Raising two kids with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) means I spend a disproportionate amount of time either providing or avoiding sensory disruption for my little angels. Curlytop, six years old, is mostly sensory-avoidant, with minor nuances of sensory-seeking behaviors. Her sister, Snugglebug, five, is sensory-seeking a majority of the time, with trifles of sensory-avoidance thrown in for good measure.
Snugglebug is a toe-walker, relishing the extra stimulation on her toes. She’s forever climbing, spinning, or flipping herself over, and she’d have a beanbag or a blanket on top of her head all day long if it was practical. When it comes to clothes, however, she insists on going au naturale or—if forced to wear clothing for the comfort of the general public—opts for rustling crinolines, tutus or petticoats and fitted bodices to give her an extra boost of sound and snugness around her torso. I can’t keep her out of our family pool, either
She’s like Ester Williams and Shirley Temple, all rolled into one.
Curlytop, on the other hand, abhors water, prefers closed doors to provide clean lines throughout rooms, claps her hands over her ears and emits glass-shattering shrieks at the sound of applause, decries crinolines and petticoats as “too noisy,” and would rather have her head shaved than go down a slide.
That is, if her head could be touched without the requisite screams of pain.
The girls’ preferences aren’t always at odds, though. Both require a minimum of 30 minutes of back, arm and leg scratching before they’ll go down for bed (“Mama, scraaaaatch my back. Please. Please?”). Both prefer a plastic utensil to metal, as plastic is less likely to transfer heat or cold from foods. Both insist on soft, fuzzy blankets which can be stroked during cuddling.
It’s hard for people not familiar with SPD to understand the world feels, smells, sounds, tastes and looks different for my kiddos, and I’m insanely grateful to have found a hair stylist who is an SPD mom, herself. Curlytop and Snugglebug get rock star treatment, and their sensitivities are understood and respected.
Now, I just need to find schools, babysitters, restaurants, grocery stores, libraries, a church and parks geared toward sensory issues.
Would it also be too much to ask auto manufacturers to create a vehicle in which all seats are middle seats (much freaking out if someone has to touch a door), climate control that doesn’t involve fans (can’t have air blowing in the car), and a radio that won’t go above three (Mr. Wright is a big fan of Spinal Tap’s “eleven”)?
While I’m asking, when at public performances, could we go back to the cool jazz and poetry snapping of the Sixties, in place of applause?
Perhaps Mother Nature could be bothered to tone down the scent and vibrancy of spring flowers. Our yard is littered with them, and like bees—which buzz far too loudly for Curlytop, by the way—my little gardeners are drawn to them, and can’t resist plucking the blooms, rolling them over their skin and clothing, perfuming themselves like ancient Egyptians. That’s a lot of pollen making its way into the home of a mama with severe allergies.
And seriously, Disneyland, is it really necessary to saturate the entire park with vivid colors, smells, and music blasting everywhere? We’d like to visit again, but after our last Small World ride experience, I think security has our photos on posters at the entry gate.
Do you have a child with SPD? What tricks and tips do you utilize to make the world more comfortable for your child? Learn more about SPD at http://www.sinetwork.org” http://www.sinetwork.org.