Tag Archives: Sensory Processing Disorder

Sensational Christmas morning

I remember being a kid and waiting not so patiently for Christmas morning. I remember my brother and I trying so hard to stay awake to hear Santa and waking up at 4 am and waiting until our parents would allow us to go downstairs. I couldn’t wait for the presents, to see what exciting things Santa left. Christmas morning was awesome.

Naturally when I had kids I couldn’t wait to relive that moment. I was excited to see the reaction of all their new gifts and toys under the tree. This video is a pretty good representation of every Christmas morning, except the fact that no one is crying this year and it didn’t take 20 minutes of coaxing to get the kids even near their gifts. In fact the kids actually opened their gifts this year, so it is a step in the right direction. I have high hopes for Charlie next year that he will actually be excited on Christmas morning. I only assume Molly will be questioning the existence of Santa by then. This year she already wants to know why Santa built her a chalkboard last year on the wall and this year brought her one on an easel. Santa needs to get his stuff together.

On the bright side, we don’t have kids waking us up at 4:30 AM to collect their bounty.

10 Things SPD has taught me

While I was pregnant I read a lot of books. Books about pregnancy, books about parenting, about sleeping, about feeding, etc etc etc. Then Molly came and I learned that I wasted a lot of time. Molly doesn’t fit into a mold and she definitely doesn’t care about what the latest experts have to say because she has her own game plan. Of course it would help if she could hand over her user manual, but she won’t, so until then I just watch and learn and hope I’m picking up the right lessons in life.

1. Cereal is appropriate for any meal or snack. Also, surprisingly, you can survive on said diet and have rock hard abs. I might make millions one day from marketing it as the newest diet fad.

2. Surround yourself with people and things that make you happy. Never in my life have I met someone that openly avoids things and people they dislike. I think how much better life would be if adults could have the same kind of freedom.

3. The world is a scary place and there is nothing wrong with carrying someone that needs your help or asking to be carried.

4. Headphones don’t need music attached. Sometimes they just block out the world. Maybe I should just buy ear muffs for her.

5.  Sleep is vital. I actually knew this one and am really happy my children agree and get a good 12 hours a night. I can be kind of bitchy and whiny without sleep.

6. Noises are awful, unless she is making it. Apparently loud banging or high pitched shrieking is okay if you make the noise. Anyone else is unacceptable.

7.Sunglasses inside aren’t just for hangovers

8. Pick your battles. This goes for the kids as well as adults or other parents. Sometimes it really is easier to say “Ok” even when you don’t agree and save your energy for the things that matter.

9. No matter what the weather is outside, clothing is optional inside. .

10. Rules are made to be followed. However, feel free to bend them as much as you can get away with. Never in my life have I met someone that can follow rules so closely but then manipulate her way into breaking them without actually breaking them. I need to learn a few lessons of manipulation from this girl. Case in point, we started a house rule about inappropriate touching. After discussing it Molly asked for a hug and then proudly announced that “My chin touched your boobies!”This girl is clever.

Caught with my hand in the cookie jar

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In my previous life I’ve been known to eat. There was the time I ate an entire apple pie and the time I ate the entire wholesale club size tub of cheese balls and I have yet to live down my order of 10 soft tacos from Taco Bell. In my defense, I was a swimmer and those tacos are so small! Since I’ve aged and started paying for my own groceries, I’ve learned to tone down my appetite a little bit. I’ve also learned to do food math like “I have ten cookies, if I eat two cookies a night that means I can have cookies for five days”. Five days of two cookies sounds much better than one day of ten cookies. (note: this math does not work when married to Stampy who will eat your cookies as a late night snack)

So, Stampy and the kids made cookies Wednesday afternoon. Delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies. On Wednesday and Thursday they were eaten in sane amounts, properly doling out cookies as desserts for everyone. Then last night happened. There were three cookies left. I could eat one cookie and save two so each kid could have one more cookie or I could eat three cookies. I chose the latter. I can’t even remember the last time I ate three cookies in one sitting and now I don’t know why I don’t do it more often. They were delicious! (I do have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe) Of course there is the littlest bit of mommy-guilt kicking in that I didn’t save the kids a cookie, but I try not to let that get to me. I didn’t even eat their Halloween candy!

