I don’t know what caused my sweet boy’s brain to be wired the way it is. Maybe it was the first 7 months of his life that was spent in an orphanage or maybe it was the lack of prenatal care his mother received? It could be genetics, poor nutrition, lack of being held…so many things could have caused my little guy to struggle harder than the next. So many.
I am blessed to say that Max has worked through most of his issues. Yes, some still linger or rear their heads in stressful times but all-in-all he is (we are) doing great. This leads me to my “if you can’t beat’em, join’em” mentality for treating Max’s sensory ways.
This is how I begin to define, one part, of what Sensory Processing Disorders means to our family.
Smelling. I can smell a lit cigarette from a mile away. If Byron comes home from playing poker with the guys, I know instantly if he was drinking Jack or Beer. I can smell the individual scents between baby fresh deodorant, rosemary mint body lotion and Channel No.5…all worn by the same person. My smeller is good and when I smell these smells, I barely notice I can smell them. It’s “there” but does not consume me for more than a Nano Second. Now the best way I can describe what Max feels, is to take all this and amp it up by 1000. When he would smell something, it would stop him dead in his tracks. His need to inhale the smell would be so overpowering, it would interfere with his daily life. Even bad smells, the urge was stronger than his will power. One time after church service, we where all piling out of the pew to go home and I look down to find Max stopped in his tracks smelling the pew cushion were people had been sitting. I had to drag him away. Shame him into leaving. I was mortified, he was beaten down. Everything in our lives at this time was consumed by smelling. I would find him on the ground, the wall, strangers…you name it, he was smelling it. This need to seek smells was interfering with his play, relationships and how he felt about himself. So, it was time to come up with a solution. It was time to join’em.
One particular morning, the smell seeking was bad. I needed a fix and I needed it right away. So, I picked Max up and sat him on the kitchen counter. I opened the spice drawer and started opening lids. I would offer each spice, one-at-a-time. He would smell and we would talk about the smell. He would make faces at the different smells, asking to pass on some and smell some twice. I “played” at his pace. Maybe this took 10 minutes? Maybe 15? What matters is that Max stopped smelling. He controlled the behavior. He walked away from the experience and smelling did not interfere with his behavior the rest of the day. His Sensory Seeking meter was full and I was on to something.
It is important to me that I provide everything my son needs to be successful in life. Yes, this can sound like a crazy broad statement, but hang with me for a second. It is human nature to want to make life easier for our children and when our children struggle we want to ease the pain. It is also equally important to me that I raise a child who can ease his own pain and create his own successes. I want us to meet in the middle. Max needed the independence and behavior modification to deal with his issues. Max knows himself best and on days when he is seeking, he needs to learn to fill his own meter (& I don’t want him playing in my spice drawer). So, I created a smelling station.
Plastic Storage Bottles w/ Seal Tight Lids
Misc. Scented Oils (I bought warmer oils in the candle section of Walmart)
Now, whenever Max feels the need to smell, he helps himself. He is learning to be a “fixer” just like his mother