A few things I never thought I’d say:
“James, don’t bite your arm.”
“James, don’t drag your head across the floor.”
and my favorite, “James, don’t lick the tree, (short pause) or the telephone pole!”
Our latest challenge continues to be addressing James’ sensory needs. He has a variety of them, and they seem to be affecting several areas of his development. With so many different opinions on the topic, and such a multitude of activities to choose from, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out just what to focus on. So thankful to have the guidance of someone I trust as we explore some options and find what works for James.
It’s not surprising at all that he has some different sensory needs than a typical two-year old. Some of it he comes by naturally. I have a few texture issues of my own to deal with, sorry buddy. And some of it comes from spending more than five months in the NICU. Four of those months should have been spent in a dark, quiet, gentle, floaty uterus. Instead of that peaceful place, he was in an isolette, exposed to loud sounds, lights, and pain. An experience like that is bound to have at least a few lasting effects.
James is the definition of a body in motion. There is no walking, he runs everywhere. He constantly moves and wiggles, even when trying to sit and watch Mickey Mouse. His arms and legs never stop. I understand that two-year olds are busy and always doing something, but this is a different kind of busy. It’s almost like he’s uncomfortable in his skin and can’t figure out what to do about it. No wonder he has so many delays. I can’t imagine trying to concentrate on learning activities when you feel the constant need to move. I know how annoying it is for me just to have a twitch in my leg, and this is so much more than that.
Then there’s the mouth. Everything goes straight to it lately. Well, everything except food. He licks floors, feet, windows, his swing set, furniture, toys, and yes, trees, and what he doesn’t lick he chews. I think he truly craves the feeling of all those sensations and textures in his mouth. Our job is to find a way for him to meet those needs in a more appropriate, socially acceptable manner. Hopefully we can find a few tricks that work before he starts preschool in August. I’m sure he won’t shock his teachers, they’ve probably seen it all, but I would really like to have a few tools they can use when he starts licking the walls or the rug, or another student. Just the thought makes me cringe.
And we can’t forget his feeding issues. Not sure if they’re sensory or medical or some combination of the two, but our hope is that by addressing some of his sensory needs we’ll see an improvement in feeding as well.
As always, I’m working at keeping it all in perspective. I was reminded over the weekend that he has some really good skills that can be built upon and expanded, and that it’s not fair to compare him to others. Not fair to him or myself because it sets us both up for failure. James is doing fantastic! A glance through some of his NICU photos tells me that pretty quickly. He has come a LONG way and I’m so proud of him. He’s perfect exactly the way he is. Like I’ve said when I wrote about his sensory issues before, I don’t want to change his personality or his little quirks, I love those things about James. I just want the world to be a little easier for him to navigate, and I’ll do whatever I can to facilitate that. We have lots of strategies to try over the next few weeks, then we’ll regroup and see where we are. Maybe you’ve been where we are. What tips can you share that worked for you? And if you’re just starting a similar journey, you’re not alone. We can learn from one another as we go.