How can I encourage my children to play together?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

We often hear that children with autism find it hard to play with their siblings at home, that they take toys, or become upset if a game isn’t played their way etc

There are ways to help this, and make it easier for your children to play together. Have a look at the tips below for some ideas

  • If possible, have two sets of identical items. This is so that the children can play alongside each other, with exactly the same items
playing alongside .jpeg
  • Encourage the children to play next to each other, but with their own toys at first – don’t expect them to share items or take turns yet!
  • When they can play alongside each other happily, encourage them to play together with shared items. By this, we mean, play with a train track together where there are lots of pieces of track and lots of trains so that they are playing together, but there are still enough items to not need to share, share a trampoline or sand put together
  • Within this, you can encourage the children to communicate with each other, and ask for different items etc
playing together.jpg
  • Then comes turn taking. This can be a hard step! Before you start, think of activities that both of the children will enjoy. If one of them doesn’t enjoy it, it won’t work! Keep the activity short, and so that the children take one turn only initially. As this becomes more successful, the number of turns they take can increase, and the support that you provide can be reduced

Just make sure that the children receive lots of fun activities after practicing playing together so that it is a fun activity that they will want to repeat!

If you have any questions, as always, please do get in touch

Preparing your child for a stay in hospital

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Going into hospital for a surgical procedure can be scary for anyone, but when it’s your child having the operation, that anxiety is emotionally charged. But you can lessen the stress for both of you. ABC Magazine talks to Spire Gatwick Park Hospital’s Lead Paediatric Nurse, Femi Omowo, on how best to prepare your child for an operation.

“Children can be naturally anxious, so if you can make every step of their journey to the operation as child-friendly as possible, they will be less anxious and, in turn, so will you,” says Femi.

With nine years in paediatric nursing, including time spent at the famous Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, he knows more than a thing or two about preparing a child for an operation.

“Distraction is the key to unlocking anxiety in both child and parent,” he says. “If a child is happily distracted with a toy or a book, then the parent can concentrate on what they are being told about the surgery
and aftercare.”

Distraction should begin from the moment a parent and child come to the hospital for a pre-assessment. Give your child a toy or book they haven’t seen before or not played with in a long time. Computer games or cartoons work best, so while your child is engrossed in the small screen, you can concentrate on answering questions about medical history and learning about what the surgery involves.

A large proportion of the operations in children aged between three and 10 years are Ears Nose and Throat procedures – that is, grommets, tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies. However, after a referral from your GP, a consultant will explore all non-surgical avenues first and will only recommend surgery if necessary.

When it comes to explaining to your child that they are going to have an operation, use simple language and make it exciting (see Femi’s tips below). For example: “the doctor is going to fix your ears and you will have supersonic ears”.

If you still have questions after the assessment, don’t hesitate to call the paediatric team.

“I carry a mobile with me at all times and always happy to take calls from worried parents any time of the day or night,” says Femi. “If you give parents all the information they need, it makes a massive difference on the day.
If a parent is anxious that leads to an anxious child. We can’t take that anxiety away completely, but we can help reduce the stress by preparing them and giving support before and after surgery.”

On the day of the operation, avoid battles over clothes – paediatric nurses are used to seeing children arrive and even go down to theatre in a princess dress or Spiderman outfit, so let them wear what they feel happy in. At Spire Gatwick Park, young children can `drive’ themselves to theatre in a remote-control car.

Let them bring a favourite toy that can go with them into theatre. Waking up in the recovery area can be emotionally distressing, so a favourite toy on the end of the bed can help.

Most importantly, Femi says put your trust in your hospital’s paediatric team and ask as many questions as you need to.

“We are used to working with children so trust us – our main job is to make sure children are not in pain,“ he says. “In a short space of time, we can make a massive impact on their health and well-being. I get so excited when a kid says to me ‘I don’t want to go home, I like it here’.”

How to tell your child they are going to have an operation
How much information you give your child will depend on their age. Older children and teenagers will want to ask questions and to know more.
Be guided by them. For younger children, Femi has these tips:
• Talk to your child at least a week before surgery and do it while you are enjoying an activity together.
• Use simple language, not medical terminology, and only spend a short time telling them.
• If they ask “is it going to hurt”, say “it might sting a bit or you might feel a slight scratch but the nurse will give you special cream to make it better.”
• Seek out books on preparing your child for an operation that you can read together, or check YouTube for video clips on the subject.
• Never lie to them – you risk breaking a trust and that can cause more stress for the child in the future, especially if they need repeat surgery.

