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At the time I cared what other people thought of my parenting, and I was mortified that my child was the only one screaming during what should have been a fun couple of hours. Soon it was time to eat a snack of half-moon cookies. I remember that Boo had calmed down, but was still visibly upset. As she sat in the chair at the table she began sobbing looking at her cookie then looking up at me. Looking back at her cookie she reached towards it ever so slowly, the closer she got the harder she cried. It took me only seconds to realize she did not want to touch it. The feel of the frosting on her fingers was more than she could bare. There I was again, caring what other parents thought of me and my child, feeling embarrassed that my child was the only child using a fork to eat her cookie.
Finally it was time to go outside. The minute we stepped out of the house a switch flipped inside Boo. She was happy again, calm, and content to play in the yard.
In the midst of all the chaos one of those well meaning moms asked, "Has she been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome?". I will never forget how that one question made me hate that mom. How dare she even suggest something be wrong with my precious daughter. What the hell did she know! I remember telling her she did not have Asperger's (even though I didn't know much about AS I knew Boo did not have it). I remember complaining to my close friends how other moms never know when to mind their own business. I never admitted that deep down inside I knew something was up with Boo. That incident was the beginning of what would later be diagnosed as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
That birthday party was an overstimulation of senses that Boo could not process all at once. In the noise department we had several adults talking at once, along with several children yelling & playing. In the visual department we had pretty packages of all different sizes and shapes, balloons in many colors floating around, and a diversity of people's faces in close proximity. In the taste & smell department we had sticky frosting, sweet cookies, fruit juices, and an array of other foods. ALL! AT! ONCE! Still don't know how that feels to a child with SPD? Try this little experiment:
Go into a room, light some scented candles. Turn the tv & radio up loud, turn on all of the lights, call in your family and ask them to talk to you. Get the dog barking, call up your best friend on the phone, grab some colorful scarves and dance to the radio. ALL! AT! ONCE!
Now shut it all off. You can breathe again. That was the switch that flipped when we took Boo from the party to the outside.
Years later I no longer care what other people think of my parenting, my children's behavior, or even their misbehavior. Years later I wish I could go back to that "Well Meaning Mom" and give her a hug and a thank you. She got us thinking, she made us realize that we had something to research, she had us questioning Boo's behavior. She was not rude or imposing. She truly was one of those well meaning moms.
I learned that I could trust other moms, trust my gut, and listen to my child. After all, I too am "One of those well meaning moms".
If you think your child might have Sensory Processing Disorder or want to learn more about children with SPD check out The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz .