mother’s actions. A meltdown that would have been avoided had he realised what she was doing.

CBT can help enormously with the following:

  • Anger and aggressive behaviour
  • Anxiety
  • Depression in teenagers
  • Social difficulties
  • Self-harm
  • Repetitive behaviour
  • Communication problems

Where Can I Find Out More?

You can find out more by downloading our FREE guide here which covers signs and symptoms of Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and early intevention. Or you can sign up below if you want to join our Member’s Only Unleashing The Positive Masterclass

get your child's social and comunication skills up to speed today!Like this post? You will love How To Turn Your Child’s Autism Around And Save Money!michelle hatcher

Michelle Hatcher is the author of the Progress Pentagon parenting courses and founder of the best-selling : Unleashing The Positive Mind Masterclass. She is a certified CBT Therapist, NLP Practitioner, mother of 15 year old Jon who has Autism and PDA and certified Life Coach.

She is also a member of the Complimentary Medical Association, the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists
and The Association of Integrative Psychology.  Her autobiography, How To… uncovers the secrets of Autism and how to overcome it plus it tracks her life as a mother of an Autistic child, how she developed her best-selling courses using CBT and NLP with Autism. She is also a public speaker on Autism Awareness.

She lives in Wiltshire with husband Nick, son, Jon and three cats; Apple, Missy and Augusta.

Good mental health parenting Autism

I received a very interesting idea from a reader this morning who wanted some guidance on mental health for parents and carers of Autism.  For something which is not often talked about, I was very very keen to get my thoughts and ideas down on the old electronic paper. So let’s think about this concept for today’s blog post.

How is your mental health and more importantly, how is it going to be over the summer holidays?

As parents, many schools would argue that rest is for those giving care within the home during the hours of 9am and 3pm (if you’re in the UK.) And they would be right, or would they?

Raising a child with Autism or any other disorder for that matter can be tough, and schools fail to appreciate that. It is emotionally draining as well as financially exhausting. Parents, like myself in the past, will often forgo visiting public places and not take part in normal activities simply to avoid the embarrassment and stress of a meltdown.  When Jon was much younger I would feel like having a meltdown myself. Starting a family day out with high hopes would often be thrown by the curbside due to shouts, swearing, punching and kicking only to return home half an hour later.

ej16
Jon aged 6

Parents can feel as though they are being held prisoner in their own homes on sunny days at weekends because of their children’s Autism. As much as there have been campaigns up and down the country for Autism friendly parks and places to visit, sometimes, it is just the getting to these destinations which is more than families can bear.

So what can we do about it? I have come up with some solutions which I hope you will find useful to stop summer passing you by from behind a closed door. They are good for your child and good for keeping your mental health in excellent shape during the coming weeks;

  • A kick around in the park with a ball; Ok, so this might sound like a no brainer but a vast open space where there is a minimal chance of traffic and no noise from other children can be the best way to spend an afternoon. Jon would make immediate enemies in the busy playground as he would sit, mumbling to himself or follow other children around when they clearly did not want to be followed! Jon was happiest when walking around a nature reserve, or park with a duck pond and trees to hug. If I thought about taking him to an indoor adventureland, I was usually asking for trouble. National Trust places are great for having vast open estates of rambling woods and fields to run across, and because you need to be a member, they don’t get hugely busy during the week. English Heritage is another good one. Sporting ruins of castles, (just remember English Heritage buildings tend not to have ceilings) they are great places to roam.
  • Weekday Outings; When Jon was smaller and not glued to the teenage laptop years, I would take him out all over the place during the week. Of course, during term times this can be very tricky, but even during the holidays on weekdays and on slightly cloudier days, places tend to be less busy. One of Jon’s favourite things was to ride on trains. Living close to London at the time, I would spend the entire day riding up and down on the DLR. It didn’t matter to me. If he was happy, then that was fine by me, and that brings me on to the next point….
  • Be flexible; I found the best thing is always to be flexible and leave the days full of errands for another time. Go wherever your child wants to go. Even if it means spending three hours in Warhammer or Early Learning Centre. I spent days in the latter, often taking meals in with me. Don’t be stressed out before you step out the door or your child’s switch in mood will only make you feel worse.
  • Have a list; I would keep a list in my head of places to go. If you’re not keen about keeping stuff in your head, make a map and put flags on it for all the places you know you can go or you can take your child to so you have back up plans. Jon would change his mind at an instant, usually as we were going out the door. It is a good thing to refer to pinned up in the kitchen. With Jon’s PDA, his mind would shift violently so much so that if I didn’t come up with an alternative destination in five seconds, he would refuse to leave the house. You might not think having a list is needed in your household, but it will make you feel better if it’s there anyway.
  • Avoid visiting family; You might think it’s a good idea but seeing too much of your family will only give them the chance to give out well meaning advice which might set you on edge. For me at least, visiting family was often more stressful.

Getting out in the fresh air even for half an hour will help keep your sanity running smoothly.  Talk to your GP or the school or if you prefer, call the National Autistic Society Helpline if you’re concerned about how you feel mentally. Bringing up a child on the spectrum is normally what everyone else can’t begin to imagine. They will try to help, although it might not feel as though they are helping at all. Keep them at a distance if you think they will make you feel worse.  And always, always make time for yourself. Even if it’s a trip to the supermarket for an hour.

You are not alone. Being the parent or carer of a person with Autism can really suck sometimes. But that’s ok. You’re doing a brilliant job. Just be kind to yourself and give yourself breaks during the day during the school holidays. Even if it is just to go sit in another room with a cup of tea. No one is going to tell you off.

Like this post?

 

Like this post? You will love How To Turn Your Child’s Autism Around And Save Money!michelle hatcher

get your child's social and comunication skills up to speed today!Michelle Hatcher is the author of the Progress Pentagon parenting courses and founder of the best-selling : Unleashing The Positive Mind Masterclass. She is a certified CBT Therapist, NLP Practitioner, mother of 15 year old Jon who has Autism and PDA and certified Life Coach.

She is also a member of the Complimentary Medical Association, the International Alliance of Holistic Therapists
and The Association of Integrative Psychology.  Her autobiography, How To… uncovers the secrets of Autism and how to overcome it plus it tracks her life as a mother of an Autistic child, how she developed her best-selling courses using CBT and NLP with Autism. She is also a public speaker on Autism Awareness.

She lives in Wiltshire with husband Nick, son, Jon and three cats; Apple, Missy and Augusta.