For more information on Spire Gatwick Park Hospital’s paediatric service
call 01293 785 511 or visit

Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy?

By | Education, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

What is Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy

and what can it do for me?

by Ian Mackenzie (Dip.CBH, Cert Hyp, GQHP)
Alliance Therapies

Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy is primarily a talking therapy that incorporates a variety of proven techniques and procedures including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, neuro linguistic programming (NLP), hypnosis, mental imagery and visualization work. Having a variety of approaches allows the CBH therapist tremendous flexibility when providing treatment. We are not all the same, so it makes sense that we will respond differently to certain treatments so having a number of options can greatly enhance the likelihood of achieving a successful outcome to therapy. All treatments are proven to be both safe and very effective in reducing or eliminating many of the issues that we experience in today’s busy society, for example.

Stress: Stress is becoming more and more prominent in today’s society – why? Because in the busy world we live in we are constantly bombarded with activities and information, time restraints, work, money, family pressures and more; all of which can cause stress. Sometimes our brains and bodies need a break in order to relax and recalibrate; mindfulness and relaxation techniques are wonderful at doing just that. Reducing stress levels is very important as it can often be stress that is the root cause of many other problems.

Insomnia: Around a third of all people experience insomnia at some time or other and its effects can vary from mildly irritating to devastating. In serious or longer term cases, many turn to medication for help and whilst sleeping tablets may work for a little while, they become less effective over time and can become addictive.Quite often, if you are stressed or worried about something then your sleep will be the first to suffer and if allowed to continue, poor sleeping habits can develop. Most long-term poor sleepers have, over time, developed poor sleeping habits and it is these habits that need to be changed if one is to create a lasting solution.

Anxiety: Public speaking, sports or performance anxieties, fears and phobias; these are just a few of the issues that can lead to worry, rumination, panic or avoidance (fight or flight).From general to acute issues, the majority of these problems are caused by a perceived lack of confidence or ability. CBH specifically targets these areas, challenging your fears and boosting your self-confidence to allow you to achieve (within reason) whatever you desire.

Weight control: Many people know the misery of being on and off diets on a regular basis; yo-yoing between trying the latest fad diet and maybe losing a bit of weight, only to see it pile on again as soon as they return to their old eating habits. CBH addresses the root cause of the problem which is why the person is under or overeating in the first place. It is only when we understand the answer to that question that we can progress to address those eating habits and bring about lasting, sustainable change.

Smoking cessation: Everyone knows that smoking is expensive and not exactly good for your health, and about 79% of all adult smokers would like to quit if they could (Gallup poll). Of course you have to be motivated to stop smoking and the CBH approach incorporates different elements to boost that motivation, to question and then eliminate your desire to smoke, because you can only have a craving for something if you have a desire to do it. If you remove the desire, you take away the craving allowing you to stop completely, easily and forever. Hypnotherapy has been proved to be the most effective treatment available (New Scientist Magazine (Vol 136); in fact you are about six times more likely to stop smoking using hypnotherapy than by willpower alone.

If you think you could benefit from CBH why not give Alliance Therapies a call and arrange
your free initial consultation?
Contact Ian Mackenzie on 01273 840382 or email

All about baby massage

By | baby health, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

Written by Charlotte Morgan

When discussing the benefits of baby massage, digestive issues and colic are usually the first to arise. It is true, baby massage is fantastic for aiding the digestive system and soothing colicky babies, but there are so many more benefits and it is important that they are not overlooked.

The bond between parent and child is the strongest in nature and acts as a lifelong template, moulding and shaping your child to ensure they build successful relationships in the future. While it is a very special and unconditional love, bonding is not always immediate and it is completely normal for it to take days, weeks or even months to nurture this special relationship.

Early positive interaction and touch are incredibly important for babies. Touch is their most developed sense at birth and through massage you can communicate love, security and trust to your baby immediately. During massage, parents use positive touch, eye contact, talking/singing and exchange of smells to help to develop their unique attachment and build a loving relationship.

Massaging your baby provides a period of mutual pleasure and focused one-to-one time for both parent and baby to enjoy which enables your baby to feel comfortable and trusting.