I forgot one tiny little detail about Molly. She notices EVERYTHING. She is the most observant little girl in the entire world. Her ability to spot patterns and shapes in her environment is part of what could put her on the spectrum. She knows when we move things, she noticed when her OT office changed a painting on the wall, she knows where everything is in the house. She sees all. This is a problem when you eat the last of cookies. I wasn’t prepared to answer this question “where are the cookies?”. 

Me: They are all gone

Molly: Where did they go? There were 3 last night in the container. Who ate them? Who ate ALL the cookies?

Me: I did.

I was then faced with the biggest look of disappointment ever. It was like she was sensing my built-in guilt and was taking full advantage of it. I hate that look. It’s the same look I got when I told her that 679 people finished before me when I ran my race. A look of disgust and disappointment in my actions. 

So, I told her we would bake cupcakes. Problem solved.

A Week of Thanks

Every November I try to say what I’m thankful for on Facebook on each day of November. I’m not going to lie, we had a tough week this week but I still managed to start out being thankful for my kids today. In the grand scheme of things, they are pretty awesome, quirkiness and all. However, I feel like I had a lot of be thankful for this week and I feel like I should have started out giving thanks earlier than November first. So, I will share here what I was thankful for this week.

1. Yoga. On top of it’s breathing and relaxation techniques, I’m thankful for the flexibility and strength it has given me. Without out, I don’t think I would have been able to wrestle Molly into her car seat, twice, without all that extra bending ability and core stability.

2. Wine. This should go without saying, but I’m extra thankful for the nice people at Bota for putting it in box form. And making that box slightly classier than Franzia.

3. Radio. Nothing drowns out a child kicking and screaming than Top 40. To be honest, I don’t even know what I was listening to, I couldn’t hear it over the screaming.

4. Swedish Fish. I’m thankful to whichever neighbor gave us Swedish Fish in Charlie’s bag on Halloween. That way at every other house when he handed us a Snickers and said “open this” we could give him a fish and subdue him until the next house.

5. Sleep. I cut my coffee intake by half this week and although I feel much better physically and seem to have less brain fog, I can’t sleep. I’m thankful for it and hope it returns soon.

6. Preschool. Especially the aide in Molly’s class that peeled her out of the car kicking and screaming as if it was nothing and she was happy to see her. Let’s face it, we all know she was thinking “oh Jesus” or maybe not since it’s a Christian preschool but I’m sure whatever her thoughts were, they weren’t great. No one could be excited to have that child in that state being handed to them. I’m her mom and I would run the other direction.

So, there you have it. What I am thankful for this week. I wish I could be thankful for Stampy bringing home some food from his happy hour, especially a cheese plate, but I know that won’t happen.

Therapy Thursday: Expect the Unexpected

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Wow… today was a bit of a doozy. For starters we had a field trip to the pumpkin patch where Molly decided that she was terrified of picnic tables and had me hold her for the next twenty minutes. So, after being exhausted from tending to her all morning I decided for a nice quiet time activity. I’m tired and think I’ve hit the jack pot with a pumpkin painting activity so naturally there were tears (mine) and screaming (hers) and a time out (mine).

Anyone else have their 4 year old send them to a “calm down spot”? No? Oh, well, mine does. Honestly, I don’t mind the couple of minutes of quiet where no one bothers you.

I was super psyched that our social worker was coming today. I was having the internal struggle of meeting Molly’s needs and wants and feeling like I was failing big time at everything. Should I have carried her at the pumpkin patch? Did she really need fresh paints when hers mixed? Should I just have ended craft time before losing my temper??? I needed our counselor to talk me through it and keep me out of the wine. She listened then she questioned “what if this isn’t what a 4 year old should be doing?”.

Crickets chirp.

