Children & Homeopathy

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.

 

How to use Homeopathy

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?
  • which side?
  • 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 

  • temperature
  • perspiration
  • sleep pattern
  • most comfortable position
  • need for fresh air/adverse to cold
  • thirst for hot or cold drinks?
  • appetite
  • stool & urine colour texture and regularity
  • energy
  • 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.

Potency Selection

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.

Summer Walks & Blackberry Pie

August has been such a wonderful month. Days have slowed down almost to a stop. No rushed school run, no plans other than to take one day at a time, a setting in which Neiva thrives.

August is also the season for blackberries and at the later end of the month, apples. We have a huge blackberries bush in our garden that spills over the fence. Every morning, it has become a routine for Neiva (still in pajamas) to take her basket and collect them, though few make it as far as the basket.

She is so incredibly careful of the thorns and manages even to find and successfully pick the most heavily guarded ones with very little effort (unlike me).

As well as the garden, we have very beautiful woodland walks close to home. Weather permitting, we have spent many hours, basket in hand foraging. Its such a quiet and peaceful way to spend an afternoon.

Blackberry picking should be on every child’s to do list. Whilst some shy away from encouraging their children to pick berries, it is safer to teach children which berries they can eat than it is to tell them not to eat any, leaving them open to experimenting at a later date without your supervision.

For a successful forage with small children here are some valuable lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Lesson #1: Where there are blackberries there are nettles. Always wear a good pair of boots to keep little legs covered. A cane is also very useful to get to the big juicy ones higher up.

Lesson #2: Always pick from knee level up. There will be a small chance the lower level berries may have been watered by a passing urinating dog and also it’s hedgerow law to leave some for the mice, at least that’s what we tell Neiva.

Lesson #3: The sweetest berries are the blackest berries. Blackberries get sweeter the darker they get. Obvious to us but the red unripe berries look equally delicious through the eyes of a child.

This week, we managed to pick enough blackberries and apples to make a huge pie. We even had it for breakfast (another summer holiday tradition). It is so wonderful for Neiva to learn (like our earlier elderflower adventure) the process from picking to washing then baking to eating.

Apple & Blackberry Pie…

  • 250g flour
  • 125g cold cubed butter
  • 1 egg yolk beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • a tablespoon of sugar (optional)
  • splash of milk to combine
  • enough (chopped) apples and blackberries to fill a pie dish

Method…

  1. On a low heat add the blackberries and chopped apples to a pan with a splash of water and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer until the apples have softened and the liquid has thickened slightly. Leave to cool. Meanwhile, make the pastry.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour, butter and salt and blitz to combine. Add the beaten egg yolk and milk and blitz until a dough forms (about 20 seconds) and the bowl is clean. Wrap in cling film and place in fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Cut a third of the dough to use for the top of the pie and roll out the rest and place in the bottom of the pie dish. Add the cooled filling. For the top of the pie I like to lattice, you can find a tutorial here.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven on the middle shelf for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Despite the rain that’s sporadically showered its way through August, we have really enjoyed our slow days and although we are so ready for Autumn, this month will be remembered fondly for long walks and our harvest from the hedgerows.

 

I knew when I met you… a grand adventure was going to happen – AA Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

Hyperlexia & Discipline

I can honestly say that generally Paul and I have a really positive attitude when it comes to Neiva. The seeming lack of social interaction or conversation doesn’t seem to overly concern us when we see how gifted she is in other areas. We can see her improving day after day with her conversational skills so as her development is heading in the right direction, we tend to not to over analyse the situation.

However, when as a mother, you get to a point where you think “I actually don’t know what to do about this” fear overtakes. I have struggled and felt completely lost and helpless in one particular area. An area where, in Neiva’s case, whichever route I take could either help or hinder her progress so far, and this left me terrified.

Discipline.

Over pretty much the month of May, absolutely nothing I said or did seemed to resonate with Neiva. I read forums and books, sometimes into the early hours, that dealt with the standard straightforward discipline tricks and tips for a neurotypical child. This, in hindsight, was a mistake. I tried patiently repeating myself to her. When that didn’t work, I resorted to raising my voice and using trusted key words like “enough” (which I only use at a total exasperated breaking point) which served me well in the past but even this didn’t have the same impact as before. Basic generic reward charts whilst great in the beginning started to wane as the week went on. The naughty step, whilst still enabling her to say sorry became a carousel of repeated bad behaviour; naughty step, say sorry, bad behaviour, naughty step, say sorry. You get the picture!

Interestingly, the “simmer down chair”, that we use when she is struggling to express her emotions and needs a time out still seemed to work, although anything that relates to Charlie & Lola is always a winner with Neiva.

