Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sensory Issues

Well hello!  Today, I rant about parenting books.  That okay?  Yea?  Well, aren't you nice.  Thanks.

Let's get started.

My son was born six weeks premature.  He was a great weight, though and overall, very healthy, so we thought "Great!  Whew!  We dodged a bullet!"  But only kinda.  While I am eternally grateful that he is overall very very healthy, his prematurity has caused a few minor issues.  Concerning his sensory integration.  Which, honestly, I was just so over the moon he was healthy, that I didn't notice until recently. Or, I noticed his sensory problems but just thought they were his own adorable quirks.  Which is apparently common.

I realized it's common due to my reading "Raising a Sensory Smart Child," which really is a very very useful, well organized book.  I gobbled it up in a day or two and learned so so much.  For instance, I learned that my son's absolute horror of swings as an infant is related to his absolute horror of riding in a car at that age, is related to his dyspraxic speech at two years old, is related to his abhorrence of any food other than breast milk until one year old, is related to his extreme pickiness regarding food in general, is related to his exaggerated startle reflex (still), is related to his abhorrence of loud, unexpected noises - especially crying.  All those things are related.  Who knew?  Well, I perhaps should've known to look out for something like this since he was premature, but I didn't.  Likely I was too tired and, in the last year or so, too wrapped up in my own health problems to notice.

But, in any case, now I have noticed.  I have read this very good book and now, I have let this very good book invade my head and stress me out a bit.  Which I don't think was their goal - I think they're just covering all their bases.  It's just maybe unavoidable with parenting books.

Here's a passage in "Raising a Sensory Smart Child" which is a perfect example of what I just mentioned:

Do not forget that children with sensory issues often escalate their behavior in order to control their environment.  If escalation works (for example, your child throws up and you stop presenting him with an offending food item), he will keep doing it.  If he throws up, calmly clean it up and tell your child he can try again tomorrow.  This way, he will learn that throwing up, or throwing a plate, or whatever negative behavior he is using to try to control the situation, is not useful.  However, some children with smell and taste sensitivities are truly nauseated by particular foods.  If your sensory smarts tell you this is the case for your child, do not continue to present the offending food.  Some parents let their children pick out a small number of foods they will never, ever be forced to eat.

See?  *sigh*  If this, do this.  But if this, do this.  How do you tell the "this's" apart?  Unclear!  Use your judgement!  Confusing.  Meanwhile you're "doing" all these things, instead of just being calm and letting things go as they will and possibly (for me, definitely) getting even more stressed out.

This is only one small part though.  I shouldn't nit-pick.  This book has been great in that it showed me what was going on and how things are tied together and how things are often very confusing, but that with occupational therapy, that the outlook is actually quite positive.  Which has been very helpful, as I said.

In general, though, I avoid parenting books now like the plague.  When my daughter was a baby (roughly six years ago), I tried to solve the problem of lack of sleep by buying loads of books about sleeping and consuming them also.  It only ended up making me more stressed out and was counter productive.  In the end, we just let her sleep with us when she needed to (which was most nights after about 1 am) and eventually she just kind of slept through the night.  Probably at around age 4.

I don't even bother to worry about sleep with my son (who's now 3).  We just deal.  Which is what I was trying to do with his eating, but it turns out that his sensitivity to sound has the potential to make school extremely difficult for him in the future and we need to deal with it now, therefore, before things get possibly worse.  So, occupational therapy with a Sensory Processing Disorder specialist, and lots of positive reinforcement for my son when he tries new things and is brave and I believe we're alright.

Trying to be positive in general.  Until next time...

1 comment:

  1. I'm exhausted just reading this. I think God gave me healthy children because he knew what a lazy parent I would be. I have a girlfriend with a kid that literally can only eat 3 food items due to a rare enzyme disorder - strawberries is one of them... I forget the other two - anyway, she's always making him special meals and trying to jazz up his meager offerings.

    Dude. There are only so many things you can do with a strawberry. (And don't even get me started on what it must be like to watch your child yearn to eat like "regular" people.)

    Another girlfriend adopted two crack babies, one of them is on the autism spectrum - again, I get exhausted just thinking about what her day entails.

    ok. I'm tired after writing this long comment. Must go rest now.