Oh. Even though I was having some concerns with some behavioral shifts, especially toileting and becoming more and more helpless, and the fact that her teacher had made more than one report home about some difficulty I was still telling myself that Molly was 4 years old. I also knew that in a lot of cases she is on par with Charlie emotionally, but it’s something else when it is put out in the universe. That looming question that I don’t have an answer for because I tend to dance around it on a daily basis. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer for it but I do know that what I have always suspected is right on. So I got over my punch in the stomach (which I asked for) and said “what do we do?”. For now we were given 3 options: do nothing and ride out this school year; have her retested through Child Find; or see the psychiatrist through our youth services bureau. I picked option 4: have our counselor talk with the teacher and observe Molly in class so we could make a more informed decision. Mostly because I don’t want to go through Child Find again and have her not qualify. The testing is long and exhausting for everyone and I can’t put us through that again and have the same outcome. It’s ridiculous.

So, that’s where we stand. Waiting. Waiting for an answer of where to go next. I have a feeling we will often be in this limbo with Molly so I should get used to it.

The Lake and The Water Tower

I hate the lake and the water tower. Especially today, after a rough evening home with the kids, I remember why I hate them. The lake and the water tower are 2 things that we pass on the way to OT and these 2 things can make or break our day.

The first time we went to our OT’s office, I had to map to find out where it was. Now, mind you it is a block away from where I worked for 5 years, but I still had to navigate my way there. Of course we went the shortest mileage, but longest time-wise way. It took 3 trips for me to realize there was a faster way. That’s right, 3. 3 trips to realize I was going the wrong way. I obviously need help. In those 3 trips Molly fell in love with a reservoir (the lake) and a water tower that we passed along the way. I suppose in her mind they are significant, but so is a tiny piece of string she finds on the carpet so I try not to actually comprehend her object’s importance. Trip #4 my brain returned and we took the faster, 1/2 mile longer way to therapy and it was a big mistake. HUGE. Molly realized that she hadn’t seen her beloved lake and we were going a different direction and the tears started. Not just any old tears. Full. Blown. Sobbing. She sobbed for 10 minutes then refused to cooperate with her therapist and she persevered about the water tower and the lake. For an hour. A week later for our next appointment she reminded me to go the right way. Now I always go the longer way to OT now and point out like a stark raving lunatic when we see each because God forbid she misses them because she’s distracted by something else.

These 2 things symbolize pretty much everything during our days. The inability to cope with the different and our need to over stress to keep her balanced. Every Monday I have a struggle as we drive our 20 minute drive whether I should point them out or just see what happens. Usually “seeing what happens” means “keeping your cool while your child screams” and a lot of days I just can’t bring myself to do it. After working all morning and having the kids by myself until bedtime, I just can’t add extra stress. Today, I forgot. I actually forgot about them. We were listening to music and I had 50 things running through my mind and I missed the lake. Aaahhhhh…… she didn’t notice! Oh, wait, she did. 2 minutes later she realized that we were passed it and she didn’t see it. The next 10 minutes she bawled. She missed the water tower because she was crying. She cried more. I wondered if I had wine in my purse. I did not.

You can bet on the way home I became that over zealous mom, “LOOK!!! THERE’S THE WATER TOWER!!!!! ARE YOU LOOKING??? LOOK AT THE WATER TOWER!” If I wasn’t seat belted in I probably would’ve done more gesturing and jumping.

And if it’s not a lake, it’s waving to people as they drive away. Or sitting in the exact same spot on the couch. Or brushing teeth before going to the bathroom. Or waiting at the top of the stairs for me to say “good morning” or one of her 10,000 other external rituals that keep her grounded, I have to know them all or face the consequences. I should probably start writing them down. Although chances are, I would never find time to read the list anyway. Instead I’ll just keep dealing with each tantrum and routine as they come in hopes that one day they just might phase out and I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Until that day, I will just have to invest in my wine purse.

We Are Supposed To Be Having Fun!

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This weekend was the Fall Festival in our town. We don’t have the standard summer carnival, instead we have a big event for 3 days that includes carnival rides, music, food, crafts and games. It’s a pretty big event for our little city and of course it seems like the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning if you have kids. Or I should say, if you don’t have our kids.

Three reasons why we should stay home:
1. Food Allergies. First and foremost pretty much all delicious carnival food is a no no. All those peanut oils and chocolates and deep fried foods are all a danger to Charlie and being in the air is enough to make me almost insane. Peanuts are one of those great food allergies that become environmental when cooked apparently so there’s the fear that random peanut proteins will jump from the fryer and into Charlie’s mouth, eyes or nose. Plus Charlie thinks ground food is equally if not more edible than normal served at the table food so I’m on extra alert.

