Henry begins to understand his SPD
Henry is uncomfortable. He has always been uncomfortable. Clothing itches. Slightly too long hair distracts him. His sock seam is not straight. It must be corrected. I know it sounds like no big deal. It is the quality of the winter light gives him a persistent headache that is the background his whole childhoodough.
He hears too much. Phones are too loud. Firetrucks, fire alarms, ambulances and occasionally even the chime of our downtown crosswalk – all of them are too loud. Lightbulbs are sometimes too loud. The buzz in his ear. Bugs are too loud. He can hear them too. He can hear the breeze, the traffic and the dogs 3 block away. The planet is too loud for someone who cannot screen out background noise.
While trying not to hear all of this, he is seeing too much. The quality of the winter light gives him a persistent headache that is the background his whole childhood. People in motion, classrooms crowded with signs, posters, artwork. In an effort to make sense of it all, he will hyper focus on one thing – if it is a computer screen, or TV screen that will trump all other visual stimulations. If not he will focus on reading that sign in the hallway, an effort to block out the moving kids, the traffic outside, the patterns on the floor and the buzzing fluorescent lights.
I don’t know how he gets through lunch in a cafeteria swarmed by first graders. He smells and tastes too much too, though this seems to cause less discomfort than seeing and hearing too much.
At nearly 7 he knows he is uncomfortable. He knows he is not as comfortable as some people. He does not understand that neurological dysfunction in vestibular sense prevents him from feeling grounded and connected to the earth. Sometimes I feel mildly disoriented if I miss the last step on the stairs, or if my chair isn’t exactly where I thought it was . I land a bit sooner or later than I planned. Gravity misbehaved. Henry lives like this. He is perpetually seeking that grounded connected feeling. I remember running down a steep driveway with my friends when I was his age. Our mouths open making the same ahhhh sound we would for the doctor listening to our own impact with the pavement changed our voices. The impact of my feet on the pavement shooting up my legs into my core. Henry seeks that daily. His body crying out to say it: Pound, pound, pound, I am here, I am connected. I am earthbound. Most kids with SPD have anxiety. Henry spent 3 years afraid the wind could make him blow away. …continue reading