Have you ever been to a point in life in which you are not sure which direction to turn or who to talk to? Have you ever got to that point in which you wanted to throw your hands in the air and just cry out, “Seriously???”
A few years ago, my wife and I dropped all of our trivial stresses in life when we found that our son was legally blind in both eyes at 20/400. We worked closely with an eye doctor that was able to assist him up to a certain point but that quickly came to a plateau and we were referred to a Behavioral Optometrist. After just a few visits with the specialist, we begin to see signs that our son did not just have eye problems but was also struggling with multiple Sensory Integration Disorders or what is also referred to as Sensory Processing Disorder.
During our son’s first year in school, we found kindergarten to be a disaster. Between a teacher who admittedly was not used to handling kids with SPD and his quiet challenging behavior at times, we begin to wonder if our son would have a life beyond SPD. We had not taken him to a Occupational Therapist or any other specialist that could officially label him with SPD so the school district, while trying to be somewhat helpful, was hands off on their approach to my son. In other words, if he ‘acted out’ or had a ‘melt-down,’ they would just write him up as a bully or a hyperactive kid that needed to be medicated.
After somehow managing to survive kindergarten, we breathed a sigh of relief. Our thoughts were, “maybe it was just the teacher.” “Maybe our son is actually normal and all those who judged us for saying he had SPD were right in their attack.” Well, first grade came. The teacher had knowledge of SPD and was very open armed to our son. “I can handle him” she quipped. However, here we are nearing the backstretch of first grade and we are now at that stressful state of mind and aggravation that we had with the kindergarten year. Because the state and school have their hands tied, they refuse to accommodate his disorder or assist him in adaptive learning unless we officially label him.
The labeling is bothersome to me. I know, I know, it is a hang-up that I need to get past. But I also look at my son and know he is a bright young boy. He loves math, he loves school and when he applies himself, he gets A’s on all his papers. The problem though is that applying of oneself. One of his downfalls is being easily distracted and the inability to focus. Due to that, his grades are quickly declining and his love for school is waning.
In the very near future, my son will officially be tested. He will be ran through the battery of sessions and tests to find out where he stands and what we can do to help him cope with his SPD. There is a big unknown of what is to come from this testing. Will insurance assist us this time or will they be a large headache like they were with the Behavioral Optometrist? Will this ‘labeling’ hurt my son in the future? Will he ever be able to obtain a normal job or get a drivers license? Will he be looked down upon as if he has some type of mental illness? Many thoughts run through my head and the stress is ever present.
Thankfully, my wife and I know God. Between our faith in God and our close walk with Him, we are able to carry on spiritually even when our emotions are a wreck. We have learned that regardless of our emotions or stresses, we can never allow them to dictate our worship to God, so even when we are crying on the inside, we still give God our all.
This has helped tremendously as we walk down an unknown path with our son’s SPD. God has given a peace that passes all understanding and allowed us to handle the ups and downs of life with our son. Do we get angry or frustrated at times? Obviously, yes, we are after all, mere human beings. However, God has given us a balance to weigh our problems against Him. When God is in the scale, he outweighs ours or our son’s bad days every time. He is the lifter of the head and provides a place to run to when all the battles seem uphill.
For us, God has been the constant focus when our son has lost his. He keeps us from wringing the neck of the uneducated person who thinks a pill is the answer to the problem. He helps us stay calm when people blame our son’s personality on his upbringing. He holds our hand as we navigate through the ugly red tape of health insurance. He reminds us everyday that even though He is a miracle working God that could remove the disorder from our son at anytime, He also is a God that allows us to privilege a walk down the path of the unknown so we can learn and lean on Him.
We do not know what tomorrow may bring. We do know that our son has made strides and has come a long way already to this point. His social interaction is widening. His vision therapy assisted greatly, and he is beginning to learn how to cope with the moments in which his senses get out of whack. Whatever tomorrow does bring, we know that he is a unique boy and no disorder, no red tape, no uneducated person will be able to hold him back from fulfilling his full potential.