I’ve had a bit of an epiphany. It was like looking at a cell in a microscope, if you were a biology major in college like I was. You start with the image very out of focus, but as you begin to fiddle with the coarse adjustment, the image comes into focus, but it’s still not clear. So, you adjust the fine adjustment until you see the details. All of this and you see an image that did not exist before your eyes just moments before.
Like the microscope it came into focus slowly over time, then the image appeared in increasing clarity, until I realized that the person I was looking at was indeed myself.
I have a sensory kiddo, but I just might be a sensory mama, too.
Some of Jack’s quirks are definitely like my own. To this day, I cannot eat yogurt with fruit on the bottom, or any chunks for that matter, without dry heaving. The same goes for getting food, or paint, or anything on my hands. If I get one loose hair on my skin, I go berserk. It simply bothers me, but at least I have the ability to communicate my discomfort with words. I can only imagine the frustration that he faces daily.
Now, I definitely am not Jack’s sensory clone by any means. He can spin for seemingly hours, whereas I will be gagging in seconds. In fact, I am legendary in my family for my motion sickness. Trust me, you don’t want to sit next to me on a 2-hour flight. Ditto for a 10-hour road trip.
I’ve also never been much for physical contact. I’m one of those people who backs away from hugs. I simply cringe at the thought; they give me the sensation of pins and needles. I’m definitely a “personal space” kind of gal. So, when I look at my boy with a deer-in-the-headlights look every time he gets ambushed in a hug by another kid, I think to myself, I feel you, kid. Really, I do.
For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a runner. If not for my approximately 3 mile runs 3 days a week and a long run on Saturdays or Sundays, I probably would not be able to focus. Running simply gives me a clarity that nothing else can. I was telling a Floortime mama friend of mine about my running routine in an attempt to recruit a running companion. Running gives me a little “high” of sorts. I feel like I could conquer the world after a run. I feel like everything is happy and possible. I guess if I was a hand-flapper like Jack, I might be flapping after a run.
As I was describing how good running makes me feel, she laughed and said, “Well, of course you feel good! You are doing 40 minutes of joint compression on yourself several times a week! You’re compressing yourself into sensory heaven!”
Seriously?!? Am I blasting my joints on the pavement in a subconscious effort to organize my sensory system? So, I decided to go to the source of all things sensory in our house – Jack’s OT. I asked if running was like doing joint compression. She said it was.
Maybe it’s a good thing. After all, whatever helps us get through life, right? Running is a socially-appropriate activity. That is the goal for us with all of our kids after all, to give them some means of coping with the sensory bombardment that is our world in a manner that doesn’t impede their daily lives.
Huh…so, maybe I’m a bit of a grown-up sensory kiddo at times, too?
I’m convinced that I’m not alone in this. Many parents I talk to with kids on the spectrum, or sensory kiddos, report that their kids’ quirks are, at times, their own. After all, if our kids are different neurologically, it might make sense that some of us are a bit different neurologically, too. Not that we’d get diagnoses of our own, but that there might be a neurological reason to some of the things that make us tick.
Maybe, just maybe, we can start to understand ourselves better through our children. Seeing the world through their eyes at times can help us be better parents. If you just happen to walk the actual walk with your own sensory issues, you have a particularly keen insight on what your child might experience daily.
In a way, it’s liberating to know that there might a reason for some of my quirks other than just being a little weird. After all, I remember being chastised for not wanting to eat certain foods because of their texture. At least I could keep them down (usually) when forced. Poor Jack can’t do that, but he’s not weird. He’s just different.
If I have Jack as company on this path a little less than typical, then I’ll consider myself lucky for having such a wonderful and adorable traveling companion. I also have Jack to thank for a bit of insight into myself and an understanding as to why I am the unique person that I am.
Are there times when you see yourself in your child? What sensory issues do you find yourself facing?