Thursday, January 21, 2010

Self-Control, the child's perspective - Fruit of the Spirit Part 9 cont.

  • Imagine if you will, living in a world where your eyes are constantly assaulted by light that seems to scorch your retinas, or where everything is dim and hazy making it hard to navigate around objects or focus on small objects.
  • Consider loud, unexpected noises that send your heart racing and make your flight instinct take over every rational thought. Conversely what if all sounds were muffled, staticky, warped so that words jumble together into nonsense.
  • What if around every corner there is a smell that turns your stomach?
  • What if every bite of food tasted the same and you didn't like the taste? How about if your food is always too hot, or the flavors were so overwhelming that you couldn't swallow.
  • How about every piece of clothing feels like sandpaper or a sunburn, and no one understands that if they sit so close to you it makes your skin crawl.
  • Can you picture being dizzy just from walking across the room? What if reaching up to scratch your ear you found your finger in your eye instead?
Under those circumstances (or even just a couple of them) how long would you keep your cool? Would you be able to maintain eye contact and appropriate verbal communication with people around you? Would you be able to sit still for long periods of time listening to sounds that aren't comfortable much less making sense to you? Would you be able to refrain from pushing away the person who rubbed against you as they sat down next to you? Would you want to pick up a pencil, sit quietly and write letters just because someone asked you to?

I am attempting to describe (from my own limited understanding) what individuals with sensory processing disorder may experience. It may take a different form than what I've sketched out above, but sensory processing disorder involves a miscommunication between the sensing organs (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin) and the brain. Although the ears may function normally, somewhere between the eardrum and the brain the signals get scrambled, misinterpreted, and therefore responded to in unexpected ways. Besides the five senses you commonly think of (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) there are two "gravitational" senses related to the position of one's body in three-dimensional space (vestibular), and the relative positions of various body parts to one another (proprioception). Some people "hyper"-sense in one or more areas -- meaning that they hear things louder or that smells are stronger than they would be for a typical person. Others are "hypo"-sensitive, so it takes more swinging, spinning, or jumping to give them a sensation of exhilaration. This is one of the first "disorders" that we were told was affecting our daughter, but I still don't have a good grasp of exactly what her world is like.

What I do know is that her self-control on an absolute scale must be orders of magnitude beyond mine. Just a little too much noise or commotion and I will more than likely lose my temper. We know that everyday sounds and conversations are challenging for our daughter, but most days all day long she copes with this maelstrom of sound without collapsing into fits. Just a few minutes of vertigo when I'm fighting off a virus makes me want to crawl back in bed and stay there. Our daughter has odd sensations of gravity often but doesn't let it stop her from wanting to ride a bike, master a scooter, or take up roller skating.

When I remember how much she has to overcome and conquer all day, every day, I am both astounded at her willpower, and humbled by my own lack of discipline.

1 comment:

Hartley said...


I just stumbled onto your blog today and thought I would say hi!

My son has Sensory Processing Disorder too, and the one thing I felt was the most beneficial to learn and share with others is that there are SEVEN senses. Most people forget that in addition to sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell there is also Vestibular and Proprioception.

You are right that our kids have a "sensory assault" of sorts every day, and often react inappropriately to what their sesens are telling them--a virtual "traffic jam" of information in the brain.

I look forward to learning more about your family!

Thanks for sharing,


Related Posts with Thumbnails