Sensational Successes

Sensational SuccessesThis past month has been an attention grabber. It seems every time I turn around, there is another great improvement my son has made staring me in the face.  Both my boys with autism have changed remarkably since they were toddlers.  So for this post, I want to focus on all the improvements—things I never thought I’d see—to offer some encouragement and hope to those of you who are in the trenches wondering if it will always be as hard as it is right now.

Here are a few highlights of the great gains Stevie has made:

* Stevie used to refuse to walk under a ceiling fan or hanging lights.  They terrified him!  He wouldn't even walk under a hanging light or fan to get to me if I was on the other side.  He'd start to walk, then stare at the fan dangling down as if it were just floating in air ready to crash upon his fragile frame at any minute. For the longest time, I had to pick him up to carry him past the Terminator-fans (and lights).

And here he is today:

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*  Stevie has always been very tactile defensive. He didn’t like soft touches—or if he did, it ticked him..a lot!  Because of his defensiveness, he would NEVER pick blueberries with us. He would come, and he would play in the nice, neat rows the orchard provided but he would not pick the blueberries. Reaching in to the bushes, past all those branches that scrape across his sensitive arms…it was just too much. And for what? He wouldn’t touch a blueberry with a 10 foot pole! It’s food. It’s a food he doesn’t eat.

Yet last weekend he did this:11855733_10206384260780417_1338278855031120380_n

*Stevie had gravitational insecurity when he was a preschooler. He was afraid to move. He wanted to be carried everywhere.  He would scream on a swing. He would not climb stairs to go on a slide.  If he were in a sand box, he would not step out of it. He would wait for someone to pick him up. He took forever to walk down stairs on his own. He always wanted to be carried.

And here is him last week:

(Click the picture to watch him in action!)

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*Stevie is very sensitive to sounds, and would benefit from noise reducing headphones, but he won’t tolerate wearing them. Sometimes this leads to him becoming overstimulated and overwhelmed, often ending in meltdowns.  This week we went to an amusement park. We didn’t know how Stevie would handle it. Last time we went (which was several years ago) he had a hard time coping with all the sudden sounds, clunks and bangs and screeching children.  He was too little to ride any of the "real" roller coasters, but this year he is tall enough for most things. For his first roller coaster experience, he wanted to try  the biggest roller coaster in the park!  All the while I was thinking, "What if he decides half way through it that he wants out?" Bad scenes played out in my mind, but... he loved it! He wanted to ride it over and over. Who knew?

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Stevie is in the first car, back seat with the hat!

Never say never, that is my motto.  Sometimes I am tempted to think some of the other sensory issues are not going to change, like his self-imposed severe food restrictions, for example.  Although he is severely restrictive, he is making progress… from slapping food out of my hand if he didn’t like the look or smell of it, to being able to let us eat what we want, and sometimes, he even peers over the table to look at it!  One time, he want to play at the table but it hadn’t been cleared yet. He actually touched Joy’s food in order to push it away from his space.  This, for him, is huge. And when I start to worry too much about it, I just look back and remember the things above—the amazing changes and progress my sweet boy has made.

Your child may be overwhelmed by the sensory world around him too, but from my experience, they do learn how to manage. They adapt to some extent. It won’t be this hard for them always. Especially if you have an OT that specializes in Sensory Processing.  They do amazing things!

There is hope.

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Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head!

 

Raindrops

I've got a vision playing in my mind, that takes place about 20 years from now.  I am 60 years old, carrying my 25 year old Stevie,who won't step foot in the rain.  I'm wondering how that is going to work?

I am sure he'll come to tolerate the rain a bit better by then than he does now, but at this point, his total disgust and fear of the rain is getting worse, not better!

Today I was coming home from taking him to OT, and the darkened skies opened wide, spilling it's heavy rains to the earth.

When we got home, Stevie wanted just one thing:  to be in the house where it was dry.  There was just one problem with this what-should-be easily solved problem.

He has to get though the torrential downpour that is blocking his way between the car and the house.

At first he wouldn't even come near the car door.  When I opened it, with the umbrella in hand, he backed up away from the open-to-the-dreaded-rain door.  He was not ready to face his fear head-on....or, head under, as the case may be.

 

"Come on, Stevie, I'll carry you!  See?  I have an umbrella to keep you dry. It will be ok!"

"Are you all done? AHHHHH!"

"Stevie, it's ok, I'll carry you in and keep you dry!  Then you can get your blue blanket (his favorite thing)"

"Ahhh!  All Done!" Stevie screams and cries in objection.

It took about 5 minutes of convincing him that it is safe, and worth it, to let me carry him in.  He screamed all the way.  I'm sure the four steps to the porch and four stair-steps up to the door seemed to be more like 4 miles long, with each inch looming with the potential disaster of getting wet...of having "spots" on his shirt...of his shoes having a darker shade of leather than they did before...or...here's the worst... he may get wet hair!

But, it didn't happen.  I kept him dry, just as I promised...all the while getting my own feet wet from walking in puddles since I couldn't see the way while carrying him...my back was spotted with rain drop stains, my shoulders sore from coordinating the umbrella and Stevie at the same time.  But Stevie? He was ok.

Except, he didn't think he was.

If I thought he was screaming before, it was just a minor whimper in comparison to what came next.  Now that he's in the house and dry & safe, he lets loose with the high pitch alarm sounding scream...the one usually reserved for severe pain or terror!

Ignoring his screams, I sit with him by the fire place to get warm and dry.  I grab a extra-comfortable quilted blanket with a rainbow colored sunburst in the center, and wrap it around us both.

He giggles.

I squeeze, and he giggles in relief, again.

I just hold him and warm him and give him squeezes of pressure & hugs that make him feel safe.  (I really don't mind this part at all!)

We cuddle by the fire, feeling safe from the dangers outdoors.

Sometimes we have a storm in our lives, or a dreaded event, or something we just don't like.  And we have to endure it to get to the promised land of comfort & safety. And just like I carried Stevie in the house, God offers to guide and protect us as well, while we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death"  We don't need to fear any evil, for "your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

And even though we may be absolutely dreading the path we have to take, and it takes all we have to make that first step out of the door into the arms of God (who's holding us under a really big umbrella), God is there and He carefully takes us to the other side.  God takes the rain on his own shoes and back.  "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

And once we are safe... we may still feel a bit traumatized by the whole thing.  We may still want to throw our fit and scream:  "Did it really have to happen THAT way God???  Couldn't you magically get me here from the car while avoiding the rain???"

And God comes, and takes us by the warm fire of his presence, re-assures us with his Word, and wraps us with the Holy Spirit like a blanket, and comforts us.  And we relax. And we may giggle at how silly we were about the magic tricks, or the situation we dreaded so much but just turned out to be no big deal in comparison to God. "Everything is possible for him who believes." (Mark 9:23)

Often at the point of finally relaxing, we want to just move on. To get up and start doing things that need to be done.  But I encourage you to follow Stevie's example and to not do that.  Treasure the moment. Stop by the fire place and rest, soak in the love of our incredible Savior.  Rest in the presence of God, absorb the Words of God and soak in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

It's still raining outside here in Maine, and maybe it is still raining where you are too. Maybe you are about to take that first step out of the car to make the journey to the other side, and to you I say:

Fear not, the God of the universe is waiting to take you safely over, hand-in-hand, or perhaps by carrying you all the way.


Originally posted October 6, 2010 on Treasures In The Dust.com