One of the most challenging and sometimes comical parts of parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder is that it can be so mysterious. And when I say that here is what I mean. On any particular day, one thing may bother her and the next day it doesn’t. It is always down to the finest details. A couple of weeks ago I had posted this photo on my facebook page.
And I subtitled it, “The mystery of SPD…dresses and skirts not OK but pirate dress costume TOTALLY OK!!”
There is so much of our life that we have to live in such extreme precision that trying to figure out all of the mysteries of SPD is exhausting. It challenges us in parenting. It pushes us to frustration and sometimes even makes us laugh just a little. When others don’t understand the mystery of it, it reminds me how well I know my child.
The other day Miss Sensory was spending time with her grandma. And normally at grandma’s house she loves to do anything and everything her grandma is doing. Grandma asked her if she wanted to help wash tomatoes and Miss Sensory refused. No matter what grandma did she couldn’t get her to wash the tomatoes with her. I simply asked Miss Sensory why and she very clearly told me she didn’t want to get her hands wet. Now this is my child that LOVES swimming. And for some reason today was a day she did absolutely not want to get wet! But, if I would have said swimming she would have said yes. To this day if she gets a drop of water on her clothes they immediate must be taken off, because that is completely not ok.
The way our kids process the daily sensory battles changes daily. What they are able to tolerate one day may be completely intolerable the next.
Food is another mystery in our house. Texture of course is a huge mystery. Cooked carrots can easily be too soft or too hard. Strawberries if too ripe are also too soft.
Clothing really is something that challenges us at our house. This year we bought several Nike t-shirts and they all appear the same. However, this mystery resolves around the sleeves as something about some of them feels differently to Miss Sensory. And, oh for the love of shoes, this is one mystery I may not ever solve. They need to be tight, they need to feel just right.
I’m sure you can think of a few mysteries in your house, I’d love for you to share them in the comments!
To be totally honest, I think Sensory Processing Disorder alone is a mystery for most professionals, teachers and parents. It’s a disorder that doesn’t always make sense. It’s confusing, its not a one size fits all diagnosis. Every single child has a completely different set of sensory challenges and symptoms. It makes it hard to diagnose, it makes it hard to treat and it makes it hard to parent.
Now in all seriousness, although these seem like small issues, as a parent I know how they can annoy and frustrate you very quickly.
So how do you deal with these?
- Anticipate. As soon as you see a pattern or any type of correlation start to anticipate this and solve as many mysteries as you can.
- Embrace the constant change. I am a super type A person. I dislike change and chaos. I love structure and organization and sameness. So, for me this is very frustrating when one day one thing is not ok and the next day it isn’t. It also makes suggestion #1 really challenging!
- Recognize your child is having a hard time and not GIVING you a hard time. I know that it often seems like your child is being disobedient or just trying to be defiant. But as a parent sometimes it is really hard for us to see and for them tell us what is REALLY bothering them.
- Let go and laugh. Laugh at how one brand of strawberries is ok but another one isn’t. Laugh at how one day taking a bath is such a challenge because your child doesn’t want to get wet when 2 hours ago she was swimming in the lake.
Not all the mysteries may make sense to us. But to our kids they know. It makes sense to them. They are doing their best to cope with the sensory challenges around them. They know what bothers them and often they are so smart about finding ways to cope with them.
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