When I was a kid, I made my mother’s life a living hell. I swear, looking back I really do not know how she did it. I must have screwed up every single morning of my first three school years. She would get me dressed, I would rip my clothes off. Nothing felt right on my skin, my underpants had to rise above my belly button, I absolutely abhorred the button down uniform shirts, even my shoes felt wrong. There were other times when I would find a shirt and want to wear it exclusively. It was usually a texture that I found comforting. Back then, there was no spectrum, the doctors did not know what the heck was wrong with me. Was I stubborn, was it a milk allergy, was I crazy?
I firmly believe that if I were a child today, I would be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD.) The fact that my oldest son was diagnosed at age three makes me certain. As as adult, I am no different. I never outgrew the unbearable, claustrophobic, skin crawling sensations that plagued me as a child. …continue reading
Asperger’s Syndrome is a mild form of autism, and in my daughter’s case is accompanied by a host of sensory issues. People with the disorder look typical. They have normal or even flowery vocabularies and speech patterns. They may say things in an interesting or different way, but they say them. This is different from those with moderate to severe autism, who often have minimal vocabularies or are completely non-verbal, staying lost in their own world to escape one that is constantly overwhelming. I’m thankful my daughter’s autism is mild. I am. I’m thankful from the top of my head to the tips of my toes that she can stay in this world most of the time. I feel it, the thankfulness, pulsating in me when I see her speak to other children or run outside to swing or play tag. I breathe a deep sigh of relief when there is a sudden noise, and she is finally able to take it in stride. A warmth washes over me when she says she loves me more than anything, knowing it’s the absolute truth because Aspies don’t generally use hyperbole. Months of therapy and years of interventions have given us this typical-looking child. I don’t take her simple, everyday accomplishments for granted.
But her autism doesn’t feel mild when she is rocking back and forth or staring at the wall. It doesn’t feel mild when she runs her finger along an imaginary line over and over again. It doesn’t feel mild when, after 6 years of trying, she still can’t go take a shower without feeling overwhelmed from the water touching her face. It doesn’t feel mild when she picks the skin off her arms or has a panic attack when attempting to taste a drink that isn’t water. It feels anything but typical when she says she is going to her “squeezy area”, which means she is going to wedge herself between her bed frame and the wall because it feels like a hug from me. …continue reading