Also known as sensory integration disorder, sensory processing disorder, sensory intergrative dysfunction, sensory modulation disorder, or even dysfunction of sensory integration. I'll just call it SI dysfunction. This is what J is dealing with. Well I should say what the Johnson family is dealing with. Today was his first session with the speech-language therapist and I completed a sensory profile and was not surprised when his score showed that he was indeed experiencing some sensory issues, mainly proprioceptive and emotional. When I looked over the list I almost laughed b/c most (if not all) of the things listed were honestly normal toddler behavior, but the list also asked about developmental milestones, emotional reactions, and how everyday life is affected. J exhibits several sensory seeking behaviors such as stomping feet when walking, jumps or hops instead of walking, excessive banging of objects, loves rough play, frequently falls on floor intentionally, chews on shirts sleeves, and the main one that we've been dealing with and worried about...head banging and intentionally hurting himself. He also shows several emotional issues related to the dysfunction such as getting easily frustrated, often impulsive, functions best in small groups or individually, variable and quickly changing moods, prefers to play on the outside of a group just observing, and has difficulty making needs known amongst other things. It all goes hand in hand with the fact that J is not speaking, not eating, and does not cope well at all in loud and crowded places. It all makes sense to me now. We have more paperwork to fill out and hopefully soon an OT will be added to Jayden's weekly therapy sessions. We've decided to let his speech therapy take the place of his Monday morning storytime since he was not enjoying the crowded room much, and we may thr to go for the afternoon storytime to see if it's less crowded.
Now this all brings me back to something that has always been in the back of my mind since we filled out our intial adoption paperwork back in July 2006. We filled out an application for domestic infant adoption, which is simply adoption of an infant within the states. On the application was a section about special needs. The section asked if we would be willing to adopt a child with special needs and if so, to what degree would we accept. Alot went through our minds as we thought about that section. First of all, as first time parents, honestly, to what degree could we handle a special needs child? Are there any cases that we could handle more than others? We read and read and in the end we decided that as first time parents, we'd rather not adopt a special needs child. It's best to be honest with yourself no matter how bad you want to be parents, and we had been trying for over 2 yrs at that point. However, even after we turned in our application, that particular section stuck in my mind. Not all disabilities will present themselves at birth. Of course there are some that are obvious at birth such as downs syndrome, but there are several that won't present themselves at birth and will be found later on in life and can severely disable a child. I've always wondered, would an adoptive parent be devastated if they did not actually get the "healthy" or "normal" child they'd asked for? Would they in turn despise the child for not being perfect or "exactly what I'd hoped for"? Seriously, I've thought these things even before J was placed with us. Now I know the answer... J is not disabled by any means, but now we know that he does indeed have special needs and that we are being faced with an obstacle that we never expected. One that we were not prepared for. So what do we do?? I know what we do, we will love him b/c he is our son! We will continue to be his advocate and get him the help he needs to live a well rounded life and to be happy. We will work with the therapists to get him ready for school with as little stress as possible. We will follow his cues and make whatever sacrifices are necessary to keep him happy. We will do all of this b/c he is our son and we love him, no matter what special needs he has. So I can certainly understand the reasoning for that particular section on the adoption application, but we should always remember that God is in control and God has the PERFECT child for us and He knows what He is doing when He makes a family.
So right now, I'm reading the book "Raising the Sensory Smart Child" by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske. Nancy is the mother of a child with SI dysfunction and Lindsey is the OT that helped them to get through it. I'm only in chapter 2, but it has already helped me to better understand the dysfunction and to understand why J reacts to certain things the way that he does. I'm learning ways to help him to cope and I'm also finding that I have more patience with him, although I know I can always use 10 times more. It's certainly rough for us and although sometimes I just need a break from him, I couldn't imagine my life without him. Your prayers are welcome :)
Tonight is kid's night out at the park so we are going to dress J up in his Teddy Bear costume and let him have some safe fun. We'll only stay as long as he can tolerate it and then we'll head home. Here's his costume... I may even enter him in the costume contest!