My husband and son met me outside work today and we went to get lunch. Neither of us realized that it was so hot, and that the food carts we wanted to visit were quite so far. Simon had woken up early, didn’t have water, and had been out in the heat and noise of traffic for over ten minutes.
Overstimulated is too gentle a phrase for the poor kid’s condition at that moment. Robert had him running up and down the block, tapping things, and it kept him from a meltdown until I got outside. He tossed himself on the ground when we said it was time to go, but we got a few steps away and he picked himself and chased after us. We kept him moving by sending him to tap each 3 he could find on the parking meters and made it to the food carts. I don’t do well in the heat, noise, or with hunger, so I mostly spaced on my little Beast while I tried to decide what I wanted. He sat down on the cement. He stood up. He sat down again. Up again. He stuck his hands in a box of spoons. He stuck his hands in a box of forks. He pushed a large metal siding and made it bump into some other people. I finally stopped repeating his name in a horrible exasperated voice and asked him to read the numbers on a tire. He did it, shifting back and forth on his feet.
I ordered and sat us down on a little bench nearby. Robert brought him an horchata, and 3/4 of it was gone in about a minute. I told him he had to wear his sunglasses and headphones or I’d take the drink away. He let me put them on despite his protests.
Suddenly all was right with the world. My charming son sat patiently while we waited for our various orders to be filled, sipping horchata. We got up to stand in the shade and wait for my food, and he just stood there, content to read a few words at a distance. I told him once to move over for someone and he listened right away, no complaints or wiggling right back after moving a few inches.
If ever there were a “magic wand” for my SPD kid, it would be those noise muffling headphones. I didn’t realize until after we got them what sound really does to him. It’s not just that it sounds too loud and painful, it sends his entire body into overdrive. His limbs become poking, jabbing, kicking things he truly cannot control. So we make him wear his headphones even when he doesn’t want them, and it’s instant relief for all three of us. And probably that poor lady that got whacked by the swinging wall.