Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm learning......

I started my day with a tantrum. Thankfully, Tiersten was in a decisive mood today and stuck with the first outfit she put on, because I would not have had the patience to deal with a 5-year-old's drama of multiple clothing choices AND maintain my sanity with Jennica's shrieking. You see, in Jennica's mind, I committed a horrible offense this morning. When she finished her GF/CF waffle, she politely asked for some of her new coconut milk yogurt. All was good.....right up until I dumped only 1/3 of the yogurt "bucket" into a bowl and gave it to her in the bowl. At that point, she skipped the complaining and whining stage, and went straight to rage. Welcome to the world of SPD.

I used to feel guilty that I have become numb to my daughter's fits of temper. However, with the guidance of our terrific OT, I'm letting go of some of my guilt. While Jennica lacks the coping strategies to exist in an over-stimulating world, those of us that live with her have developed coping strategies to live......well.........with her. Sometimes, that means we just have to go about our business until she is ready to communicate in a form that makes sense. With that said, the rest of us also have to HELP her learn to communicate in forms that make sense. So.....there is a middle ground.

This morning, it was rather interesting to watch, in a rather detached sort of way. Tiersten is zipping around loudly complimenting herself on her excellent choice of ensemble for her day at kindergarten (In Tiersten's world, clothes DO make the woman.), Grant disappears to brush his teeth when the screaming starts (he's the one that deals the least well with Jennica's fits), Dane steps back and tries to analyze aloud why she would care that her yogurt is in a bowl rather than the "bucket", and I'm calmly loading the dishwasher, wiping down the countertops, and trying to explain to Jennica over her screaming that its the same yogurt whether its in a bowl or the "bucket". And then I stopped.

I have to say, that I'm rather proud of the end result that we reached this morning. Rather than continue to try to talk to her or ignore her, I grabbed the little white board that now occupies a constant spot in our kitchen for exactly this reason. I quickly drew her a picture of a bowl with something in it, followed by an empty bowl, followed by another quick sketch of the bowl with something in it. And simply told her, "Eat whats in your bowl. When its gone, I'll give you some more." She looked at the pictures, thought for about three seconds, climbed up on the barstool, and that was the end of the fit. She ate three bowls of yogurt without another gripe. Dane (always the analyst) scratched his head and told me to explain to him later why that worked. I'm just so ecstatic that it DID work and that we're beginning to understand her world that I was ready to turn cartwheels. A huge "thank you" to Renae (our OT) for her guidance.

I still don't know what caused Jen to "freak out" over me putting her yogurt in a bowl. That part I don't understand yet, but for some reason, her brain "saw" her yogurt in the "bucket". When I put her yogurt in the bowl and gave her the bowl, her visual perception of what was going to happen had to change and she wasn't able to make that adjustment. When I briefly tried to explain aloud to her that she could eat the yogurt in a bowl just the same as eating it from the "bucket", she couldn't make the necessary perceptual change based on hearing me explain it. She needed the VISUAL picture showing her what would happen if she ate the yogurt from the bowl.........she would get more when the bowl was empty. The VISUAL input makes sense to her, the AUDITORY input does not. I'm beginning to get it!!! And best of all, I could see her process the visual information in the sketch and the logic was there for her!!! WAHOO!!! If you've ever worked (and fought) with a child with SPD, you know the thrill of breaking through! We've been using visual schedules for months, but until Renae, we didn't really realize just how much of the world is auditory and if you have a child that resists auditory input, you have to put the information in a different form. In Jennica's case, the visual form WORKS!

Of course, the nay-sayers will say that if the world is auditory, this child is going to have to learn to take auditory input. I agree..........but in time. For the moment, I'm just excited to see her learning some tools, and to see US learning some tools to help her process all types of sensory input. Its a big step in the right direction with a marathon still to run.

No comments: