What does it mean to raise a child with sensory processing disorder (SPD)? I don’t know, I’m still figuring it out, one day at a time!
I understand SPD, but I have not yet figured out my son’s “SPD pattern”. Because I don’t think there is one! Something that he enjoys today, could be the very thing that sends him into a meltdown tomorrow.
My son has become my “four seasons in a day”.
This weekend was the biggest “test” by far. His friend was sleeping over and I had no clue as to how he would react after having someone else in his space, the one place where he can let go of his control when he needs to…
I really admired him for the manner in which he “checked” himself each time he was about to lose it. Removing himself from the situation, going to another room after his outbursts. Allowing me to role his OT ball over his body to help him relax.
We had a few moments where I thought “this is it, he’s friend won’t ever want to come play again”, but he held back and his friend really seems to understand him. I noticed that he knew to just let him be, afterwards he would speak to him in a calm tone and a few minutes later all would be fine again.
After his friend left I could see that he was sad to see him go, but also relieved in a way. He lay on the bed and rested while the tv played in the background. Later he played some games on his tablet and even gave me a cuddle.
During loadshedding I took him for a walk on the beach. Initially he didn’t want to walk in the water or sand! But he soon got into it and started playing a game where he would run to me, jump into my arms and I would spin him around and around and slowly come to a stop. Then he would run ahead of me, run back, jump into my arms and I would do the spinning thing again.
We did this so many times I lost count and my body started feeling funny from all the spinning! He absolutely loved it!
Finally on our way home he said “I feel so much better now mom, it seems this was exactly what I needed mom. I almost forgot about my friend, the naughty things I did. I don’t know why I get like that, but I feel way better now.”
I explained to him that he has SPD and his brain struggles to process all the information from his senses, it gets into a traffic jam and that is when he reacts so strongly and becomes emotional, even aggressive and losses all tolerance.
I said to him that it is great that he knows what works for him, like running and spinning on the beach, going for a walk at school when the noise and closeness of the kids become unmanageable or riding his bike in the mornings before and after school; getting his body ready for the change in environment.
We are still figuring out what works when. Patience has been my best friend walking alongside restraint and understanding.