Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sensory Child

“ You would never get way for this kind of behavior with me. Your mother is too nice.”

I have heard my daughter being told this too many times now and as a mother I’ve cringed inside every single time and wanted to explain myself that I wasn’t spoiling her a bit. In fact, I was really hard on her. But at all instances I kept silent knowing I would never be able to explain our challenges and the other person would not understand. I just distanced us from them as much as I could.

There have been too many occasions, where my friends thought I was too uptight when I wanted to return home with my daughter at a decent time from a get-together or wanted to stick to our regular week day meal times on weekends knowing the aftermath I would have to face for breaking schedule. Friends and family would walk over eggshells around my daughter not knowing what’s going to spark an outburst from her. As a result, they all somehow ended up treating her a bit differently than the other kids in the room.

I’ve also always wondered if these other parents judged me when I didn’t make too big of a deal if my daughter wouldn’t smile, say hi, thank you or goodbye knowing the result of putting her on the spot would be far worse than the current situation, if I did. She, however, was constantly reminded that she does need to say those things and be polite. But it wouldn’t happen right then and there, no matter how hard I tried.

By the time my daughter was three, I knew something was out of sync. I knew that, because I am not one of those parents who will be blind to all my child’s antics.  I had unfortunately been one of those judgmental parents myself before I had my own kid. And I had promised myself that my kid would never get away with most of the stuff I see other kids doing or saying.

So when after years and years of not giving in, being consistent with discipline, and not taking any crap, we continued to have the same problems, I realized something was off. She seemed to have been born with a switch that toggled between an extremely happy and an extremely unhappy/mad kid with no middle ground. Sometimes the reasons were not clear to us as parents, let alone other people we socialized with and our family members who just thought she was spoilt.

A few years ago, I was determined I was going wrong somewhere with this whole parenting gig. The world around me sure made me feel that way. It was time I sought help. After my counselor heard the challenges I was having, she advised I get my daughter evaluated by an Occupational Therapist. To her, it seemed like my daughter had some sensory issues. I had no idea what that meant at the time. So I started reading.

The more I read, the more I began to understand why getting dressed, brushing teeth, taking a shower, going to school, riding in the car, socializing – almost everything with her was such a challenge and a constant battle. Mostly all her senses, especially that of touch and sound, are extremely heightened and they bother her to no extent. As her therapist later had explained to me – imagine being pricked by a 1,000 needles all at once – that’s how she feels when she wears certain clothing. And she cannot explain that to you and you have no way of understanding why she is throwing such a tantrum. Not because she is spoilt – she wants to be in something that comforts her.

Comfort and security is something she seeks at all times. Kids with sensory issues are uncomfortable most of the time. Being unable to express their discomfort, these kids tend to become very insecure, irritable, frustrated, afraid and rigid. They need extreme structure and operate well within a consistent schedule.

Doctors will not recognize sensory integration as a medical problem and will not refer you for therapy. Once a pediatrician told me – your daughter does not need any occupational therapy. She’s just being a kid and you just need to stay consistent with discipline. Some have told me I am overreacting and of course there were those who will constantly harp on the fact that I spoil her and am responsible for all ill actions. Lately, of course, there is the divorce and most all her reactions are believed to be because of our “situation”.

I am done with crap people throw at me constantly. I am done with those who are not there to help but can only point fingers and be judgmental. I have a beautiful, extremely smart, creative and loving daughter and all I want, is to provide her with skills and tools to be able to grow up in to this wonderful human being in her own right. The past six years have not been an easy ride of any sort – not for any one of us – but this year is the year of hope and the year of building our futures – and build we shall.

Why do I write about this you ask? Knowing very well most people might start thinking my child has a “problem” and be judgmental anyways? I write about this because I am a changed person. I write about my experiences because I would like you to change your thoughts as well – to have more patience, to understand, recognize, be aware, love, and most importantly take an extra step whenever you get a chance, because, who I see here is a child who can sparkle up your life as much as she sparkles mine.


MACMD said...

No two children are the same and we have always loved Evani exactly the way she is. Love you too. I know this was hard to write. So proud of you for this. Hugs.

kimber said...

I understand you and connect with this blog, your sentiments and your belief in your child's incredible gifts to the world on a deep and very intimate level. Hopefully, this strong, coureageous writing will educate and inspire people to be more open, patient and accepting and also be a point of strength to any mom still rattled by the finger know, the ones who look for what pulls us apart instead of what brings us together. This was beautiful.

Jessica Waterbury said...

I'm glad you posted this. I have friends in the same boat and I know they will be helped & comforted by your words. Much love to you and your family!

Joy @CGBC Youth said...

Your blog has something against me. I typed up a long essay, but now it's GONE!!

Anyway...this truly is a courageous post. I'm glad you did. Truth be told I never noticed (ok, I just don't get to see you guys enough!!!) and as a parent I know just how hard it is to parent. There are so many things that we cannot control, and I've had to learn to let others words go (yeah right...I suck at that) and know that I know my kids best, and I'm doing my best, and whoever else wants to help me parent can just #$%@#$^@$%@#$!@#%! I am sending you a big hug...until I get to see you again!