Love/Hate

Anger is powerful emotion. It destroys and distances relationships; secludes and isolates people. I see it flicker in my son’s eyes like a flame. I feel it ache in my bones when it gets the better of me. These moments are the most raw between us; certainly not part of my proudest either. Broken doors, broken feelings, broken spirits. With every fierce meltdown early on in our journey I felt he was different, less himself, distanced. I have never been so mad at anything in my entire life and angry would be one of the last words anyone would use to describe me.

 

I am not mad at him. I have a love hate relationship with Sensory Processing Disorder. My mom always said that hate is a strong word… I think the shoe fits.

 

I want only to be the one that takes the anger and hurt for him as a shield, but I can’t.  Why him? Why us? Why Sensory Processing Disorder? These I may never know. The anger bubbles up at certain stretches of time and sometimes it lingers longer than others. I force myself to find the positive, focus on the good, and be a protector and guider of him and all that he is.

 

The fiery moments fueled by the traffic jam that is Sensory Processing Disorder are fewer and farther between now that we have worked so hard together as a family to better understand, seek support, and implement strategies. For every moment anger creeps back in, I reflect on how it has changed us, me, for the better.

 

I fear the next anger uprising because sometimes there is no warning. Other times it can feel like an anxious ticking time bomb; knowing it will detonate. He has made me quick on my feet and better able to spontaneously problem solve.

 

I hate that he never stops, seems to be run by a motor and it’s exhausting to keep up with. I love that his little legs have already pedaled their way to a two-wheeler, skated their way to hockey lessons, and run up and down a soccer field with the most energy and excitement I have ever seen.

 

I live in a constant heightened state of awareness of the onslaught of environmental splatter. I love that he has made me more sensitive to what is around me and how it affects others.

 

I thought I had a grasp on parenting out of the gate with my multiple degrees of education and child development. He has kept me humble and honest.

 

I hate that the sounds of everyday life sometimes require headphones and directions need to be repeated over and over again but I love the look on his face when he listens to the pure sound of a violin.

 

I live in a world just one meltdown away at any moment. He has taught me not to care what others may think and not to judge or criticize. You don’t know what you don’t know.

 

For all of the lows there are equal highs. He has taught me balance.

 

I hate that he has to feel different but I love that he is unique.

 

He is so fixated and orderly that the rigidity drives our every move but he can identify any car on the road, can give you a slue of fascinating facts about our solar system, and builds Lego creations in a flash.

 

I hate using my CPI training hold but I love his compression hugs.

 

Some days, appointments, and meetings are heavy and emotional. He gave me a better appreciation for laughter and a sense of humor. He has given me a spark and strength. I am a better teacher and advocate.

 

I hate the constant night waking. He has taught me to relish the simplicity of a full nights sleep.

 

With the rage comes his passion. He has given me a true understanding of unconditional love.

 

For every anger filled question of why, there is a silver lining. Sometimes I have to step back and look closely to find it, but it’s there. It is the time of year when dandelions are blooming; some see the weed and some see the wish…

 

Please consider sharing a comment or a personal experience that you have had.  Together, we can raise awareness.  Please consider joining us for our special events as well.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, which one is he?

So, which one is he?

As we shared more of our story and met new people, that is usually one of the first questions that is asked.  Besides being a “mini me” version of yours truly, our hope and goal is that observers can’t tell.  It means that the therapy and the tools that Team Ogilvy are trying to provide our son are working.  For now.  It is always there; always will be there. What may work today for our son and his unique set of needs may not be the tools that work tomorrow. What sets him off today, he could be indifferent to tomorrow. Every day is a new adventure.  We will continue learning about each other and what we can do to grow.  Our hope is that our son has a tool kit to draw from in those experiences that make him feel anxious or out of sorts.  It could be a certain activity that regulates the feelings inside and brings him back to center.  It could be a question that we ask him to trigger a tool he may need to apply for himself.  Our aim is for him to be able to draw upon these tools independently.  As days go by, the tools become more comfortable to use.  It has taken Emily and I some time to identify the types of triggers for him. 

 

A few months ago, our son and I were playing on the bed.  He longs for crashing and jumping as one of those mechanisms to bring him back to center.  As he partakes in his variety of crashing moves that resemble a WWE match, we like to talk.  I ask questions that I hope will spawn answers that can help me understand how he is feeling.  On most days, he shares very little and tries to change the subject.  It’s how he is.  Very little is shared about school or his day.  But on this particular day, he offered up much information.  My goal is to scaffold with him to identify where things are coming from using the “3 why” method.  For example, 

 

Me: “Why do we need to jump today?” 

Our son: “Because it makes me feel better.”

Me: “Why does it make you feel better?”

Our son: “Because it spreads the blood out.”

Looking dumbfounded and highly confused (which is a regular look for me), my response was…

Me: “Wait, what?”

