As I revisited our top 10 posts on this blog from 2012, I stopped and reread a lot of them. It’s kind of like past me giving advice to current me, which is cool.
One that really caught my attention again was 5 ways to constructively deal with your kids’ mood swings. I mentioned in the introduction to that post that I don’t often mention that Sarah lives with Asperger’s, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sensory processing disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
This isn’t putting my head in the sand – we spent years “getting” those labels and, sadly, they’re not things that go away or get cured. But they are things that can be mitigated, and that’s been the essence of our homeschooling journey: Find ways to limit the things that cause a problem, and find ways to quickly nip rising problems in the bud.
I’ve read some great things recently by other bloggers on how to plan your homeschool for your special-needs student, and how to deal with holiday stress when you have a child with stress-related or stress-exacerbated challenges.
It’s hard for me to explain how hard the holidays are for us, specifically as it relates to sensory challenges. Since we returned home from the last of our Christmas celebrations, Sarah has slept 12 to 14 hours a night, and she’s STILL not back on a moderately even keel. (Excessive sleep is a major sensory-defense response.) She’s bitten her fingernails to the point that the nails are almost missing and they’re bloody and scabbed. (That’s a common OCD response to stress, which is in turn a common Asperger’s trait.)
Sleeping in other beds, sitting on other sofas, eating other foods, using different bathrooms… these are things you take for granted when you travel for the holidays. In our case, we do as much as possible of our celebration at places Sarah spends a lot of time – usually our house, but also at her Nana’s house and my best friend’s house, where she routinely goes and even stays overnight. The more familiar the place, and the closer it is to “home,” the more likely it is for Sarah to be able to process the events.
Travel happens. (Heck, we took a 2007 driving road trip looping a total of 10,000 miles across the United States, though that was before we knew all of what we do now!) But when we combine traveling, new “stuff” (like Christmas toys and clothes), colder weather (also a sensory “ick” for Sarah) and changes in routine, like getting up at different times, well… wow.
We don’t have the types of meltdowns we used to, but the signs are there if you know what to look for.
So our past few days have been as “NOTHING” as possible. We went to see the Hobbit, which Sarah was desperate to see – but we went during the New Year’s Eve overnight showing where there was no one else in the theater, save 3 quiet older teens. She slept in til 3 p.m. one day – and we were purposely quiet to avoid waking her. She hasn’t gotten dressed some days, or showered in… well, let’s not talk about that amount of time – that’s a subject for another post.
And it reminds me of this video, which I’d saved almost two months ago and wanted to share.
Please take the time to watch this – with the sound on, and as loud as you possibly can stand it and then some – and to read the accompanying NPR blog post, Mugged By Sound, Rescued by a Waitress.
This is our life when SPD overwhelms it. And I am so thankful to this video for showing everyone a glimpse at what that’s like.