I’ve spent the summer telling myself “he’ll settle in, it just takes time” and while I still believe this to be true, it is now also clear that it will take a lot of time, and a lot of help. He’s been seeing a child psychologist for the last several weeks, and I met with her recently. The nutshell is, I’m not crazy, he’s not crazy, but he has… issues. Problems with sensory integration. Emotional development deficits. It is possible these things are contributing to his rages and his shutdowns, to his violence and aggression. She – the psychologist – is still exploring possibilities. (It is amazing to me what she can extrapolate out of a sand tray.)
Anyway the sensory stuff, even though I know about it, even though I read many of you describing your children with sensory issues, even though he has sensory-induced freakouts on a regular basis… it never once occurred to me that he has sensory integration issues. Not once. Now, of course, the hindsight makes a neat little clicking noise as it all falls into place: the faucet is too loud, the fan is too loud, the socks are too bumpy, the fleece is too scratchy, the sunscreen is too gooey, the light is too bright, the car is too fast, the peanut butter is too smelly, TAKE IT OFF GET IT OFF ME MAKE IT STOP TURN IT DOWN DON’T TOUCH ME I CAN’T EAT THAT. How did I possibly miss this? He was so obvious in his distress, so unable to cope, so much in his world was and is completely unbearable to him and I wondered why he had so many tantrums?
And the emotional deficits… you guys. He can’t recognize emotion in other people. How did I miss this?? I am a feeeeelings kind of person. I always acknowledge feelings, whether they are mine, my kids’, other peoples’. I name them, I honor them in that way only a child of the 70’s can. And he… just never connected with that. Certainly I knew he couldn’t talk about his own feelings, but I assumed that was because he was having such intense and painful emotions that he was unwilling to deal with them head-on.
Right now, I’m trying to identify and reduce his triggers, the therapist will keep working with him and trying to uncover more of the pieces contributing to the picture. I don’t know what it will look like in the end. This feels like a jigsaw puzzle without the box to refer to. I’m stomach-clenchingly afraid of what it will reveal, and at the same time relieved to know we’re in good hands and there will be more and more opportunities to help him. It is agonizing to realize what a struggle each day is for him. But I am so hopeful we will learn how to work through the challenges, that one day he will be happy, and comfortable in his skin. I have to be, right?