Monday, November 17, 2008

Its all about the quality of the journey...

The last few weeks have been BUSY. While I don't talk here much about it, our youngest daughter has some sensory processing issues. We've recently "ramped up" our expectations again, which means a ton of new information to read and a whole lot of detective work to figure out what truly makes her tick, so we can provide her with options for coping through her life full of sensory input.

I think, for me, the hardest part of dealing with sensory processing is that so few people have ever heard of it, and don't know how to deal with something that they can't see. I've decided that as parents, we all tend to like visible health issues........rashes, runny noses, scratches and bruises......we can deal with those. But the "bumps and bruises" on the soul are much harder to understand and treat.

Jennica is truly a miracle child, and she is the original purpose behind the title of this blog. Her daily life is miraculous! We took full custody of her at 7 weeks, not knowing how functional she would be. Talking and walking were in serious question, much less anything more. We made the commitment at that point in time to help her find her success in her own journey. And what a journey it has been! She has an amazing vocabulary, and can "swing from the trees with the greatest of ease"!! Literally! All motor functions, speech, and a billion other things that make us human are fully intact and we are so grateful. She has overcome so many of the genetic questions to which she was born!

But, in a sensory-defensive child, the appearance of normalcy is both a gift and a curse. In a public setting, she may throw desperate tantrums after hours of over-stimulating light, visual, and noise input. She is constantly seeking greater input, which means that she wants to run faster, yell louder, climb higher, and touch more things than any other kid you've ever met. A child that is externally and obviously disabled would be viewed by passersby and forgiven for their actions. Jennica just appears to be a spoiled brat. And even we, who try very hard to live in her world at times have no idea if she hears deafening static in an over-stimulating environment, or worse, minute details of EVERY conversation within 100 feet. Until she understands that not everyone senses the world that she senses, we won't be able to get her to communicate what she feels/hears/sees. To her, her world IS normal.

So.......we continue to read and learn. At four and a half, she is now developmentally ready to really benefit from therapy. We've done OT in the past, but were "given the boot" as she was typically-developing for that age group. Now, we're resuming it once again. And yet, she continues to be so "normal" in so many ways. It is difficult to identify what tacts to take without consistent behaviors. She went into complete meltdown during an evening outing with a large crowd of children two weeks ago, but survived 60 minutes in Chuck E. Cheese this past weekend with complete calm, and had a blast! I can barely do 60 minutes in Chuck E. Cheese!!! Its baffling to try to understand why she overloads so quickly in one situation, but not in the next.

I can only say that I am still so grateful to share this journey with her, wherever it may lead. As she swings from the trees by her toenails, fights with her toothbrush every morning, and tries to make as much noise as possible on metal bleachers at a football game........I'm eternally grateful to be her Mom.

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