2. Motion Sickness. Charlie gets car sick. He has now vomited twice in the car and complained of being sick and hot numerous times while driving. Needless to say, one ride and he was done. I’m honestly amazed he made it on one. It’s the first time he’s been on a carnival ride by himself. And probably the last time.

3. Molly.

I can’t tell you how many times we do things that are “family fun” oriented and end up leaving stressed, tired and with cranky kids. Molly tries her best but when push comes to shove, she can’t regulate that much stimulation so she ends up trying to soothe herself which means she ends up trying to hang from all my limbs or asking to be carried. Have you ever carried a 35 pound 4 year old for a prolonged period of time? I have. More than once. I have carried her through the zoo, I have carried her through the tractor show, I have carried her on walks around the block and I saw myself carrying her from our Fall Fest. It was coming: the whining, the hanging and the carrying. You could see it in her deteriorating behavior and we quickly opted to leave, unused ride tickets and all.

Then there it was…. the playground.

An entire carnival the kids want nothing to do it with but a playground?? Hells yeah! After 10 minutes and Charlie trying to play in a near by dumpster and throwing himself on the mulch face first in a fit, we quickly gathered the kids and headed for home.

I hope the kids remember these times fondly, as we have no real pictures of the kids not enjoying are family fun outings.

Parent Fail: Miniature Golf Style

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Doesn’t this look like a fun family outing? Everyone is enjoying a round of miniature golf, the Wild Card is even wearing a collared shirt, but in reality it was a disaster. A parenting fail at its worst. The Mollinator is a perfectionist at the age of 4 and thanks to her Sensory Processing Disorder she also has motor delays, primarily in motor planning. It’s hard enough for a 4 year old to grasp the hand-eye coordination to successfully putt the ball through obstacles and into a hole, now imagine one that can’t sequence all of her movements correctly or figure out how hard or soft she needs to hit the ball to get it to the hole and on top of that have her be a perfectionist so when she doesn’t get a hole-in-one she thinks she failed. Did you get all that? I can tell you that it’s a recipe for disaster and tears next to a #8 flag. She actually sat down on hole 8 to exclaim she was a bad golfer. She’s 4 and the thought that she couldn’t hit the ball into a hole in one shot was just too much for her to bear. Luckily it was a rainy day so the course was pretty empty but those that were there saw parenting at its worst best.

As parents we want our kids to have fun so we tried everything in our power to turn that frown upside down but nothing worked. Her frustrations got bigger and our patience got smaller. I tried to avoid it but I walked to the car with a screaming kid in tow. I did my best not to yell, I just handed her putter to Stampy and walked away, but honestly I wanted to scream. Not at Molly, this isn’t her fault. I wanted to scream at the universe for making this our reality. Our reality that we will most likely leave places early and in tears. Only to come home and have whiney temper tantrums and cling with all her might to me. It’s the reality that some days make me want to peel my skin off and it’s the reality that ends in alcohol or exercise.

So I take a lot of pictures in hopes that when I look back at them I will remember the few moments where we smiled and laughed. So I remember fun outings with the kids. And so when Molly accuses me of never taking her anywhere, I can show her that we did. Maybe I’ll also show her this post to explain why our outings were so few and far between.

The Wild Card was there too. I assumed he would run like a crazed monkey all over the course so naturally he tried to play golf and stayed right by me. He also got carried to the car screaming, but that was because he was having fun and didn’t want to leave.

I Love Therapy!

Today is a Therapy Thursday and that always makes me smile. Before it would make me smile because I really saw the benefits of our behavioral therapy in our day to day lives. We had minimal tantrums and the ones Molly did have were only 10 minutes as opposed to 45 minutes (and who doesn’t love less crying??). Now I love Therapy Thursdays because I get an hour to discuss my parenting/toddler problems to a professional and be told that I’m doing a great job (and who doesn’t love that boost of confidence??).

