Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bah Humbug in true SPD-style

If it were up to little folks afflicted with Sensory Processing Disorder, Christmas programs and concerts would be outlawed. My daughter, along with a gazillion other SPD kiddos, believes that there is not much worse than dressing up in snazzy clothes, enduring the hair-combing/tooth-brushing/face-washing/gussying, and being placed in front of a large crowd of staring human faces. On top of all that, you are going to be told to stand or sit in close proximity to other children, and tolerate loud racket (otherwise known as singing and/or playing musical instruments). Oh......and endure it all with a smile and don't punch the kid next to you, no matter what they do to annoy you. Yeah.......sure.

This has been a tough week at school for our ENTIRE school. Elevated behavioral outbursts are pretty typical to the last week before a major holiday in any elementary school, but given the recent passing of one of our most beloved teachers, the staff is also admitting that they are all a little "off". Of course, the kids sense that their teachers are "off" and are responding with increased whiny-ness and rotten behavior. Our entire school family NEEDS this Christmas break to heal a bit from Joan's passing, which is certainly understandable. But with the Christmas Program this week and a ton of other out-of-routine events going on, Jennica has not been at her finest.

So.......Mike and I made a tough decision today after input from her teacher and weighing all the considerations and options. We've talked the's time to walk the walk. Jennica will be allowed to "skip" the Christmas Program tonight. Part of me is very disappointed. There is something very parental about seeing your child participate in those types of events. But we honestly don't feel it is a situation where she can be successful FOR HER. So why have her participate? Just so we can feel like parents? Just so we can prove that she can stand across the gym from us and be miserable for an hour? Just so we can once again watch SPD in action? Nah.......that's not what our daughter's journey is about.

I'm very thankful to Jennica's teacher for being honest with us about the expectations tonight. The program is one hour long, and her class sings two short songs at the very beginning, sits for 50 minutes on the bleachers with no activity, and then sings one more song at the end. During the 50 minutes of inactivity, they are expected to hold relatively still and listen to the 1st thru 6th graders sing, and then listen to the 5th & 6th grade bands. All while they are stared at by a crowd of 300+ adults. The auditory and visual input of this experience will send Jennica reeling into tactile-seeking input, as her auditory and visual systems will shut down in overload. Her brain will automatically seek input from tactile sensations and movement. (Her teacher noted that 10 minutes into practice this morning, Jen peeled off her shoes and socks, and then her coat. And then she proceeded to roll on the bleachers. Yep...........tactile input. Next comes spinning in circles, jumping up and down, or running around the gym. All in an effort to maintain adequate information for the brain to "read" the environment without fully-functioning auditory and visual systems. But not really socially-acceptable in the middle of a Christmas Program.)

So Jen and I are going to watch Grant's last wrestling meet of the year. We will enjoy a short drive together, eat some dinner, and relax. She can run around the gym. She can wiggle. And I can relax and not wait for her to "totally lose it." And I will remember that this is my daughter's journey, and know that I honored what was best FOR HER.

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