Tag Archives: SPD

A Lie, A Loose Tooth, and Sensory Issues

A Lie, A Loose Tooth, and Sensory Issues

I had forgotten how distressing change can be for someone living with sensory issues sometimes diagnosed as full blown SPD or Sensory Processing Disorder. My middle child has some of these issues and was weirded out by body changes like loose teeth. She said they hurt. So this week I asked my son, now 5 years old and the third child in our lovely family, if he has any loose teeth, yet. When my son said he didn’t have any loose teeth, I assumed he was being honest and said,”OK”.

tooth 2

Who doesn’t want to lose teeth and get money from the lovely socially encouraged tooth fairy? Oh, wait. My kid. <3

Keep in mind that we already prepped for this change by talking, reading Tedd Arnold’s book titled Parts, and I answered questions. (Yes, you NEED to read this book. It is hilarious and a helpful introduction to our changing bodies without a lot of scientific jargon. Then, you can graduate to other books about senses, body functions, anatomy, etc. when your child is ready.)

Fast forward to yesterday. As I was brushing his teeth, I noticed a huge movement in my son’s mouth. You guessed it. There is at least one loose tooth, though it seems the one beside it is going to come out fairly soon as well. So why did he lie? He wasn’t getting into trouble. He isn’t usually overly private about things like this. Why would he lie to me? (I could add the gross things or weird things he does tell me, but I really don’t want him to see this later in life and be embarrassed. My point is that he is not at all private about most things.)

hippo teeth 2

Denial can be a coping technique when something concerns us. This is very true for some children living with sensory issues and/or SPD.

My middle child hated this type of body change so much that she would go into a kind of denial sometimes and ignore the issue as if it was not happening or she could stop it. I thought that maybe my son was trying to ignore or deny the issue. So I asked him how he feels about the loose tooth. Sure enough, once he finally answered, he said it was weird and scary. I am no fan of lies. However, I can see why he would not be honest with me. He was struggling to understand and be okay with this inevitable change.

confusion 2

Sensory issues can affect how we respond to stimuli.

So today we will break out the Tedd Arnold book again, chat some more, and hopefully find time to look up information online depending on what his questions are. Hopefully he won’t be so weirded out by loose teeth once he has the experience of this one coming out. I did have to warn him that sometimes there is a little bit of blood and because he flips at the site of blood, I am a little worried this may send up back a few paces. But, hey, it’s okay to be a work in progress.

Protecting My Child: We Met an Ignorant Bully

Yes, my title is strong. Here is why.

Today we had an unfortunate incident. My significant other has been ill and needed yet another test under sedation. Sometimes we can find a sitter or family member to help out, but today we could not so the children went with us. We packed food, books, games, phones with games, some of our homeschool supplies, and more. I took the children to lunch during the procedure so we would not have to be in the waiting area for an extended amount of time. We even sat in the car and spent time outside before going back in because I am no fool. It gets BORING waiting inside that waiting room. If I get bored, imagine how the kids feel!

After lunch, we went back into the waiting room and sat for perhaps 10-15 minutes. My son, who has sensory processing disorder, anxiety, and other concerns, was out of his seat so I directed him to sit back down so he would be safe. After all, which I explained to him, there is a walkway and if we are up moving around we will get hurt when people walk through. He was headed back to his seat the long way so he could hug a sister first when an employee, who I think was headed to lunch because she had her purse, offered crayons and a coloring page. I thanked her, but explained that he isn’t into that. (Trust me, we try, but he is not a fan of fine motor skills practice so we find other ways to develop his muscle tone. He even has special scissors because cutting is extremely frustrating for him.) So far so good, right? It was kind of her to offer an activity to my child. I appreciated that. This is where the situation gets troublesome. She looked at my four year old child, the kid who used to run away because he was afraid of new people and even family members he knew for years, and she said…

“You wanna come with me? You better behave or I am gonna take you!”

All three children gave her “the eye”, then turned to me. Oh, they knew this was NOT a good choice of words. They were right. I said, nicely actually, “We do not threaten, punish, or shame. Thank you for trying to help, but that is not something we need you to do.” Well, apparently that was a blow to her ego because she said she was not doing any of those things. I explained that we don’t operate our family that way and she was welcome to go on to her lunch break. I thanked her again for the offer to color and for trying to help, then turned back to my kids. She raised her voice and refused to leave us alone. She was in full bully mode! I repeatedly told her to go away. (Yes, I was blunt and stern at this point because she was being irrational and after saying she would take my son, I hope that was only a threat but who knows, I was concerned.) She repeatedly yelled at me, I asked for the supervisor and got the employee’s name. The supervisor hid “on the phone” in the office beside my chair the entire time and never did address the issue before we left to take my ill spouse home.

bully yell A

On one hand, some people have no clue how to behave. On the other hand, how are we supposed to protect our children, especially our children living with special needs, when folks like this pop up in our lives? I have a few suggestions, though I am sure some of you out there have even more ideas. Feel free to email or message me with your ideas. I am happy to credit you if you want them published in this blog post.

