One chilly day last fall when our family was in that purgatory-like state between diagnosis and actually snagging an OT appointment, my home phone rang. This is significant because I only receive calls on my residential number from telemarketers, my mother and… my kids’ schools.
I swallowed hard looking at the caller ID. Nausea arrived as the name and number of my 5-year-old son’s preschool flashed before me. The voice on the other end announced a difficult day and my need to come retrieve him as soon as possible.
I can’t even recall the specifics of his transgressions that day; however, etched into my mind is the splotchy-faced little boy who hunched over in the backseat of my minivan and sobbed into the sleeve of his shirt as he declared that God had made a mistake. He was the wrong boy and he demanded to be someone else.
My heart ached (as did my husband’s) as our fashion-unconscious, charismatic son had become increasingly somber, pessimistic, physically aggressive and just down right unpleasant. At this point in our sensory journey, he was becoming very aware of how his behavior was “different” from his friends’ behavior. Sitting on the floor of our family room with him curled up in my lap, I searched my mind and my heart for an explanation both age-appropriate and reassuring to his self-image.
On that day, I told him the story of his “sensory superpowers.” We talked about how his system feels and experiences things in extremes…. sometimes too much and sometimes not enough.
His sensory skills were comparable to those of Peter Parker (Spiderman) and Clark Kent (Superman). They were both ordinary boys like him who did not ask for the powers they were given. Clark and Peter were not immediate masters of their powers. Each boy had to learn to control his powers. Clark had to learn to jump before he could fly.
Spiderman and Superman both learned with great power comes great responsibility. (Cheesy, I admit… but true.) Each chooses to become a hero, not a villain. Each chooses to use his powers for good, not evil.
And so with love, laughter and deep tissue massage, we have embraced our personal superhero.
I am Superman
And I can do anything! – Michael Stipe/REM
On a personal note: My SPD superhero no longer attends preschool. He is harnessing his skills right here at home and at OT. We are excited to announce the confirmation of his brother’s superpowers. And I no longer get nauseous when our home phone rings.