Saturday, April 09, 2016

What day is it? Where am I? What's Going On?

Oh, right, Spring. It's here. Kind of. And Joey's birthday is upon us- he is so excited, he couldn't focus in school at all or get anything done. Besides- spring! Time to go ALL OUT NUTSO-BONKO!!!

Sensory processing issues are part and parcel with autism. Since autism is neurological and pervasive, Joey's whole experience is affected, and his nervous system interprets and deals with sensory data as differently as all the other data he gets. We spend a lot of time figuring out what his sensory needs are, how he is seeing the world around him, and what strategies and interventions will help him cope and function in the world.

One of the reasons we spend so much time on this is because it isn't constant. Every spring, everything shifts and changes. Things that bother him now will suddenly be fine. Situations he could tolerate at Christmas now become overwhelming and impossible. He does this again in the fall. The season change and shift, the transition between extremes of weather and temperature, throw him into a tizzy, and his body shifts and changes with it.

This annoys people who don't know much about sensory integration and why it can be a problem. They treat it like a bee allergy, where once you react, you always react. This month he may be sound-sensitive; in six months, that may shift around and have him not be able to process sound (resulting in not being able to understand people talking to him) or to an over-tolerance (so that he will actually seek loud sounds, and his own voice volume goes up). Certain textures will swing wildly from tolerable to intolerable to craved. There is no way to know what will shift, what it will shift to; old problems re-emerge and newer issues fade or dramatically worsen.

He can't tell, either. If you thing it is confusing and frustrating for us, it is tenfold for him. Things he enjoyed doing are now too noisy, too bright, nor not enough. This means his own strategies no longer work, and he has to go back to square one, just as we do. He has to re-think it all out all over again, while being uncomfortable and even scared. Not fun.

The excitement of upcoming birthday gets tossed into the spring mix, along with the looming summer schedule changes. Anxiety everywhere! I wish there was a way to predict which way the sensitivities will swing, so we can prepare, so we can help him prepare, so we can get out the right tools for coping with the changes.

Right now, I'm just doing what I can- making sure my sensory bag is stocked, checking up on the paint and playdough supplies, getting ready to get the back yard in order so he has space to run and jump and think. Oh, and shhhhh... birthday surprise... buying him a new bike...


Adelaide Dupont said...

Thank you for reminding us that sensory life is not like a bee allergy.

There are other allergies/sensitivities/intolerance which function more like the sensory space.

Going back to square one.


Celebratory flaplause.

Joeymom said...

YEs, some allergies can be treated, and some just shift or go away on their own- not so with bee sting allergies. They just build.