A few weeks ago, while looking for a book to make my twins’ terrible 2′s terrific, I came across a section in the bookstore about living with a sensory defensive child (processing and integration). I remember looking at the section thinking, “Wow! The things kids and their parents go through these days.” Before I moved on, a little part of me was tugging on the inside. It’s one of those feelings you get, especially as a parent, that you know there is a connection there to your child, you just aren’t sure how.
Well, in the weeks following, both of my twins have since been found as having sensory issues. It’s like their sensory systems, part of the nervous system, haven’t awakened yet. Interestingly, one of their therapist said that more and more, they are finding that giving birth via c-section may be one of the causes of this. Unfortunately, because my boys were laying sideways on top of each other, there was no other option for me.
If you aren’t familiar with sensory disorders, let me share with you a little from my daily activities of the past several months… I warn the boys when any bright lights are coming on, but they still react strongly to it. They scream and cry when there are loud noises. They don’t chew their food, so most of it has to be ground up through the food processor. They aren’t talking yet, and one of them still isn’t walking on his own yet. They can’t STAND when anything (food, hair, etc.) gets on their fingers or toes ~ the whole world stops until the item is removed. One of them cries and refuses to eat anything if food or a drop of water or milk is dropped on him, his clothes, my clothes, etc, ~ even if it is cleaned, but the spot remains visible, he freaks out ~ I have to cover it for him to resume eating.
The list goes on and on, but you get the general idea.
What’s been fascinating to me, though, is how they awaken the sensory system in therapy. We are doing a round of various therapies right now that all help with different things. We are massaging their arms and legs to make them more aware of their bodies. We are experimenting with the 3 T’s with food ~ Temperature, Texture, and Taste. We are trying to get them used to chewing on things so they get that motion going with their mouths. We are working on sign language as a temporary means of communication before they start talking (not going so well!). We also are trying to get one of them, in particular, to like sitting on a ball, which he doesn’t seem to want anything to do with in our current phase.
The most interesting part of therapy to me, though, has been the dry rice & beans play pit.
We put the boys in it, either together or one at a time, to play with toys or the rice & beans directly and get used to the texture on their skin. What this does is let them feel the smoothness of the beans and the prickly, pointy ends of the rice, it’s cold usually when they first get in, and it’s fairly heavy when they get their feet buried in it. Eventually, we are supposed to get them in it with just their diapers on. However, I think we are still a bit off from that. One of the twins liked it from Day 1 and still likes it, though, he’s not as attached to it as he was when we first started a week or so ago (offering food was the only thing that would get him out). Their therapist said that his reaction tends to happen and they eventually get to the “take it or leave it” phase. However, our other little man is not having it. He HATED the first time we put him in it. He tried to climb out the entire time (which wasn’t very long). And the only thing he would do with the rice and beans when he was outside the bin was pick up one bean at a time. Now, a week later, he will get in it, though unhappy, but stop crying while his feet are in it. And now, when he’s outside the bin, he will grab the beans and rice by the fistfuls, play with it, and even dig for toys. That by itself is a HUGE improvement from where we started with him intially.
Their therapist told me that some kids are SO defensive that just sticking a body part (foot / hand) in the bin causes them to gag and throw up. Crazy, huh?
Learning all of this about them has filled in the blanks a bit. It explains why they hated the sand on the beach on our vacation last June. It also explains why they aren’t eating well or talking yet. As they have explained it to me, all these systems are so intertwined when they are this age (toddler) and will all come in line as we work on getting them ok with some of these things. It should be very interesting to watch.
I’m curious about those books more than ever, knowing now that it’s sensory issues we’ve been dealing with for years! If you are a parent who has a child with a sensory disorder, my heart goes out to you, my prayers are lifted up for you, and my hat comes off to you. It’s a hard job, but I’m blessed to be able to be in this position to take care of my little fellas.
Do you live with a sensory defensive child? If so, I’d like to hear more about him/her. Please share your story in the comments below!
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Jessica Stone is a wife, mom to 4, and owner of her own business in the fitness industry. She has 3 special needs children, with one child with an undiagnosed neuro-muscular condition that limits her mobility. She enjoys sharing what she has learned through her trials, experience, and research with other parents who are looking for support, encouragement, and helpful information. Get her FREE eBooklet Five Steps to Losing Those Last 10 Pounds today for simple steps to help you trim up and fit into those fashionable clothes you’ve always wanted to wear! Connect with Jess live today on Facebook!