I could write several articles on EACH of the senses when it comes to this topic. There are so many variances and combinations of what each child with Sensory Processing Disorder experiences, and that’s WITHOUT Autism in the mix.
We tend to see a child that misbehaves and acts quirky and defiant. I often get told that my child lacks discipline. Folks, this is a neurological dysfunction. These children have no control over the way their nervous system processes sensory input.
I have a fantastic project in the works to share with you about Sensory Processing Disorder. But today, we’ll keep it short and sweet. Today we’re going to put ourselves in the shoes of a child with sensory integration issues.
- Parts of your body were numb regularly, and you couldn’t tell if you were sitting in the middle or on the edge of your chair. Then you fell off the chair and got in trouble for it.
- Your clothes felt as if they were made of steel wool and insulation.
- The humming of the lights in your office sounded louder than your boss’ voice and you couldn’t pay attention to what he or she was instructing you to do for the meeting.
- You walked into a restaurant to eat and could smell the cleaning supplies as if they were right beneath your nose. It made you too nauseous to eat.
- Every little sound and movement competed equally for your attention – from bird sounds to footsteps down the hall to someone showing a co-worker how to change the copier paper across the office.
- You broke things frequently because you couldn’t tell how hard you were squeezing or holding them. Then similar items fell through your hands the next time you tried to “do it better”.
- You couldn’t tell when your bladder was full until the moment it was about to burst, but you weren’t allowed to take a break once you realized this.
- The lights made you squint from the brightness every single day, delivering pounding headaches from the strain.
- Whispers sounded like yells and light, affectionate brushes on your skin felt like sandpaper.
- You felt assaulted by parts of your clothing – the seams in your socks, the tag in your shirt kept painfully nagging at you.
- Every 15 or 20 minutes your muscles felt like they were going to burst and your nerve endings were on fire. The only relief would be from doing jumping jacks, running, or crashing into something, but you are not allowed to get up.
- You know in your mind what you want to write but the message takes so long to get from your brain to your hand that you give up trying.
IMAGINE sitting in your living room and turning up the TV as loud as it will go. Imagine all the lights in the room had been replaced with 100-watt bulbs. Your chair is wobbly, you’re wearing your younger sister’s clothes that don’t quite fit, and your spouse is yelling for you to sit still and listen to him recount his day. All you can smell is the garbage that desperately needs to go out and the dog is scratching at the door urgently. When you try to tend to any of these things or seek refuge from them, you get yelled at; yet you don’t know why.
What if you couldn’t stop any of this? What if every single moment of every single day was like this for you?
What if you were just a child and didn’t know that it wasn’t like this for everyone? I challenge you to shake up your perspective a bit. It may not make your experience as a parent less exhausting or frustrating, but it WILL change your level of compassion and understanding. That’s when change really starts.