Autism Acceptance Week – Moshi User Story from an Autism Mom
My name is Bexy, and I’ve been working with Moshi since 2011 on various products. I am writing this at the start of World Autism Acceptance Week; a time when I reflect on my journey. It is a special week for us and a time to give thanks for being able to love, protect, and nurture such a joyful little person.
I wanted to share my story and experience of using Moshi, not because I work here, but because I am a mum – a mum with first-hand experience of two very different children.
I have a daughter who is now 13-years-old and a son who is 7-years-old. Elliot, my son, was diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum shortly after his third birthday.
When Elliot was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3, I was so relieved! Relieved, not because of the diagnosis itself, but because I was right to push for it. I didn’t push for a label – I pushed because I knew he would need extra support. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. I cried because I was right, and I cried because the professionals were wrong in asking me to wait. His voice was dependent on me, so I would be his voice.
I was a pushy mum, a mum who wanted answers. I am the voice for my child and I cried because I gave him that. Since I have read so much about early intervention, I did not understand why I was being asked to wait. What was the harm in starting the process as soon as it was raised? Many children are being left behind and diagnosed much later in life by this ‘wait and see’ philosophy. I was extremely relieved that I gained so much confidence in pushing for what was right for my son.
His autism diagnosis wasn’t unexpected. We knew he was a special little boy, so this was just a new phase of his life to help him along.
Along the way, we have figured out Elliot’s needs and have adapted our lives accordingly. Our daughter has grown up with Elliot’s differences and is so accepting of him. Elliot needs more time than she does, and she’s very good at accepting it. It has a lot to do with their age difference. I am very impressed with her inclusiveness. No matter how different someone is, she accepts them into her life. She has grown up helping me take care of Elliot, and as a result, this experience has made her a better, more accepting and more understanding young lady. Elliot is such a joy. Of course, I wish he didn’t have some struggles but I wouldn’t change him for the world. Elliot’s autism has made him the most thoughtful, caring, extremely intelligent, and a pure joy to be around. Autism has touched all of our lives positively.
Sleep was the only thing we had difficulty figuring out. He has always had a hard time coping with noise, touch and smell. Getting ready for bed had never been an easy process for him. He hated being alone, and he just didn’t want to go into a room by himself. We would spend hours lying in bed with him, his mind racing at the speed of light. Since Elliot was non-verbal until the age of four, communication used to frustrate him. He wanted to learn and ask questions, but he wasn’t able to. At night, he couldn’t use the picture cards we used for communication. In addition, he only knew the basics of sign language, so he was very frustrated.
I wasn’t a first-time mom, but one who had a different child who needed something extra, something alternative to help him settle down. Queue the internet searches… Who hasn’t sat with a newborn in arms during a nighttime feed looking at the internet for hours at a time, asking, “How can I make my child fall asleep? HELP ME!” I thought I knew parenting and sleep, but clearly, I was mistaken.
I tried bed tents, nightlights with projectors, and nightlights that included sound effects like forest sounds, ocean sounds, whale sounds, etc. We tried lavender, sensory massages, washing machines, vacuums, baths (don’t get me started on sensory processing and baths! ), you name it, we tried it.
Then Moshi was born and I was so excited to give it a shot. My daughter started using it straight away. She immediately fell asleep, at 7 she was the perfect age to use the app and was excited about new stories. Unfortunately, Elliot did not respond to the stories so I was somewhat disappointed. How can it work for one and not the other? Seven years prior, I had downloaded pink noise onto a tiny little MP3 player for my daughter when she was a baby. So, after about 3 hours of searching, I remembered we had a selection of white and pink noises on the app.
It’s one of those Mum brain moments. I worked for the company. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? Away goes the hoover, and on comes the Moshi Pink Noise. What… wait… 10 minutes in, and all the internet shopping completed, I look up and he’s asleep. I knew Moshi worked for a lot of parents and I knew the app worked. However, to have it work for my special little boy, with a brain that didn’t seem to shut down, made me love the company even more. To my ears’ delight, we moved on to Gombala Rain Showers, as the Pink noise didn’t quite do it for me!
The app evolved over time, as did Elliot. Two months after his fourth birthday, some words were spoken, then more and more. Some were unrecognizable, others were very clear. One of the most obvious was ‘SleepyPaws’. He must have heard my daughter listening to it, so we tried a story after a year of sounds, and hey presto Boom, SleepyPaws did it!
Anyone with a child on the Autism Spectrum (or on the spectrum themselves) knows that change may not be tolerable, so bedtime is SleepyPaws all the way. No deviations, no compromises, his way or no way. When I am listening to Steve (‘the Director of Dozing’) tell us how he comes up with the stories and how he creates the sounds, I am in awe of how his mind works. I desperately want Elliot to listen to these new stories, but alas my requests fall on routine-driven ears!
Our lives have now become enriched with Moshi, and not just during bedtime. Occasionally, Elliot needs some quiet time during the day. Whenever he wants to be alone, he takes a favorite toy with labels and his favorite blanket with him. He didn’t realize there was a daytime section on the app until recently. Now, he usually takes an iPad to his own space and chooses a track from the daytime section. SleepyPaws seems to be all he wants at bedtime. That is his nighttime story and daytime he will choose anything else.
During the lockdown in 2020, I was amazed at how much the app was relied upon. I remember sitting at the computer with him during his first live session. All these kids were pumped up about seeing their friends and going crazy. In fact, I was quite smug since we’d just sat down and listened to Goldie’s Five-Minute Brain Break, so he was quite relaxed before our session. 10 points to Mum!
If you have a child with a neurodevelopmental condition, like autism, or even a neurotypical child, my advice is to persevere. I’m so glad I didn’t give up with the app on the first try of a story and that I explored different areas, since it’s working far better than I could imagine, and his temperament and frustrating moments have improved considerably.
My top 6 tips for using Moshi:
Involve – Have a look at the stories as something fun to do so your child is involved with the choice. They may get excited by choosing which one to play.
Persevere – If one section doesn’t work, explore the other areas, there is so much content to choose from. Don’t give up on the first try, keep trying because you may find at some point, it will work.
Enjoy – Have fun with the app, make it less about what you need your child to do, and more of a tool that they want to use.
Routine – Make it part of your daily routines.
Daytime – Use it in the daytime, there are so many different times the app can be used, you just need to work out what works best for your child and what works best for that particular moment.
Breathe – Take a minute each day to focus on breathing, use the breathing section to help regulate. Adults – try it too because it sure does help!