My concern was if she isn’t listening to me with the little things, how can I trust her to listen to the big things. I could feel I was losing control of the situation. I couldn’t remember in the heat of the moment what worked and what didn’t, my reprimand wasn’t consistent, my ramblings became longer and longer and it was only when I looked at her beautiful confused eyes, did it hit me. She had no clue what she had done to warrant my rant! After a heavy dose of mummy guilt whilst holding her tightly through tears, I vowed to find a way to resolve this.

“Enough” was indeed, enough and I found myself on the receiving end of my own discipline. I needed to speak to the only group of people that would be able to help. The Hyperlexia Support Group.


The response I got was pretty overwhelming. Not only were there strategies I’d never even thought about, there were others (if I’d just thought a little harder at Neiva’s areas of strength) were glaringly obvious. I am happy to report we are now back on track. Here are a few of my tried and tested favourites so far;

For reward charts with my hyperlexic twins we focused on choosing a favourite number and getting toward that (counting in 5’s if it was a big number) or having a word that they could earn the letters of the word by good behaviour. Once they got the letters of the word or reached the number they could choose a toy from the reward box (a shoe box covered in coloured paper and filled with junk from the $2 shop… I would try to reward the good rather than punish the bad – NATASHA

Why wasn’t I utilising Neiva’s gift of letters and numbers? She loves counting her five times table at the moment and loves discovering the words in letters. Instead of a reward box we have a reward jar with all her favourite things to do (go for icecream, make jam tarts, go to the cinema, have a picnic, go to her favourite little toy shop). What an amazing way to implement a reward chart.

 

I wrote some house rules. Each rule was a letter. For example A. No splashing water out of the bath. B. Always hold hands when crossing the road. Etc. There were no more than 10 rules. If he broke a rule he had to go to his thought space (bottom stair), where the rules were posted and he reread them – LUDO

I loved the idea of house rules. Again this involves utilising her reading gift and a love of the alphabet. The “thought space” is such a positive spin on the dreaded naughty step and I absolutely love that it involves rereading the house rules. Again, positive reinforcement is working well for our children here.

When I first found out what Hyperlexia was I read somewhere that if they haven’t seen it written it may not exist. So we started writing everything down. Lists work great for completing tasks and as mentioned above “house rules” have been really beneficial to use – ERIKA

This has been the advice that has really struck a chord with me more than anything. This advice is key to anyone understanding a child with hyperlexia. We now reinforce an instruction by writing it down and showing her. Neiva’s teacher unknowingly confirmed this when she told me how well she had adjusted when changing to a new activity table in class. As her classmates are just learning to read, pictures are placed on various activity tables. (I.e a picture of a cake for the “baking table”) so they are easy to find. These pictures now include a written instruction underneath.

We’ve also implemented this for times we are out of the house. I’ll now regularly type an instruction into the notes section on my iPhone and show it to her to reinforce what I’ve asked.

Since my son has always responded to numbers I do a count down from ten . If he’s not doing what he’s supposed to I start counting ! By the time I reach three or two he’s usually trotting off to bed or doing what he’s supposed to do . Maybe this technique will help? – JENNIFER

“I’m going to count to three…..” was something that never worked with Neiva. However, reverse the numbers from 10 and it’s a very different story. This, to my total amazement, really works for us. We use it if she is taking her sweet time to do something or if she is being purposely slow.

Its now mid July and I feel back in control again. Yes, there are times where I feel she is starting to fall back into her May habits. Instead of encouraging that helpless feeling again I have to remember the well known parenting phrase “before you can expect your child to listen, you really need to listen to your child.” I’ve learnt over these past few months that there is always a reason behind Neiva’s behaviour and unlike a neurotypical child that can just tell a parent what is bothering them, we have to ask Neiva in a different way which requires a lot of time and a lot of patience. By implementing the above strategies which are catered especially to her and her hyperlexia, this has eased her anxiety so much that when a situation arises that calls for discipline, its easy to discover what the problem is. By using strategies that she loves, she is a much more happy and contented child.

I want to say a special thank you to the parents on the Hyperlexia Support Group. They are a continuing source of help and encouragement. Hyperlexia is a beautiful gift for sure, but it does comes with many challenges. If you suspect your child has hyperlexia and need help or advice on where to go from here, please contact Dyan Robson here.

Neiva & Elderflowers

It’s hard to believe whilst I sit here typing, listening to the summer rain pattering against the window, just how gloriously beautiful the afternoon was picking elderflowers only a few days before.

