Dear SPD Fairy,
Okay, we get it. It's now official and diagnosed. My older son has Sensory Processing Disorder. He fits the symptoms of other SPD kids, has the same sleep problems, the same reactions and over reactions, and just like most/all SPD kids is a huge sweet heart that just can't control himself.
So... now that we know, and now that we're getting help...
Can it be done?
Like, can the SPD just go away now please?
Because 8 fitful hours of sleep and being too hyped to nap is just not enough for any child, especially one who overstimulates to the point of curling up in a tight ball when you're even going from room to room.
And really, as much as we love him, we've been having trouble standing him for, like... how long have we known him now? Yeah, that long. He's a rough kid when he's hyped and he's hyped at least 80% of the time so most of our interactions with him are with us being exasperated and him being defiant.
You see, SPD fairy, I get that my kid is different. And that's cool, it really is. And I get that he's always going to be different, and different is good. Most of the world's most important figures, especially in the art world, were and are veeeery different. And he's really into photography himself...
But there's liveable different and hard-to-live-with different. And my son? My son is hard to live with.
It's hard to have chronic insomnia yourself, to know you're likely going to be up all night with the baby anyway, and to also know that your 4 year old will wake and be up for the day well before the crack of dawn. It makes one not even want to attempt sleep because, really, what is the point? Sleep is stressful in this house.
And it's hard to know that he's going to be angry and pissy and defiant all morning. It's hard to know that he'll make a mess of his room but any mention of cleaning, even direct "pick up X and put it in Y please" will lead to him throwing his body to the ground and screaming "I can't do it!" as so many SPD kids do (as they simply save their limited strength for things they actually want to do, and thus appear lazy). It's hard to know that getting him dressed might take 1 minuted or 1 hour, that toothpaste will likely cover the mirror this morning as well, that his bed is probably soaking wet and he won't tell us. It's hard to face the day. Mornings are stressful in this house.
And... and it's hard to eat breakfast when you know he's likely going to change his mind a million times, even halfway through meals, and be 100% insistent that he didn't WANT cereal, he wanted a banana RIGHT NOOOOOW! Then he'll take one bite and get angry at you for forcing him to eat a banana. You have to have a lot of energy and patience in the mornings or else you'll simply lose it and he'll gain the upper hand, which is petrifying to him and only makes things far, far worse. It's hard to get him to leave the house, because transitions are scary and he'll think of anything he can do to stop them, including spending 10 minutes on finding and putting on his shoes, walking as slow as possible, or simply throwing his whole body down and glaring at you for no good reason. Usually, it's the slow walk that gets me...
Days in this house are stressful.
And naps... when they happen, which is probably 5 days out of the week (though we try every day with the same routine and he's always tired enough for one) they involve great detail. Naps begin with lunch, which must be big enough for him. Then comes his vitamins, 2 multi's, 2 omega-3's, 2 calciums, all of different colors and preferably with 2 stars somehow involved and with us memorizing the animal shapes of the multi's so that he doesn't have to question us too much before eating them (and we get 1 minute off vitamin time if there are 2 star shaped vites...). Next comes teeth brushing, which is a power struggle in itself. No you may not put the toothpaste on as even under direct supervision you put half the container on your toothbrush. Yes you must brush for more than 5 seconds, no you may not spit on the mirror instead of in the sink, and please stop cleaning the sink drain/floor/your foot with the toothbrush! Then it's potty time, which he's always "already done it already!" though Lord knows how many hours ago. And the whole hands washing fiasco comes next. If I leave the room at this point sometimes the whole bathroom gets a spray down (typically only if he can find a cup to fill with water then throw into the air). Finally once child and bathroom are clean and dry, we move to the bedroom. Usually the baby is beyond ready for his nap so he goes to his crib and screams his head off while big kid takes his time picking out a book and not listening to things like "now lay down" or "please let me talk." After story, massage, telling him about my day and finally leaving the room, I pick up the tear soaked baby from his room, remind P to stay in bed and go downstairs. Usually sometime within the next hour he stops getting out of bed and finally falls into a deep sleep. Or he just screams on his bed for attention. Or he keeps running around upstairs and I hear him in every room. Many days I have to wake up the baby in order to get big kid to take a nap. It's not fair to the baby. It's not fair to me. It rules so much of my life... Naps in this house are stressful.
Life in this house is stressful.
There's so much more I could list, both good and bad.
To be certain, he's a sweet kid. A smart kid. A nice, compassionate, loving kid. He captures hearts wherever we go. He's friendly and social, witty and fun. In many situations he's a totally, 100% normal kid.
But in many situations his SPD is overstressing us, and overstressing him. We're tired, exhausted both mentally and physically and I have no doubt he's the same.
So, kind SPD fairy... can this stop now please? Can he maybe NOT overstimulate at everything? Perhaps accept a change in routine from time to time without shutting down? Can he calm down with his control issues maybe? And please, please... can OT just work like magic for us now?
Oh, SPD fairy... I saw the magic just a couple days ago. After his Weds OT visit, where they introduced a body brush and theraputic music, he was so calm, so centered. He slept well, ate well, and was a ball of sunshine both here and at school. Then he fell apart at naptime, didn't sleep and has been off his rocker for two days.
I'm ready for that magic to work. It got a glimpse of a life different from ours, a life that involved a HAPPY and CONTENTED child, who slept, who ate, who played, without issue! A child who was in control of himself and thus did not have to be in control of every situation! A child who didn't act possessed or damaged or defiant or anything else negative, but who was just plain peaceful, like we'd hoped his name would signify.
So can this SPD business stop now, for our sakes AND his, and can we see that contented, peaceful, in control child again, not just once a week after OT but every day?
Is this our future?
Will there be... sleep?... in our future?
Oh please tell us it's true!
Lily in a loafing barn
5 weeks ago