Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sensory Sensitivies

She leans against the tile of the tub,
chin to chest, staring at the white
linoleum floor. Tears are streaming down
her rosy cheeks, her sparkley silver pants
are undone around her waist. She can't explain
exactly what is wrong. She can't find the
right words. She knows only that the pants
don't feel right, the waist hurts, she
doesn't like the buttons. She can't just
get over it, deal with it and move on.
In a hurry to get her to school and get
myself to work, I start to get frustrated.
But she stands there crying real tears,
and my mind brings me back to childhood.
I'm overwhelmed by a memory of a feeling.

(I lean back against the green chair,
eyes cast down, staring at the green-gray
rug. Tears are wet on my cheek, and I'm
kicking the pink shoes with white laces
off my feet. I'm so uncomfortable, frustrated,
upset that I can't explain what's wrong. I can
only cry and yell, insist it's not right. The
shoe isn't tight enough, it doesn't match
the other, it doesn't feel right. I can't just
get over it, deal with it and move on. Nothing
else matters; I can't focus on anything but the
wrongness of the shoe. I won't put my jacket on
and get in the car already. School can wait. This
shoe must be fixed, must be just right or I
won't be able to think about anything else.)

Mimicking my mother from almost 30 years
earlier, I take a deep breath and kneel
down to be on her level. I tell her I
understand it doesn't feel right, tell her
we'll figure out what's wrong. It turns out
to be the adjustable waist band, the buttons
inside the pants. (The shoe string is too
loose on one side, not as tight as the other,
I loosen the elastic and fold
it over the buttons so they won't push
into her sensitive skin. (She undoes
the bow and tightens the laces.)
check with her, and she nods, her face
starting to brighten. I zip and button
the fly. (She checks with me, and I nod,
starting to calm down and feel better.
She ties a new bow.)
One last check;
all better. (One last check; all better.)

After dropping her off at school, silver
pants perfect around her waist, I call
my mom. I tell her about my morning. I
thank her for the patience, the understanding
she showed me when I would meltdown over
things not feeling right. I hear her smile
over the phone line. Of course she was
patient about my sensitivities. After all,
she has always had similar sensory issues
herself. Her mother was not as understanding,
and when her memories come to her, I know
she chose to act differently from her
own mom. I respect her even more.


This was a scene from the spring of 2011, and from my own childhood. Though I don't have sensory processing disorder (SPD), I have always dealt with sensory issues, which I believe is also true to some degree for my daughter. I have great respect for those who have to deal with SPD either themselves or with their children. It is not easy to deal with, and it can be hard to find the extra patience and understanding that is needed in situations that arise from the disorder or sensory sensitivities.