Talk about echoes of my childhood and my present with my Sensory Processing Disorder (a.k.a. Sensory Integrative Dysfunction).
Sensory overload still erupts in a flight or fight response that makes me want to scream and run away. What validation and relief I would have felt if such a book had been written was I was a girl.
How lucky her daughter is that she has the SPD diagnosis. In the book the fictional girl goes from the hurting words to words of relief. Her parents are able to help her, and they accept her the way she is. In my heart, I know that had there been an SPD diagnosis in my childhood, my mother would have read this book to me.
As a parent of a child with SPD, we hadn’t known about it in “his” younger years. (My child does not wish to be identified.) “He” hated to be touched. Like in the book, he had to be taught to accept a hug, but only a certain kind–the very tight ones.
Later he learned that touch can soothe also, but always hard touch like a massage when I push my palms hard into his back muscles and neck. I had to do that every night for years so he could get to sleep.
This book is too late to read to him, but it is perfect timing for so many parents who wonder what is wrong with their children. It’s as much of an education for them as it is for the child, since, in parts of the book, it is written from the child’s perspective, so parents may be able to relate to their child a little bit more.
I must admit that when I first read it, I was sad–very sad. I remember the pain, literally and emotionally. One event stands out in my mind.
Forest Park Elementary School was a radical idea in the 70′s. It was an open concept school, meaning children could move from class to class depending on their skill level in a particular subject, which my mother thought would be better for me rather than skipping any more grades. But, the classes had no walls; it was literally an open concept. The 360-degree noise burned my senses until one day, I freaked.
I ran to the bathroom and sat in the corner and leaned against the wall. With my fists clenched and my body in a tight fetal position, I rocked. The breath coming into my lungs hurt. My head hurt so badly that my vision blurred. A teacher found me and carried me to the front office where my mother picked me up. At home, I hid in my room for hours until the pain abated.
After this happened many times, I was dubbed as having migraines. Now I know that I don’t have migraines and likely never did. It hurt; I screamed in my head for help; I was in pain; and I was very scared. Yes, I did get teased. My mother was mystified, and I remember her face looking scared too. The doctors said there was nothing they could do.
If you know a child who screams, hits, hides, runs away, or has other unexplained outbursts, read about Sensory Processing Disorder. If the child is diagnosed with this disorder, buy I’m Not Weird, I have SPD so the child can feel a sense of relief too.