As I may or may not have mentioned before, our daughter has a slight developmental delay. This delay is centered around the fact that she was premature by 8 weeks and also had a Grade IV brain bleed (serious stroke) three days after birth. Incredibly, she has overcome any initial prognoses her doctor's gave her and to most people she looks and acts like a typical two year old except for one difference---she has what we believe to be SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). I hate labeling kids, so I would rather positively state that she is a "Sensitive Child" which means she is sensitive to many things in the world around her. Her brain goes into overdrive when she hears certain sounds, has clothing on that she find uncomfortable for some reason or even when she is told "No" for any reason. She does receive Occupational Therapy to help her integrate sensory input into her world. In turn, this helps us to understand what her needs are when this happens and how we can teach her coping mechanisms to deal with them. But don't think I am saying that this is all easy because it just isn't.
The sensitivities are one thing but God obviously thinks that we can handle more to deal with as she has just started what most deem as the "terrible two's". This is the stage when your sweet, obedient child turns into something that resembles "The Incredible Hulk"... destroying things, angering easily, tantruming for an apparent reason at times and no apparent reason at others, etc. I used to love watching "The Incredible Hulk" when I was a kid. My favorite part of the whole show was usually just before David Banner turned into the Hulk as his line always was: "Don't make me angry, you won't like me when I'm angry!". I never realized that I would one day be dealing with a miniature version of this creature as a parent. We love her but sometimes, just sometimes, it is hard to like how she behaves.
So what is a first-time parent to do? Drink lots of wine? Give yourself a "time out"? This is where the real challenge lies. So far, we have continued to give her the structure she craves, ignore the tantrums, praise her efforts and remain consistent with disciplinary issues. Our daughter is enjoying the sights and sounds of the holiday season right now but two weeks from now, she may dislike the same commotion. The hardest part about this is that you can't help but think that you and your "egocentric" child will ever make it through this phase and become the independent, responsible adult that you hope to raise but I guess it does happen.
We are finding over time that our daughter is becoming more aware of the world around her and more frequently asks for what she needs to cope. This is truly a blessing because for the longest time, she was unable to verbalize what she needed which led to frustration on both our parts. Sometimes to cope, all she needs is a simple hug, other times she might enjoy being wrapped up in a blanket like a burrito, sometimes it's wearing certain clothing items that help to apply deep pressure to her joints, and finally being asked if she can go on her slide or be swung inside a blanket seems to also have a calming effect on her.
This whole area of "Sensitive Children" is not something I am very educated in despite being a Teacher. I have had students with SPD before but they were a bit older and the fact that they weren't my child made it much easier for me to deal with on a daily basis. I have been told that things will only get better as she grows older. That's reassuring to hear but I won't believe it until I actually see it happen before my eyes. Right now, we are working on accepting the fact that the sensitivities she has now may or may not follow her into the future. I guess acceptance is the first step to conquering whatever comes our way.
Until we meet again,
Cheryl and Jason