Dealing with my son’s sensory processing disorder has not been easy.
I could have done without the years of putting him through occupational therapy appointments, while making time at home to convince him to do the the strangest / most exhausting activities as part of his sensory diet, just to help him stay regulated.
I never particularly enjoyed seeing him be traumatized by loud noises that didn’t bother the other kids or seeing him miss out on fun activities like fireworks and festivals due to the sounds being painful for him.
I also can’t say I appreciated toeing the line between trying to preserve his self image by not labeling him, while also not going into denial that he really *really* needed special help. I definitely did not like his growing embarrassment about the things he was naturally afraid of, due to his condition.
I absolutely abhorred dealing with his aversions to so many foods, due to smell and texture issues that went with his SPD.
And to be honest, I can think of a few other ways I would have preferred spending my time, rather than constantly researching new strategies of how to help him.
As any mom whose child has been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder knows, it’s not fun.
Thankfully I can say that I am living the dream I read about many years ago in the The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock. In that book (the quintessential guide for helping your child with SPD), she wrote about a boy who developed into a delightfully well adjusted young man with just some residual anxiety and perfectionism issues as echos of his early childhood struggles.
That’s where we’re at with our son, and I could not be more grateful that he’s come so far.
Being through the bulk of our struggles, it is easier to see the gifts they have brought into our family.
I am writing this to provide perspective and hope for a mom who is in the trenches of dealing with a sensory integration diagnosis.
Gratitude for milestones others take for granted
Things like trying a new food and being able to handle the sound of a steam train speeding past the park are huge deals when your child has SPD. There is no gratitude like a mom who has seen her child suffer.
Empathy for kids with more severe neurological issues
1 out of every 68 children has autism, which includes sensory integration issues with countless other challenges we haven’t had to deal with in our household. My heart goes out to these families on a deeper level than it would if we hadn’t been through so much with our own son.
Perspective about what really matters in life
When you’ve seen your child struggle with everyday life, it’s easier to step away from the attachment to superficial accomplishments that can be tempting for us parents to pressure our kids about. We just want our child to be happy, it’s that simple.
An excuse to step away from the chaos of modern life
Having a child that can’t handle too much sensory input means having a child that thrives in quieter, more natural settings. So our family skips the amusement parks and spends time in nature, which is actually good for all of us.
Increased resilience for the whole family
I would have happily gone my whole life without ever seeing my child struggle, but I am grateful that he is starting to see himself as someone that overcomes obstacles. We’re all stronger from walking this road with him.
Humility and a total healing of any desire to ever judge another mom
When kids with sensory processing issues are overstimulated, they can become skittish and act out even (actually especially) in public because that’s where the triggers are. This is humbling for a dedicated mom to say the least. We have learned to do our best and keep our chins up, regardless of what others may think.
An ability to be persistent
Nothing forges the heart of a family like fighting for one of it’s members. We have worked so hard to create an environment where all of our boys can thrive, including our sensory sensitive son, and we have all grown in the process.
Less attachment to the way things “should” be
A child with SPD approaches life in a unique way; they are who they are. Letting go of preconceptions and embracing our child’s unique spirit has been such a gift to our family.
This kid has needed so much more support from us than we could have ever imagined when he was born; It’s been tough! On the flip, we have this absolutely pure and unconditional love for him that I wouldn’t trade for the world, it’s part of the package!
A realization of the power of presence
Not being able to fix my child’s issues has been hard to accept. But it’s helped me realize my power as a mom lies in my willingness to be there for him through his struggles, which is a truth we all need to learn at some point through our kid’s lives anyway.
Extra sensitivity can actually be a really good thing
Have you noticed that along with physiological sensitivity, a child with SPD can have exquisite emotional sensitivity as well? Ours notices everything and processes life at such a deep level He challenges us all to be better people.
Getting to know his amazing occupational therapists
You will not meet better people than these, who spend their lives pouring out into children with high needs. If you suspect your child has sensory processing issues, I highly recommend getting an OT evaluation – it can help so so much! Here is a list of symptoms to ask your pediatrician about!
What gifts have you discovered through caring for your child, who has sensory processing disorder? What challenges?