I am a sarcastic, silly mom of two boys and one daughter. Know that I am including info about our own personal journey with some hard issues. Obviously, other people have their own experiences and opinions. We love our kids with every part of our being but let me tell you, parenting is not always easy. Even on a good day, a child with any type of “special need” can be exhausting. Quick word of advice before we dive into a bit of good info…support your friends whose children may need more time, more attention, more patience. Invite them over. Let them talk about their kids without you feeling awkward. It’s okay. Your friends will thank you for it.
One more thing….this may get a big “rambly”. I so wish to share every single thing that I know, so that every other Mom (and Dad) can avoid that panicked feeling of not knowing what the heck the doctors, therapists, etc., are talking about! You’ve been warned.
Having a child with “special needs”, we know way more acronyms than we should. Sensory Processing Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (now only referred to as Autism) have afforded our child Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy, Social Skills class (who knew their child may need to be taught how to play?) and an Individualized Education Plan. Do you see why we shorten these crazy terms? Now. A quick tutorial on what all of these letters mean…
SPD= not being able to process all of the sensory input that the world throws at you. Can you name all of your senses? SPD affects every one of them. It’s hard gagging at the sight of guacamole and pennies, playdoh and broken food! What about when something cold hurts your hands if you hold it? Not being able to enjoy the playground because people keep running into you, knocking you off balance and you not having time to figure out if you should run with them or if they are running past….no fun for a kid. If you have SPD, then therapies, intentional play, LOTS of sensory input, schedules and routine all help.
PDD-NOS=on the Autism spectrum; symptoms overlap a lot with SPD…social settings are so hard! Imagine not being able to read social cues, pick up on sarcasm (not good in the Garrick house), not being able to hear only the person talking to you, but every buzz and word said around you. Makes it hard to listen…maybe I’ll just tune out instead. The more I learn about sensory issues, the more I think that this over processed, super sonic paced world we live in contributes to all of the above mentioned symptoms, diagnoses and labels. Edit: Guess what? PDD-NOS isn’t an official diagnosis anymore. Oh well!
IEP=what your child will need if he is to get help at school! Know what you need and ask for it specifically. Keep asking. Ask again. Does your child with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder have trouble asking for help? He/she could use language therapy. (use the word “pragmatic” with pride!) Social skills classes help him/her learn to play appropriately. Important stuff! Easy suggestions for early elementary school: request movement breaks, a written or picture schedule, sensory items readily available in the classroom, a wiggle seat, exercise bands around chair legs, weighted pencils, preferential seating… I could go on and on. Kids who struggle in school need routine.
J has received a variety of therapies and is doing really, really well. LOTS of hard work! I’ve been to more appointments than I can count. Caleb is the absolute best big brother possible. He has a sensitive soul. We have learned to slow down (a little) and enjoy the ride. The most important part of all of this is that we have 2 sons that enjoy being kids and are best buds. Our daughter is full force from dawn to dusk and needs a lot of input and output, too.
One last thought….while I have no idea what really causes any of this, I do firmly believe that good nutrition, sleep and intentional play are huge. I guess you would call that a more biomedical approach. We’ve added vitamins and probiotics, adjusted our diet, do flips through the living room and have learned about proprioception and vestibular input until my brain could explode. We control what we can and deal with the rest, but isn’t that true for everyone?