This focused time also gives parents the opportunity to observe their baby so they can start to recognise the subtle, non-verbal language they use, and develop their ability to listen to their baby. When parents can understand these cues, and respond to their needs in a positive way, their confidence will start to grow, which can feel very empowering.

When you massage your baby your body releases ‘feel good’ hormones which help you both to relax. Gentle massage is very calming and can help to reduce tension, restlessness and irritability, as well as promoting sleep – enabling babies to fall asleep faster, longer and more deeply.

When a baby is upset or tense, their sympathetic nervous system is activated, which releases stress hormones like adrenaline as a baby prepares for fight or flight. When massaging, cuddling or holding your baby you activate their parasympathetic system, which works against the sympathetic nervous system to restore relaxation by releasing restful hormones like oxytocin and endorphins.

As parents learn massage techniques it increases their ability to help relax their baby in times of stress or distress. Oxytocin has the power to soothe, relax and calm your baby, and even makes you feel more chemically attracted to them.

Baby massage stimulates and supports your baby’s physical, emotional and social development in several ways.

By boosting circulation, you will stimulate all the systems within their body, ensuring the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells, tissues, fibres and organs, helping them to work more efficiently and strengthening muscles and bones.

The immune system is also strengthened by increased stimulation of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for fighting off infection and disease. Babies who are massaged regularly show more weight gain as they have better immune systems and are less likely to be sick.

When babies are born they have no control, co-ordination, emotional thought or awareness of their body. Because their skin is covered in nerve endings, every time they are massaged we are sending messages to their brain to help them understand where their limbs are and how to control them, therefore developing co-ordination, movement and body awareness.

Through stimulation of the skin, the process of myelination is also sped up, enhancing neurological and motor development. Tactile stimulation also improves sensory awareness through touch, eye contact, smell and sound, helping to teach babies about communication, speech and language.

As mentioned above, relief from the discomfort of digestive pain is the most commonly known benefit of baby massage, and massaging the liver and abdomen increases bowel movement by aiding the digestion and excretion of waste. However, massage can also be used for the relief of discomfort associated with teething, colds, congestion and dry skin.

By using special massage techniques around the eyes, cheeks, nose and chest, the pain associated with teething, colds and congestion can all be relieved, and by using nutritious oils during massage the condition of the skin can be improved as you remove dead skin cells, stimulate the sebaceous glands, open pores and lubricate the skin. Stimulation of the skin through massage also increases the production of endorphins which helps to reduce pain and tension.

The benefits of baby massage are so varied and it is a very natural, relaxing and enjoyable way to spend one-to-one time with your baby. Once the techniques have been learnt massage is a fantastic way to connect with your baby at any point in the day, as well as offering relief when needed and encouraging development. I would urge anyone to give it a try!

Charlotte Morgan is the founder of Sweet Pea’s Baby Massage,
a local company who teach baby massage as weekly, one-to-one
or groups at home classes.
Please visit
for more information or to book online today.



Summer safety

By | baby health, children's health, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

Water fascinates young children and it can be a source of great fun and exercise but sadly each year we hear of children drowning at home and abroad.

Even the most caring of parents can become distracted and it only takes three minutes to drown face-down in water, so even if your children are only playing in a paddling pool or if you have a garden with a pond, always supervise them, and if you need to nip inside to answer the door or go to the toilet, take them with you.

The opportunity to swim in the sea or pool is one of the highlights of going on holiday with children, but before you go do check whether the pool has a lifeguard and once there make sure you understand local water safety signs. If you are going to the beach, it is worthwhile asking the hotel reception or tourist information officer which beach offers the safest place to swim. When you first get to a new pool, take a few minutes to check which end is the deep end and to find out if it has a life guard or pool attendant, as their duties differ.

Although children need constant supervision near water, they will be safer if they can swim and know how to get themselves out of difficulty, so book your child into swimming lessons as soon as you can.

The other danger in the summer comes from the sun. Exposing your child to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life and in the short term sunburn can cause considerable pain and discomfort.

Tips to keep you child safe in the sun
• Encourage your child to play in the shade – for example, under trees – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
• Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.
• Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above and is effective against UVA and UVB. Don’t forget to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks, and the tops of their feet. Reapply often throughout the day.
• Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
• Cover your child up in loose cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
• Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
• Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the ‘CE’ mark – check the label.
• If your child is swimming,
use a waterproof sunblock of factor 15 or above. Reapply
after towelling.

Information taken from