I recently discovered a wonderful video about sensory processing disorder (SDP.) Processing and approaching the world, through senses that are either missing or wired differently, may be Smiling Flower’s biggest challenge. So SPD seems like a good thing to learn about. In the film a young boy with Autism explains how he ‘senses’ his senses. It is a vastly different perception to my own. His is a world in which he can never get enough bouncing done in a day, a world where the tag on his clothing really, really bothers him. I particularly love it because his explanation really helped me understand Smiling Flower. I think it often takes a child to be able to open the door into another child’s experience. Anyway, here is the Youtube video. It is about nine minutes long….
I guess we are all under responsive and over-responsive to certain things. Some people can’t bear to be tickled but others seem to quite enjoy it. Some like to incinerate their taste buds with vindaloo curry, others prefer a cheese sandwich. As the video explains, for some experiences we have a big cup – we can keep adding a particular experience but it never feels full. Smiling flower, like the boy in the video, has very little proprioceptive feedback. So if you imagine the cups and saucers that fly around at the theme parks – well her cup is like that: huge, on the move and you can fill it with as much bouncing and hanging and swinging and big big hugs as you like, but she never quite feels like she’s really felt it enough. This is a problem for her brother as she presumes he has a cup just like hers and he gets squeezed half to death and treated with a lot of ‘physical enthusiasm’! It is also difficult for Smiling Flower to make friends as not all children like this boisterous approach. The school, as ever, are being fantastic and patient and are working hard to help facilitate our friendly flower to ‘hang out’ peaceably 😮 Vision is one of Smiling Flowers little cups. She loves watching the moon and stars – maybe because they are restful. But if there is too much movement then she can quickly feel her cup has overflowed. She has a real problem with watching TV, being on the motorway or driving in rain. If the characters on TV jump about too much it makes her nervous and tearful. It seems to help her process things visually if she can predict them. In the car she gets upset if other cars come quickly and overtake from behind or if the windscreen wipers suddenly start up. Sometimes it takes a long time to figure out what has suddenly overflowed, or what she needs endless amounts of on a certain day. As ever, these insights into her life make us feel super proud of how she copes with all that life throws at her. Smiling Flower is so courageous in her approach and keen to learn about ourway of the world – as if she is starting to understand how different hers is. Today she gained her 5th reward sticker for being gentle with her brother. Five stickers = choose a treat. So we are off to the farm after school. There she will bounce on the bouncy castle for ages. She will capture any unaware lambs in a big cuddle until their eyes nearly pop out. She will also go up to other children and slap them firmly on the back or poke them too hard ‘to make friends.’ I will apologise to their parents and inwardly re-define my own labels about ‘pushy’ children who have different boundaries. Finally, I will buy (a big cup) of coffee and cake (my son and I need treats too) and I will squeeze my ‘different’ daughter tight and sign that she is amazing..