Monday, November 3, 2014

Confessions of an SPD Mom

My son has Sensory Processing Disorder. This morning we went for a walk as a family, and happened upon a neighbor going our way. My husband chatted with him for about a block or so, which caused my son to have a meltdown. He sat down and refused to walk, then did walk but covered his ears the whole time and said, "Too much talking! I can't take it!"  

He still likes to throw himself down on the ground and can be rough with his friends. He frequently feels out of sorts. He chews on his clothes and anything wood or plastic. He still eats a limited diet, governed by texture, temperature, appearance, and familiarity. When I try to get him to write, he turns into a human noodle. He is alternately exhausted and supercharged, with no happy medium.

I expect more of him, now that he is five, somehow an important milestone to me. I find myself telling him more often to control his body, to calm down, to think about what he's doing. When he has a public meltdown, I feel embarrassed now, like it is a poor reflection of my parenting. And I have begun to make comments like, "You're five now!" or "You're making a big deal out of nothing, this is not worth that much fuss!"

He still needs more and more and more. By the end of the day, or sometimes even half-way through, both my husband and I are worn out from his intense emotions and constant demands.

We signed him up for a taekwondo class three times a week, which we are committed to despite the commute. We hope that it will help give him some of the physical input he needs since occupational therapy is not available here. During the first class, he ignored the teacher's instructions and was frequently off in his own world. He was thrilled with the class, but I worried about all the ways he did not conform. I am a rule-following people pleaser, while my son marches to his own drum.

I love that about him. I want to preserve that. I don't want to scare or threaten him into conformity. I still want to teach him to be respectful and polite, but I don't want him to lose himself by trying to please others, especially me. I can be overbearing and impatient as a mother. I often want peace at any cost.

We almost didn't survive his first year. Two and three eased up a bit, inch by inch. During his fourth year, I saw huge leaps and I convinced myself that the SPD would soon be a thing of the past. But with homeschooling and increased social expectations, I think five may be our most challenging year yet.

I need to take a deep breath and let go of my expectations. I need to figure out what I am going to say to strangers and family and people at church, in English and in Spanish, since his SPD is here to stay. I need to show my son my pleasure in him. More smiling eyes and less hairy eyeballs. I want him to love himself, not to feel like he isn't good enough. To build him up and not tear him down when he makes mistakes.

And to have more fun together. In our home, I am The Enforcer. I need to tell myself what I tell my son, "Relax, it's no big deal," because most things have a solution and it's not anger. I need more grace and patience and joy. I especially need to let go of other people's opinions. I can't discipline the SPD out of him. My job is to worry about what my son needs, not what other people think of my parenting. Help me, Lord, to raise my son in a way that encourage his creative, sensitive spirit to flourish.

That should be my SPD Mom Manifesto.


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