Its the end of the school year, and I am having a moment of awe and glory thinking back on how far we have come and how much we have been able to power through with facing some unique learning difficulties with LJ. Its hard to grasp where we are without taking you back to where we have been. I drafted the following on Sept. 5th, too frustrated to finish it that day in its entirety, but now that I’ve made it to the end of one more school year, I have to put it out there.
There is something to be said when your child is in distress and you haven’t the slightest idea of how to help them. My daughter had a moment, a sensory overload so to speak which left her on an island of her own in a pure uncontrollable melt down literally over writing the numbers 4 & 6. I use this analogy of an island, because my husband and I desperately tried to reach out and help her, physically and emotionally trying to cross really rough waters to get to her but in her own isolation, behind the layers of this meltdown she was unreachable. It was incredibly hard to watch, it was even harder to hear, and most importantly it was 100% heartbreaking to feel. When your child is experiencing a moment like this, you can’t help but feel it as much as they do, but as an adult on the outside looking in, it’s sometimes felt with an added seasoning called frustration, glazed in anger which boils down to a lack of understanding.
Welcome to the world of sensory processing disorder, a world that we have been trying to maneuver through for the past 3 years. I have to be honest, I don’t fully understand this world at all, it has such highs and lows and for the most part, we have gotten her in to such a great routine that we rarely have these types of overloads, but when we do even I feel like a failure, because I always find myself wondering “what the hell did I do wrong this time”. I admit, I get frustrated because I don’t know how to immediately help her through and then I get angry at myself that I let her see me get frustrated. I don’t want her to think I am frustrated with her because obviously it’s insult added to injury and I am not frustrated WITH her, I am frustrated that I was unable to prevent her from getting to this overwhelming point and angry that I can’t quickly resolve the problem because I don’t want to see her so hopelessly out of sorts.
Sometimes it seems like it stems from the tiniest tasks, like today, simply writing the number 4 and the number 6, but really it’s much bigger than that. A child her age isn’t able to articulate the root of the problem, that could have been sending her spiraling out of control. For starters, it’s a brand new school year at a brand new school. A school she now knows she will only be in temporarily because she will be moving to a brand new country. She knows none of her peers, not one familiar face her age. She hears not one familiar sound because this school has bells. Bells that ring for everything, like the start of school, the end of homeroom, the start of lunch, the end of lunch, and the end of the day. There is an intercom for announcements and any other message throughout the day. Even though she is loud by nature (sensory nature) her world prior to this was very quiet, her old school had none of this and the second day introduction to this in part was a bit overwhelming. She took it all in stride, but then came home to a Giant moving truck the size of two houses out front of our house because our neighbor is starting her pack-out for her 3 year TDY. That hit her like a ton of bricks because even she said, “this will be us really soon”, as she gazed at an entire house worth of inventory being loaded and hauled away.
Her world is changing quickly in front of her and I had the nerve to ask her to sit down and do homework. I say it in jest, but seriously, I should know by now that my little empath takes it all in, she sees and feels everything and in her little mind has to process it all while trying to manage her own needs and it manifests into what we had today. It manifests into the inability to write the number 4 and 6, something I see as so simple of a task, she saw as so complex that one crooked line in her number 4 and she was instantly defeated. I have to constantly remind myself that as a parent it’s OK to not immediately correct everything, she wants perfection the first time and my failing forward moment as a parent is because she thinks we EXPECT perfect the first time and that’s just not the case. We want her to try her best, and I have to remember that I have to accept what is the best she can do at that time.
Fast forward a school year and our girl has come out on top. With the help of a lot of work at home (morning work out routines for vestibular stimuli), occupational therapy, patience and love, love, and more love, her symptoms now are to most people unrecognizable. She has made the principals honor roll every quarter, is a swim champ, robotics enthusiast, budding Lego/Robotics superstar and Queen of the monkey bars. I just look back at how crushed and defeated she was in the early weeks of this school year, and how confident and accomplished she is at the end. Deep down I know there is a possibility that we could face similar challenges at her new school, in a new country, with a new language, however I am confident that together we have developed some tools to help her articulate her needs and enough patience and understanding to help her get those needs addressed. I can advocate for her better now than I ever could before and her improvements have helped me push to make sure that everyone is on her same page as we move forward. I want her to continue to feel as if she conquered each day like a Boss, and to never have her cry in frustration about feeling “powerless” because she didn’t have the ability to hone in on her own sensory needs. I know how frustrating life can be as an adult and I have strived to handle it to the best of my ability, but can you imagine having those same frustrations as your 6 year old self, not knowing what you know now? I can, and I can assure you, even without Sensory P.D., I wouldn’t have handled half of my challenges as well as my oldest has and she is powering through this diagnosis like a “G”.