My husband can attest that living in a house full of mostly females (he does have the cat in his gender corner) can be a little overly dramatic at times. It can also be hilarious, fun-loving, moody, exciting, yap-happy, over-whelming, get-me-out-of-here crazy, and awesome. Are you noticing the roller coaster ride?
“B” is full of emotions and we love that about her. She always has been quite sensitive, astute, inquisitive, thoughtful, loving and yes, moody. Let’s be honest…most children have moods that fluctuate over the years (I’m thinking about taking a sabbatical during the teenage years), but “B” has always been more emotional than most kiddos her age.
I remember the hysterics over friends/family members leaving after a brief visit. I’m talking a hyperventilating sob session because they were simply going home. I remember “B” having a melt-down so severe at her 1st dentist office visit I thought the dentist was going to get her finger chomped off (she failed to remove it from her mouth while she was engaged in a screaming, kicking, flailing, hyperventilating, sobbing flight-or-fight response). She was an emotional mess anytime we tried to re-arrange her room, or when we tried to give her medicine. Oh, the flashbacks to medicine! As an infant/toddler, “B” would be so over-the-top hysterical about taking medicine it would take both my husband and I to hold her down in the bathtub. During one of the med battles, she bit my husband’s finger. He yelled out so loud I thought he needed stitches! When she was tested for a heart murmur at 13 months, it took a nurse, my husband, and myself to hold her down just to get the medicine in her. The nurse was not at all understanding about dealing with an “uncooperative” toddler.
The melt-downs continued with food. She would sit at the table and sob over certain foods we placed in front of her. Her eyes still well up with tears when we introduce her to a food she can’t quite tolerate.
I also recall how angry she’d get over these things. It wasn’t just tears. There were many times, she’d kick, scream, stomp full force around her room, shake, cry, and gag until I thought she was going to vomit. I remember thinking, “I should video-tape these tantrums to show her how out of control she is.” Little did I know her body REALLY was out of control.
In many of the situations I described, “B’s” body was in fight or flight mode. According to Abbie Smith (Licensed Clinical Social Worker @ Holt International), “B’s” body has difficulty filtering out unnecessary sensory information (2011). Everyday sensory experiences can cause a flight-or-fight response and lead to frequent melt-downs. Kids with sensory processing difficulties will often times give 100% effort to accomplish something. “B” absolutely does this. When you’re trying to keep it together 100% of the time, this will cause kids with sensory difficulties to become exhausted and fall apart. Abbie Smith wrote a very descriptive and insightful article about the everyday challenges children with sensory difficulties face. You can find her article at http://holtinternational.org/pas/newsletter/2011/06/07/emotional-regulation-sensory-processing-disorder-2/. The Perfect Playground NY: Blog just came out with additional information regarding sensory processing, modulation, and emotional response. Feel free to check out this article as well http://www.theperfectplaygroundny.com/blog/?p=107. Both pages are full of awesome information.
Thanks to “B’s” fantastic OT, we have been helping her self-regulate through the brushing program and a strict sensory diet that consists of swings, a trampoline, crash cushions, taco roll-ups, a hoppity hop, thera-putty, and other fun exercises/toys. If anyone has any specific questions on “B’s” sensory diet let me know.
Despite all of the emotional melt-downs, “B” is one of the most loving and caring kids I’ve ever met (Yes, I’m biased). She has a heart of gold, the compassion to love and accept everyone for who they are, and wisdom that goes beyond her 4.5 years. We are so blessed to have this little girl in our lives. She’s taught us that love knows no bounds. 🙂