Another “Doh!” Moment

I don’t know if any other parents of special needs kids have “Doh!” moments, but I do on a regular basis. I don’t know if I’m just not paying attention, or what, but often something that has been staring at me in the face for awhile finally dawns on me, and I feel particularly dense.

Since The Boy was a toddler, we realized he has some sensory issues. In facet, I was researching and learning about sensory processing disorder before I even thought autism was a possibility. Many kids are hyper-sensitive to sensory stimulation – too much noise, too much touch, too much everything. But The Boy was just the opposite. He loved to be crushed in great big hugs, and steamrolled, and tickled, and be in the water for great lengths of time. He needed more sensory input to regulate himself. As he got older, a few variations were thrown in, like aversion to fire drills and loud noises in general, which would be classified as hypersensitive, while still maintaining hypo-sensitivity to other sensations.

pexels-photoFast forward to The Man entering our lives, and me noticing he doesn’t like to hold hands much. Or too much touching in general. Of course, there are times and places… ahem, but in general, if my legs are on his lap too long, he’ll have to get up and move, or if we do hold hands, it will not last longer than 20 seconds. I’ll admit it’s been a little tough for a touchy-feely girl like me, who was raised on hugging and cuddling, and all of that. It wasn’t until last night when I kissed him on his forehead and he almost flinched that the tumblers fell into place. He is probably affected by SPD, on the hypersensitive end.

He and I both have always suspected he may have ADHD – always on the go, doesn’t like to sit and relax, periods of hyper-focus (doesn’t like to be interrupted), etc. and sensory processing disorder is much more likely to be co-morbid with something else like ADHD or autism then as a stand-alone issue.

I’m not trying to diagnose him, believe me. But it helps me understand his responses without being hurt by them, and changes my perspective a bit, which can only help. And yet again, my experiences in life seem to be acutely tailored to the challenges I face. I’m just glad my brain can work this stuff out, even if it isn’t always too quick on the uptake.

 

Custom Built Bed for my Hypo-sensitive Boy

The Boy is often hypo-sensitive, meaning he needs more sensory input than is typical.  He rubs his shoulder on the wall as he walks down the hall, loves big hugs, and could spend all day in the water if we let him.  He needs that extra input on his skin to be able to tell where it ends.  Part of this is that he likes to be under blankets, and in enclosed spaces, as many on the spectrum do, and has taken to hanging out in his closet to achieve the desired effect.  No problem except that he is getting bigger every day, and his closet is not.

I mentioned the other day that The Man had designed and was custom-building a bed modeled after the Captain’s bed style, so that The Boy could have an enclosed space under it in which to hang out.  Here is the (semi-) final result:

custom built bed

I say “semi” because, as you can see, the shutter door has yet to be attached on the end.  The Boy chose the color, and would like the door to be painted the same color, but alas, it is made of plastic, requiring special paint, and well, there’s only so much time in the day.  Some of you IKEA fans, may recognize the dark long piece with drawers that acts as a step and added storage that can be accessed from both underneath and the front of the bed.  It is from the Expedit line, and we used it for sorting the recycling at our old house.  It provides much needed additional storage in The Boy’s new room design.  We got rid of the box spring, and his mattress sits on top of slats, allowing for extra head room underneath.

The best part is that The Boy loves it.  It really is nice to have a husband that fulfills his promises and is incredibly handy.

Water Boys

Water has such a great effect on both of my boys.

The Man is a surfer, and has been since he was 12.  He starts to get a little cranky if he hasn’t gone surfing in awhile, and just being in the water, doing his thing, does amazing things to his outlook.  He needs the water almost as much as he needs air to breathe.  That was part of the reason we decided early on that The Boy and I would move down here rather than have him move up north with us.  He wouldn’t have survived away from the ocean.

Beach BoysThe Boy reacts similarly to the water, like many kids with autism.  He has always been this way, and could very easily spend his entire day in some form of water.  I’ve written before about the amazing power of water over him, and the immediate calming effects.  If he starts heading toward a meltdown, throwing him in the tub for awhile is the easiest way to avert it.

Over the past several years, The Man has been introducing surfing to The Boy, and The Boy loves it.  I also love to see them sharing this.  The Man is amazingly patient teaching him where to position himself on the board, how to stand, and how to keep his balance.

Today, we went to the beach, and today, The Boy went from riding on his tummy, to kneeling, to standing on the board, all in one ride, and I think this was the first time I saw him do all of this in one motion.  And he was so persistent.  “One more time, because I wiped out.”  I could glimpse him doing all of this on his own in a few years, something I was never sure of before.  So often, those of us with kids on the spectrum really can’t see into the future like parents of NT kids can, so when we get a peek like this, it’s pretty exciting.

This makes me a proud and happy mama. 🙂

Crisis Averted: How I Turned a Crisis into a Game

Blue sock

We decided to go to the grocery store at 12:30. “That’s 23 minutes, from now, OK?” I remind The Boy.  A few minutes later, I get up to make the grocery list, and I hear the beginnings of a meltdown.  I hear the frustration in his voice, and the elevated volume saying, “I can’t FIND it!”  It turned out to be a sock, a very particular grey and blue sock, for which he could not find the mate.  He had actually looked in the laundry basket of socks first, which is huge.  Usually, he will visually scan a room and if it doesn’t jump up and say, “HERE I am!!” it is lost.  Forever.  Somebody took it.  So we looked all over his room.  We looked in the clean clothes basket.  We looked in the basement.  I told him it would turn up sooner or later, and sat down because it was obvious we would not be going to the store today.  I was making a mental inventory of our groceries and trying to determine how not getting groceries today would affect our Monday… The Boy began to get very angry and started throwing things.  After he tossed a blanket across the room (thankfully only a blanket), I walked over to him on the couch, and said “STOP IT.”

From here it could have gone two ways: I could have started shouting, making things worse, or I could have gone the other route to try to get him to calm down.  Today (because I don’t always make the right choice), I made a split-second decision to get him to calm down.  I got him down on the couch, and lay down on top of him, using my body weight to give him some sensory input.  He was still yelling about not going to school tomorrow, me calling the police on him, him calling the police on me, and ended with, “Get off of me or I’m going to be bleeding!”  But he was calmer.  We sat up, and I pulled him into my lap.  We talked about better ways to communicate his frustration, and I laid out the options for him: We could clean up his room together, and if we didn’t find it, I would buy him a new pair, or we could hope it turned up, and choose a different pair.  He chose to clean up his room, and look in the basement again, which we did.

As we cleaned up his room, we threw every sock we found on his bed.  When we were finished tidying up, I said, “OK, Now we’re going to play a game.  We will each make as many sock matches as we can, and whoever has the most will get a candy bar when we go grocery shopping today.”  We sorted socks, I taught him how to fold pairs together, and we each snatched socks from the pile.  In the space of about 20 minutes, we had gone from potential meltdown to smiles and laughter as we played a game together.  And he lost, and it was OK.  He found a different pair of socks to wear (because we still didn’t find that darn sock that started all this), and it was OK.

If it had been 7am on a school day, when these types of things usually occur, I’m not sure I would have made the better choice.  But I did today, and we are both better off for it.