So a LOT of things have been happening lately. Unfortunately my computer has been down, thankfully I just got it back. It will probably take several posts to catch you all up...but I love to write, so that shouldn't be a problem.
I'm going to take you back about three weeks ago.
I was struggling to understand A (which was pretty obvious in my last post).
I had explored so many different possible diagnoses for her, and had yet to find anything that truly fit. I was beginning to question whether there was something truly wrong. Perhaps her meltdowns are within the realm of typical. Maybe I'm just too high strung and need to chill...
Then one night I was researching and digging because my gut kept telling me that A's behaviors are Not normal and that there's something else going on with her.
Somehow I stumbled on a website for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I was blown away as I went down the checklists. This FIT! It explained everything I've gone through with A since she was an infant!
She was colicky, insisted on being held constantly, hated the vacuum (so much so that I had to hold her while I completed the chore, or wait until my husband got home to hold her for me), battled constipation, was a picky eater as she got older, didn't like getting her hands messy, couldn't stand it when I couldn't get ALL the sand off her feet after playing at the park. She was content to swing for 45 minutes at the park and never do anything else. She was terrified of slides, elevators and escalators. She was unreasonable and illogical and had true meltdowns (not tantrums) almost on a daily basis.
She had meltdowns when we washed her hair (the water couldn't come near her eyes OR her ears), she didn't like to hug friends and grandparents, she hated to be tickled. She took FOR ever to go to sleep (I could rock her for an hour and she'd still be awake).
She couldn't stand to be called nicknames (to the point of melting down), she has an incredibly difficult time verbalizing what's upsetting her (her initial reaction is to yell--and she's 5 now!), she has a hard time figuring out where she hurts.
She couldn't stand bumpy roads, tags in her shirts bothered her, she can't stand lumpy socks and there are many pairs of her shoes that she loves dearly but can't overcome her tactile sensitivities to wear them and that upsets her.
SPD is a neurological disorder. Basically a person's brain mistranslates different stimuli ranging from sound, movement, touch, taste, smell, sight and introception (the internal sense that one has to go to the bathroom or is hungry, etc.). He is either under responsive, which causes him to seek out different stimuli (which can lead to autistic or ADHD type behaviors and even misdiagnosis), or she is over responsive and translates things as scary/painful/bad.
There is no cure, but there are many strategies, therapies and even pieces of equipment available to help kids get what they need and respond appropriately to the world around them.
Whew! Are you overwhelmed yet? Let me tell you from a momma who still battles depression occasionally and who is not very organized or structured I was relieved, but freaking out!
Relief. I had found answers!! I wasn't a "bad parent" after all. =)
Then I went through a denial stage (it lasted about 2 days). Is this really my kid? It always seemed that almost as instantly as I'd ask this question, A was having a meltdown that proved that this was, in fact, the perfect fit.
I went through a brief phase of guilt. Sure I've done a LOT to make our lives as smooth as they are today (which is still rather rocky on a good day compared to "normal" kids), But I hate that she has to share a room. Really for a kid with SPD sharing a room is not a good situation...but Bug and A are particularly bad roommates for each other. He's noisy while he's going to sleep and loud when he wakes up in the morning. He wakes up earlier than she does. She's got some auditory sensitivities. She likes Her space, which has to be monitored and limited since the room is both of theirs. She likes Her stuff.
Then I moved on to myself...I am NOT organized and I stink with structure. Unfortunately A desperately needs structure in order to feel safe and in control. My idea of structure was looked like the world was spinning out of control to her. And that level of structure was hard for me to attain! Making sure I make the Same thing on the Same days every week for breakfast, remembering to start A's breakfast soundtrack on my iPod, having her set out her clothes for the next day the night before, and making sure she had approved clothing (read: tagless shirts and an extra pair of Bug's socks) to wear was (ok, IS) hard for me!
I thought I was doing good to get her up at roughly the same time every morning, get her fed and make sure she got dressed and hair fixed for the day.
Now I have to structure my days even more in order to ensure my child feels safe?
I've got to be the worst person for this job!
Then I got realistic. This is going to be hard. It will get better. It will never go away. God gave me A because He knew I could raise her well. God has also given me incredible resources (a great husband, an organized best friend, a supportive pediatrician) to use to help me and A get through this.
And that's a brief overview of my life over the past month...and that's not even including Mom and her recent hospitalization!