 

As you can see on this day, I didn’t even get to third “why.”  He totally blew my mind.  He looked me square in the eyes and said, “Daddy, it feels like all of the blood is right here.”  As he pointed to the center of his chest, he continued by saying, “jumping and crashing, spreads the blood out.” With his hand he showed me how it spread out to his limbs as if almost releasing him from an inner cage. 

 

I was floored.  I felt as if I was in a foreign country and I was able to finally communicate with someone.  Our son was able to give us a small tidbit into what he felt, in his own words.  As far away as I felt in the bathtub months prior, I felt a few steps closer to him on this day. Now I know.

I looked at him and smiled for a second and thought to myself, “No sh*t.” He of course, in his tremendous candor and bluntness, snapped me back into the moment.  He looks at me and says, “We need to keep going so the blood can spread out.  Come on, Daddy!  You don’t want the blood to go back, do you?”  And with that, we were back to crashing.

 

He inspires me with his strength and perseverance every day.  His persistent fight to regulate.  It is what you don’t see.  He doesn’t know any different.  It’s who he is.  He fights so hard to hold it all together sometimes.  Emily and I have tried our best to build a supportive team around him. From our pediatrician...to our caring family...to our thoughtful friends...to his understanding and flexible teachers at school...to his therapists who push him to grow at each session...and his beloved “Auntie.”  They are all members of Team Ogilvy.  This group of wonderful people help our son to be himself…to feel confident…to feel comfortable in his own skin.  To be my superhero.

Which one is he you ask?  The one that drives his mother and I crazy.  The never ending puzzle.  The one that inspires me in the pursuit of growth as we navigate this world together. 

 

Which one is he?  Hopefully you may never know based on his unique needs.  The hope Emily and I have is that he will be noticed for some crazy idea he has or some project he creates.  Through communication and questioning, we will learn more about our son and as a result, learn more about ourselves.

 

We can raise awareness for sensory processing together!  There are two great ways to connect with us and join our Super Hero Team.  

1.  Please consider joining us for our Open Houses, Mini-Sessions, or Sensory Camp if this sounds familiar.  We would be happy to help!

2.  Like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter!

Thanks for all of your support.  Have a great weekend!

Now I know.

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.

I didn't know what to do.

I didn’t know what to do.

I have worked with kids in some capacity since I was 16 years old.  I could connect with children in the classroom, on the field, and in the gym.  But there I was trying to wash him in the bathtub, an arms length away from our blue-eyed little boy feeling a million miles apart. 

 

I didn’t know what to do.  And it hurt.

 

It was the first time, and probably the last, that I had raised my voice to this little red headed “mini-me.”  We both had a range of emotions running through us.  Frustration.  Anger.  Sadness.  Disappointment.  I couldn’t comfort him.  I couldn’t calm him.  I couldn’t ease that inner feeling of upset that he obviously had.  He could't put the words to how he felt.  And to make it worse, we were 500 miles from home.

 

I didn’t know what to do.  And it hurt.  And I think I scared him.

 

I am sure the whole street may have heard us.  By the time Emily came rushing in, she could tell how upset I was at myself and at the situation.  Why was he so upset over a simple bedtime routine? Why was he feeling this way?  What could I do better to help him from responding this way to us?  I desired the opportunity to wrap my arms around him and tell him it would be ok and we loved him.  I wanted to wash away his upset and let it drip down the drain.  But I couldn’t.

 

Some of the answers to these questions we have discovered and lived in to.  Some we feel we have a grasp on one day, and then lose the next.  Still others sometimes feel like an incredible master lock that we wonder if we will ever crack the code.

 

All I know is this.  I love this little boy.  He is my super hero.  He has made me a better person each and every day I have been around him.  Despite the meltdowns, the days we feel we are speaking different languages, or the times he lashes out, I would choose him in 100 lifetimes, in 100 worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find him and choose him.

 

Without a doubt.

 

If you have ever felt this way with your child, I hope you join us on our journey.  Feeling on an island can sometimes be a recurring emotion that you may have as a parent when your child has these moments.  When you can’t figure it out.  When talking makes it worse.  When you think a hug may make it better, but it over stimulates your child even more.

 

Trust me, we get it.  We have been there.  Let’s travel together on this voyage.  For our kids…and our grandkids…and our great grandkids. 

 

Our goal is to encourage, enlighten, and educate about sensory processing through family based integrated activities.  Our goal was to give our son every possible tool in his toolkit that would help him navigate through the wide ranging life experiences that he may come across.

 

I made one promise to our son after this experience.  He would never walk alone.  We would pursue growth.  Together.  We would learn and flourish.  Together.  Side by side.

 

We all have our tough days, but we can band together to form a tribe with the same mission.  We very much appreciate your courage to connect.  Please like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/couragetoconnectcle to walk with us!

 

We hope to see you at our Open Houses as well!