First, keep an eye out for your kids or use the buddy system. I know this puts a dark cloud over free ranging it, but sometimes you need eyes on the kids if in a new situation. Second, if someone approaches your child, know when to step in. If your child can handle walking away or saying leave me alone, great. If not, then you or the buddy can do this. Also, you can prepare your children by role playing and discussing what to do if this occurs. Third, educate. If I had a chance today, I would have explained my child’s special needs (even though he was behaving quite well) and asked if the employee had any questions. I know I know. It isn’t your job to educate. Unfortunately, sometimes it may be necessary even when you have no time or energy. I might have explained my experience with children, teaching, special needs, and child development then offered a discount on a service of her choice through my business. Fourth, if you are truly being harassed you may need to get a supervisor, security, or even the police involved. That shouldn’t be a first option, but there are times when we need a helpful hand from a perceived authority figure.

It really sucks when people are rude, mean, or ignorant. It sucks more when the person they are being rude to is your child. No one likes a bully. After the issue today, my child became hyperactive and ran laps around the house which he does not usually do. Climb, yes, run laps, no. My child and I were left with the after effects of the employee’s poor choices.

How you treat people matters. It really does. I guess some people didn’t learn that lesson in childhood. All we can do is prepare our children, do our best in the moment, and protect our children.

“He Looks Normal To Me”

We are each unique and that is perfect.

We are each unique and that is perfect.

It is no secret that two of my children are living with sensory issues. I rarely mention it when out and about unless the issues will affect our event or trip. My youngest child has a tough time so I may let people interacting with him know that he doesn’t want anyone is his personal space or that he runs away if he feels they are too close. Many people take this information in stride, nod their heads, and make sure they don’t cause him to trigger into a sensory meltdown. Other people are not as gracious. This post is about the responses I get and how the words make me feel.

“But he looks normal to me.” Thank you for the, I think, compliment! He is a fabulous person and I am thankful he is my child. However, not all special needs are obvious to others and looking “normal” means nothing. I feel like you are invalidating my concerns when you say he looks normal. I feel as if you want to brush over the issues at hand and devalue the true and honest concerns I have for my child who is still working through some special needs. Please think this, but do not say it.

“He will grow out of it.” Yes, he probably will, if by “grow out of it” you mean he and I will work tirelessly for years to learn which coping skills work best for him. Then again, he may not grow out of all of the issues he has. That has to be acceptable as well. Yes, he is young. There is no guarantee that he will “grow out” of his special needs. I feel worried and sad when you do not accept my child as he is. If he “improves”, then great. If not, I still love and accept him. I hope you will choose to accept him either way, too.

“Every kid has quirks.” Sure, and every person is unique so are they really quirks? Is there really such a thing? At any rate, his so called quirks make him interesting, fun, and challenging. I hope you listen when I explain what triggers his meltdowns so we can have a fun time at the event rather than me spending an hour calming him after someone broached his personal space. I feel like using the word “quirks” can be well-meaning, but often makes me feel like the person is ignoring the diagnosed special need as if we do not need to work with my child and help him.

“Did he really used to do ___.” Insert any harmful or “atypical” behavior in the blank. Did he really repeatedly bang his head on concrete for no apparent reason? Did he stack and unstack clothing hangers for hours on end at age 6 months? Did he only sleep 45 minutes at a time for years on end? Yes, yes he did. I know it seems odd, but I tell you this information because I want you to understand that he is not going to respond to you in the way you expect. I feel thankful when people accept this information and continue on with the play date or field trip. I feel stressed when people try to “fix” the issue or try to explain it away by saying their kids did the same and they “grew out of it”. I am glad your child grew out of it, but mine may or may not.

“You just have to force him to do it.” Insert my laugh track here. Sorry, no, try again. Sensory kids often feel pain when they are triggered. It may be in the form of a headache, pins and needles feelings, or another unpleasant feeling. Forcing a child to do something before he is ready really won’t do much other than empower the possibility of regression. You have to work cooperatively with the child to make gains. If the child has anxiety or oppositional defiance disorder, then forcing things can be even more disastrous. You do not want an adversarial relationship with a child who needs your help to progress. You will both fail if this is the type of relationship you have.

The truth is that I don’t want to tell anyone about my children’s sensory issues. I would prefer to keep that information private. The problem is the triggers are everywhere and some days my children are more sensitive to triggers than others. I cannot effectively explain what is going on during a meltdown to those watching. It is far better to warn people in advance, as necessary, so triggers can be avoided or minimized. We really do have to work through one thing at a time. Working on all sensory issues at once will not work. I hope you understand that I appreciate any questions or comments you make, but some are more thoughtful than others. Please know that I want to communicate with you, but also I want to know that you accept my family. Thanks in advance.