If there is one scent that smells of an English summer its elderflowers. Tiny beautiful frothy fragrant white flowers made from tiny blossoms appear from May onwards, with the black purply berries taking over from August.

Whilst we love some of the organic shop varieties, I really wanted to have a go at making it myself. I also wanted Neiva to have the whole experience. From picking to steeping, straining then decanting to drinking the final product. 

Tips for picking Elderflower:

  • Pick the flowers preferably around midday when the suns heat is on them. The warmth of the sun enhances the beautiful perfume.
  • Make sure the flowers have plenty of blossom on them
  • Do not gather after a rainfall. It’s the pollen that gives the flower flavour and the rain will wash that away.
  • For the same reason as above, do not wash the flowers. Any insects or debris hiding amongst the tiny petals will be strained out later.

So after consulting my Hedgerow Handbook and with a beautiful sunny afternoon ahead of us, off we went to find our bounty. There were so many elderflowers to choose from we lost track of time and only when our basket was full to bursting did we venture back. 

Elderflower Cordial

For this recipe you will need: 

  • 1.5 sugar
  • 1.7 litres water
  • 2 unwaxed lemons (sliced)
  • Muslim cloth or jelly bag strainer

Method 

    1. Add the sugar and water to a pan and simmer gently until the sugar has dissolved. 
    2. Turn off the heat and add the elderflowers (flower heads down to submerge them completely) and the lemon slices, cover and leave to sit for 24 hours to infuse.
    3. Strain the liquid with a muslin cloth.
    4. Decant into a glass bottle and top with either water, soda water (for elderflower presse) or champagne/prosecco (for a grown up version!)

    This should keep for up to 6 weeks in the fridge although I doubt it will be there that long. I found the flavour is enhanced, very intense and extremely delicious in comparison to shop bought cordial. So sweet and so very fragrant.

    Making elderflower cordial certainly isn’t a quick process, however as well as being a fantastic sensory and learning experience, it also taught Neiva to learn patience in a beautiful and fun way. 

    Good things do come to those who wait…..

    One Year With Enid

    Exactly a year ago today we brought our beloved therapy cat Enid home. Enid is a beautiful, gentle, caring and loyal Maine Coon cat. She really is Neiva’s best friend. We’ve had a wonderful first year with her, she’s grown so big!

    I’ve previously written in more detail here just how special Enid is and how she came to be part of our little family. We cannot imagine life without her.

    Enid is with us thanks to reading the amazing story of a talented little girl named Iris Grace who formed a beautiful friendship with her Maine Coon cat named Thula. Her story is wonderful and inspiring and a very emotional read. We are indebted to Iris Grace and her family for sharing their story. Without them, we would not have our beautiful Enid.

    From the day we brought her home, Enid rarely leaves Neiva’s side and follows her around constantly. Neiva struggles with social conversation in every day life but when she is with Enid she talks non stop to her. Enid faithfully listens to her endless chatter and singing.

    They both share a love of water and Enid is a regular bath companion to Neiva. She is totally unfazed by Neiva’s exuberant splashing and sits perched on the side of the bath watching and playing. In fact one of her favourite places to relax is our bathroom sink. The tap has a slight drip and she’ll position herself right under, letting the water run down her nose. She’ll happily sit there for hours.

    Enid is extremely affectionate. She likes to be where people are. She has a beautiful chirp when she is happy and purrs readily. When Neiva is at school or if the house is empty, we’ll regularly come back to see she has picked up Neiva’s bedtime toy Foxy, dragged him downstairs and is laid asleep on him. I’m sure that’s her way of telling us she misses her friend.

    Enid has an interesting fascination with bottle tops. Her favourite game is to play fetch (like a dog) drop the bottle top directly into our hand and make us throw it again. It has become her party piece, one she relishes in performing.

    Neiva has this beautiful habit of tenderly holding my chin if she wants to get my attention and will gently hold it there whilst she tries to formulate her request into words. Enid too has a similar gentle habit. Every morning, she’ll come into our bedroom, hop onto the bedside table and gently tap my cheek with her paw to wake me for food. She really is a lovely natured little being.

    In honour of our beloved Enid, I have put together a vlog of her first year with us. The song is very special and dear to my heart as it reminds me so much of Neiva. Whenever I’ve had a particularly stressful day I’ll play this song to remind me just how special she is and how I love to be her mummy.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Notes:

    • For more on the story of Iris Grace please click here.
    • For more information on hyperlexia please click here.
    • The black and white featured picture of Enid was taken by Mark Kaye, a photographer and family friend.

     

    Song: All About Your Heart – Mindy Gledhill

    One Year With Enid…. from L E A N N E on Vimeo.

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