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:

IMG_1606

*  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!)

IMG_1616

 

*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?

IMG_0524
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.

SensoryBlogHopNew



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!

Please Don’t Send Him To Music Class

Please Don't Send Him To Music Class

Stevie loves music.

He loves to watch music videos, and loves to listen to music in the car. He loves to sing. He loves to play instruments. He just loves music and music loves him.

They have a thing going on.  When Stevie is upset, music will calm him down. When Stevie is happy, music complements his joy. Wherever Stevie goes, the music within him makes it’s way out with his beautiful singing.  Robbie has incredible abilities to imitate sounds, including instruments.

To hear a clip of him singing a classical piece from Baby Einsteins, click here.  In the DVD, this song is played by violins, and that is exactly what Stevie has made his voice to sound like!

The music he listens to and enjoys is usually really good too.

But don’t you dare even think about singing near him, no matter how good you are. He hates it when other people sing.

And don’t pretend to play the drums, or cluck a beat in your mouth. Or snap your fingers, or "bee-bop" for that matter.

And you know what? Don’t even dance. Because maybe you might get carried away and accidentally sing.

And absolutely DO NOT make him go to music class. He hates it.

For some reason the teachers and therapists at school thought Stevie didn’t like music. But that is not the case at all. He LOVES it. He is gifted in music. He has perfect pitch and an amazing range, and if he could learn to play an instrument without first destroying it, he’d be an instant celebrity on YouTube.

But he hates going to music class.

Why?

Some of the kids sing off key. Some play instruments wrong or their off-beat.  The sounds they make are not only jarring, but also unpredictable.  Loud screeches, and unexpected banging on percussion instruments overtake his ability to enjoy learning about music.

But that is because his sensory processing disorder interferes with his natural love for music; not because he doesn’t like music.

In music class he has no control over the noises exploding discordantly in the air around him. He must breathe in and breathe out the offending sounds as they vibrate through his body uninvited. There is no escape and there is no control. Sounds that are soft may make his skin crawl and sounds are loud attack his ears and body. So many sounds and frequencies just plain hurt.

He doesn’t like the way noise canceling headphones feel so he doesn’t wear them. Instead, he prefers to plug his ears with his fingers and hum (or script) to himself to try to cover up the cacophonous sounds that attack from all sides.

I’m am sure it just. hurts. too. much.

Stevie tried all he could conjure up to avoid having to go to music class.

He would bolt away,  he would drop to the floor and flail about in the middle of the school hallway. He’d push and pull and yank and grab and scratch and well, you get the picture.

But unfortunately, the powers that be did not understand him.

They did not want him to think he would be rewarded for his challenging behaviors.  Instead of listening to his behavior as a cry for help, they chose to not let him control the situation and provided an “escort” into that aversive classroom.  When he became unsafe with his behavior in the class, they would perform a 2-person stability hold in his chair to keep him there until he was safe enough to go back to the classroom.

I bet you can guess how much he enjoys music class now.

They gave up and he won (not really) being able skip going to that class.

Nobody should be required to sit through something that is painful to them, no matter how little we understand about why it is uncomfortable.

So please, please do not ever make him go to music class.

(Disclaimer: What happened in music class is pieced together based on what we learned happened from IEP meetings. Since the school would not let us observe what was happening for ourselves (due to misinterpreted “privacy” laws), I can only use my imagination as to what music class was like for my son.)

SensoryBlogHopNew
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!