Sometimes my daughter really amazes me. She has been in therapy for three sessions now, two of them focusing on the “How Does Your Engine Run” program. Last night, she and her Dad went to see Madagascar 3 (they loved it). Before she left, she asked if she’d have to go to bed as soon as she got home since it would be late. She is the type of child that needs warnings and does not handle transitions, changes, or disappointment with ease. I broke the news that it would be bedtime when they got back, but offered her 15 minutes to unwind first. I knew she’d be keyed up after the movie. On a related note, the OT is noticing that there are lots of activities that get her engine running high, but not too many that help her slow it down. She does love a good massage, though! At OT, the therapist had her identify the sense and name activities that would make her engine run high or low for each sense. I was so proud that she was able to do this when just last month this type of questioning would have gotten me an exasperated ‘I don’t know!” By the end of the session, my daughter was all keyed up and her engine was definitely running high. Everything the OT tried seemed to make her high. Truthfully, it made me feel a little better that even the OT was stumped on how to bring her back to “just right.” If the professional has having a hard time, then surely I could cut myself some slack and stop feeling like such a failure over my darlings meltdowns.
OK, back to the night of the movie. Hubby and darling got home a half hour earlier than I expected. She asked right away if it was bedtime, before even telling me about the movie. I told her than she actually had about a half hour before bed. She ran and jumped on the couch and flipped herself upside into a handstand with her back supported by the back of the couch. Then, she did a handstand in the corner and flipped her self over onto the floor. As she is doing this, she says very naturally ‘”Sorry mommy, I am just a little excited, you know from the movie and what you just said (that she had time before bed) so I need to do some hand stands.” Wow. A light bulb went off for me. This OT stuff is helping! She did not say, ‘Mother, I am not regulated right now and my engine is running high and I am craving vestibular and proprioceptive input, so I am going to engage in these activities to help regulate myself to a normal level.” She said it how a 6 year old would say it! It was so cool to hear her verbalize how she was feeling and relate it to what she was doing. I think I might have even heard a chorus of angels singing in the background.
She is a HUGE seeker of impact. She is always crashing around and jumping, sometimes tripping and falling, often dive bombing us, which actually hurts as she gets older and bigger. She has found countless ways in our cramped living space to turn the couch or bed into a virtual Olympic stadium of handstands and free falling flips. We often thought that she was just silly and hyper, or perhaps seeking attention, especially when this occurred around bedtime (great sleeper, but what a fight to get to bed!). It feels so good to me to understand why she acts this way and help her get what she needs. Bedtime is a hard transition for her. She has a lot of anxiety at night, particularly about bad guys and kidnappings. She is now in a phase of checking the locks regularly. I think that perhaps since bedtime is hard for her to deal with, it throws things off and she starts craving input. Even today at my parents, I went to pick her up after work and she was about the get very upset about something with her brother. She was not on “red” yet, but heading that way. I quick asked her to wheel barrel walk to the table, then I held her upside down in a handstand position (with her help of course, she is growing fast!), and poof she was back to a “green”.
I know this will not always work, and I am just playing detective and could be way off base with my theories, but right now, in this moment, it feels pretty good to think we are getting somewhere, both of us!
I know there are going to bad days. Days where no matter what she just doesn’t feel right and acts out and melts down all day and night. Days that are so hard you have to dig deep for patience and there still may not be enough. Days wear you cry secretly so know one hears, or out right sob and the whole house hears. Days you collapse into bed exhausted in a way few understand because it is both both physical and emotional and all consuming. But today, I am basking in the glory of a good day. A day where we had no meltdowns. A day where everyone was loving and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company. A day where she giggled and shined and cracked me up with her beyond her years wit and animated facial expressions. A day where things clicked and made sense in a positive way, where we could see how SPD plays out, how OT works, and how things can improve. A day where I felt it in my being that my daughter will be able to grow and flourish and manage and blossom and venture out on her own one day. She will be ok…she is ok. She is truly sensational.