We are in the minority that does not find out the gender of our children before they are born. Throughout the pregnancy I made the mistake of saying 3 things:

  1. I don’t want the baby born on my birthday
  2. I don’t want a red head
  3. I would prefer a boy

It’s not that I didn’t want a girl, it’s just that I had an older brother and to me it just seemed natural to have a boy and girl in that order. I didn’t want a red head because I didn’t want my child bursting into flames the second she went outside (which red heads tend to do) and I didn’t mind sharing my birthday, I just didn’t want to spend my birthday in labor. In a hospital. In labor. I wanted to put my feet up and have some cake. So on my birthday at 11:11pm, after 26 hours of labor (I guess technically I did put my feet up), came a bright red haired baby girl. Yup. I really should have known from day 1 what we were in store for.
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Bringing her home from the hospital we knew we were completely under prepared to take care of a child so when the struggles came, I just assumed it was because I had little idea about what I was doing. I’ve always been more of a “I’ll just wing it person” and I took the same approach to parenting. Naturally when she was colicky, sleep deprived and suffering from acid reflux I handled it like a pro. And when she turned into a tantrum-y 2 year old, I handled it a little less like a pro and when she turned 3, I had a nervous break down. I seriously thought I was a failure at parenting. I couldn’t remain calm during the 7th tantrum of the day like the “professionals” recommended, my child was unhappy, my marriage was suffering, I learned that people that were supposed to love me were calling me “irrational” behind my back, and my nerves were fried. Then, in walked Marie. Our Social Worker from Heaven. I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t a failure. In fact I was doing quite well since I was still a functioning human being raising a child that was emotionally delayed like Molly. I liked Marie from day 1. Turns out we were raising a 3 1/2 year old that had the executive functioning of an 18 month old and the intelligence of a 5 year old. Apparently that makes for a lot of red flags to go up in the child development world.

Almost a year later we are happy. The stress is still there because, let’s face it, we can’t change who Molly is. We can change how we see her and what our expectations are for her. We are learning to balance what she really needs vs. what she thinks she needs and is trying to manipulate us for. Most importantly, I’ve learned that help is a good thing and that it’s ok if it takes a village to raise your child.

Therapy Thursday: The Whistle Game

I’m squeaking in on Thursday after a long day of dental work. Thanks to a Percocet and a pain free induced state, I napped for 2 hours today… now I’m wide awake at 11pm. This won’t make for a happy Friday. I will take it since for the first time in 9 days my tooth hasn’t been in excruciating pain.

Anyways… Therapy Thursday. We have been lucky enough to get Molly into both behavioral and occupational therapy for her Sensory problems. I can’t even thank the woman who got this ball rolling enough. She was our lifesaver. These therapy sessions have given us a lot of knowledge and activities to try and experiment with so today I thought I would share one of our favorite OT games. (Disclaimer: I invented this game, not our pediatric OT. It was invented by my orthopedic PTA brain once we were told to work on weight bearing through large joints). The kids call it The Whistle Game. Basically it’s this: I use a Tabata Timer app on my phone and force the kids to exercise. 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off for 4 minutes, come on kids… burn those calories! We pretend we are animals for 20 seconds at a time. This also helps for turn taking and quick thinking. At each whistle one of the kids picks an animal and everyone acts like it until the whistle blows again, then the next kid picks an animal. This is really good for weight bearing through the extremities as they crawl and slither around the floor and it gives Molly the proper input and help her calm down and keep her from full body slamming Charlie. I strongly recommend playing this game before making dinner. This helps change things up as the kids are getting bored and need something to do and it also helps give them the attention they crave before you need to disappear. It’s amazing how much can get accomplished if you give the kids your undivided attention. This game only backfires when someone chooses “horsey” and then everyone wants a horsey ride. Then you are the only one working on all 4s. What’s great is that this game allows for a lot of variety, not feeling animals today?? That’s ok, we sometimes do actual exercises: jumping jacks, squats, push ups. or running laps. You can really do any activity you want for this, the possibilities are endless.

There are a ton of free tabata apps on the phone, I use the HIIT app for Android. It’s Free and it’s easy enough to use that Molly has figured out how to use it so they can do it while I cook.