I don’t have all of the answers… Who are we kidding? I probably don’t even have half of them. I’m not a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. I’m a mom, a wife, a teacher and my perspective comes from these experiences.
Although signs were there since infancy and looking back now, I see all of them and then some; year two was by far the toughest for my son and for me. The terrible two’s they say. I dug deep into my child development tool belt, put my mommy armor on and got to work. We “super nannied” it with the best of them. We did time outs, I put him back into his toddler bed for literally hours, and we sat at the dinner table crying over chicken potpie.
I didn’t know tantrums were really meltdowns.
I didn’t know that the anxiety of transitioning was so high.
I didn’t know that the texture of foods mixed together was unbearable.
I could never tie his shoes tight enough. Forget wearing any clothing I had picked out for him. Pick your battles, they say. Getting him out of his fleece “softy” pajamas during any given day was a feat. Sleeping through the night was a figment of our imagination. Cry it out, they say. He was motor driven by an activity level that never seemed to satisfy his need.
I didn’t know that constant pressure gave him a sense of himself in space.
I didn’t know certain fabrics felt like sandpaper on his skin.
I didn’t know that the sound of the refrigerator on another level of the house kept him from sleeping.
I didn’t know that his need for gross motor input was a constant for balance and discovery of body movement.
We turned clothing inside out and cut all tags out. I could never place the seams of his socks perfectly enough so he wore them inside out. It’s your parenting, they say. Band-Aids made him panic and at one point pass out in my arms. He’ll grow out of it, they say. The sound of a garbage bag opening made him cover his ears and hide. Baths in the evening, yikes.
I didn’t know light touches to his skin were all consuming thoughts.
I didn’t know the feeling of pulling a Band-Aid off had passing out as a coping mechanism.
I didn’t know loud, unexpected sounds were painful.
We arrived at his three-year well check. He wore one of the typical gowns provided and you would have thought he was wearing a blanket of thumbtacks. It took all we had to get him to keep it on long enough for our pediatrician to enter the room. I remember the moment our doctor asked if there were any other reactions to touch that seemed similar to his reaction to the gown. It was like the flood gates had opened and without even having to think about it, I rattled off a laundry list. It was like I was waiting for someone to ask me that very question, but I just didn’t know it. A pressure had been lifted off of my chest as though I had been keeping it all hidden there. Hidden from judgment and criticism.
We walked out of that appointment with a referral for an occupational therapy evaluation and with it came a sense of relief. I wasn’t a horrible parent. I wasn’t making it up. I just didn’t know. This was the beginning of knowing and understanding and it made a space for kindness and compassion to follow. That day, I became one step closer to my son. I see him and I hear him. Now I know, and this was the beginning of our journey together through the lens of sensory processing differences.
If you have ever felt this way as a parent, we strongly encourage you to please consider joining us for our Open House or a program. We can do this, together.