Why I Don’t Want To Go To Church: Sensory Overload

Sensory Overload

Hi, this is Stevie. Today I am staying home from church.  I used to like going to church and playing on the airplane.  They have a real airplane that they put together inside the room and I loved it. I would bring my Leap Pad with me and make movies in the airplane.  But then I got overly excited and threw the Leap Pad from the plane and it broke.  I could have hurt people when I did that, but I didn't think of that at the time, I just was having fun. I wanted to record the sound of a crash as it landed. It is one of my favorite sounds.

Well, that day everything changed. I don't like change. I wasn't allowed to bring electronics anymore, because they were afraid someone would get hurt.  So I didn't have my comfort toy anymore. I was using it to focus on so I could block out everything going on around me. Without my comfort toy, I just couldn't find a way to cope with everything happening all at once. 

They also got someone to help me at church so I could go and someone would be able to makes sure I was safe. He is a really nice person. He plays guitar and I really like that.  They also wanted me to be able to participate in the lesson but I found it too hard--not the lesson part but the participate part.  There are a lot of kids that are in my room. It is a huge room but all the kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade are there at the same time.

They can be really loud and sometimes it is too much. It is like the sound is everywhere all at once and reaches through my ears to my insides and echoes and vibrates there. Sometimes it hurts, too. It is like being underwater and unable to swim to the top to reach for air.  But instead of underwater, I am under sound.  Sometimes there is no way up and I just crumble under the pressure of the sound. Sometimes I run out of the area to get to calmer space. And sometimes, sometimes I try to beat it. I try to be louder than the sound around me. Sometimes that makes me rise up above it like a helium balloon rises about the room air.  I don't like that feeling.  

I really don't like it when I feel that way and try to cope the way I know how to, and then all the grown ups freak out on me! They start calling out to me, "Stevie! Come back!"  or "Stevie, you are too loud! Keep your voice down." or sometimes they are scared when I am crumbling and they don't know what to say.  Usually at that point, I am having what doctors call a panic attack because I can't get my head above the noise or movement and I fear I am drowning. I just need to get out when that happens but sometimes I can't move because my body is stuck in fear. I need my Daddy to carry me out when that happens. Once I am in a safe place again, I calm right down and I can play again. 

Besides the sound trying to overpower me and gulp me up, there are so many people there and they are all moving or running around. I never know where the kids will end up or where they are going to, so I don't know what I should do, where I should be so they don't run into me. Sometimes there is so many people moving around that I just want to hide somewhere...to be alone and stop the constant motion around me. I guess it kind of makes me feel like you would feel, if you were car sick.  I like car rides though.

Car rides are different because I stay still in my seat while the whole car moves and usually it moves at the same speed.  And other cars are on the road driving in front of me or behind me, or beside me. Sometimes they are going the other way but  everyone is driving at the same pace and in a way that makes sense. There is order to it.  In the classroom, there is no order. Kids are just moving fast in an unpredictable manner.  I like predictable.

Well, that is my story, of why I don't want to go to church today. Maybe some day I will try it again but today I just keep telling my mom, "No, no church please?"

(This was written by my mom, to the best of her ability to understand me. She really hopes that one day I will be able to write things like this all by myself, so others can understand me better.  I like it when people understand me.) 

Disclaimer: The way Stevie may feel as portrayed in this blog in no way reflects reality. His Sunday School class is awesome, led by incredibly gifted and loving people who would never cause an unsafe place for anyone, and would never "freak out" or in any way yell at anyone.  They have bent over backwards to make "church" work for Stevie and the other kids at church. I could not ask for a better place to worship or bring my kids to learn about God. This was written from a sensory point of view, as we assume Stevie may perceive things as they happen, not as they actually happen.


Playing Hide and Seek

Where's Princess Buttercup?

For the second time today, I lost Sketch. (Note:  this was written a few weeks ago)

But, before I go into that story, let me give you some background information.

There has been a bit of a theme around here, with the game Hide-And-Seek. The other day, the twins Dash and Princess Buttercup were playing this game together in the basement.  It was so fun to watch them play and hear them laugh together...well, until Princess comes out crying because Dash stopped looking for her and she was waiting in her hiding place for quite a while.  He got distracted by something he suddenly considered to be more fun. Oh, the joys of ADHD along with the lack of awareness of social rules or how his behavior effects others!

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me introduce to you the cast of characters: Sketch is our 6 years old boy, with autism/adhd/anxiety.  Dash & Princess Buttercup are 9 year old twins. Dash also has autism/adhd, and Polkadot, is our 6 month old baby girl.

Back to today. The first time Sketch went missing was at church when he wandered off after Sunday School.  In his mind, he followed the rules. The teacher told him, "You need to stay in this room until your parents come."  And, he did.  And when we got there, he left...sigh... At least he was found (after much heart pounding) and he was very much ok.  He looked up at me with a smirk and said, "Hide-And-Seek?"

Sketch must have been noticing what the other kids in Sunday School were doing, because another child was also "missing" today.  It turned out that she was playing Hide-And-Seek but her mom was not aware of this.  As her mom and the Sunday School teachers looked for her, Dash was pointing to the hiding place saying, "She's in here!" but ironically, no one listened to him.

Fast forward to later on this afternoon. Sketch went missing again!  When I realized it was very quiet in the house, I called out to Mr. Incredible who was laying on the couch, "Where's Sketch?"  Off in the not-so-distant bedroom came his cute little voice under his bright red and green VeggieTales comforter, "Here I am!"  (This is the first time he's ever answered that unprompted!)

This morning, as we drove to church, we drove by another church with a sign displaying 2 Chronicles 15:2 "If you seek Him, He will be found by you".

Seems like God likes to play Hide-And-Seek as well.  Problem is... sometimes we aren't seeking...or maybe we were and we got distracted by something that seems to be more interesting.  Or, maybe we are seeking but like so often happens, we can't see what's right before our eyes until somebody else calls our attention to it saying, "Here He is!  He's in here!"

The nice thing about Hide-And-Seek with God is that He will always be found by you.  If call for him, he will answer "Here I am" just like Sketch did this afternoon.

The question is, are we listening?

Here I am!

Jeremiah 29:13-14: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,“and will bring you back from captivity.