Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Little Illumination into SID

I realized something when I was thinking of what to post tonight. 

We started this blog for two reasons, one to chronicle this journey that we're on, and two to help other's who may find themselves on the same road with the wrong map like we did. This is all well and good, but so far we've forgotten one important detail. We haven't actually explained what Sensory Integration Disorder is. 

So I'm going to try to tackle that tonight. And I will put links to any pages I use for resources so that anyone looking can explore for themselves.

Sensory Integration Disorder is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within the own body.

So that's the definition, but what does it actually mean for you?

We use our senses to perceive the world around us. Back in Elementary school we all learned about our five senses; taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. Well we actually don't have five senses, we have eight. 

Visual - interpreting the surrounding environment by sight

Auditory - interpreting sounds, ability to focus on sounds and block others out

Tactile - sense of feeling, how your clothes feel, knowing there's something on your face, etc

Olfactory - identifying what things smell like in your environment

Gustatory - sense of taste, recognizing flavor, intensity, and texture

Vestibular - your sense of balance, where your body is positioned in space

Proprioception - the sense of the relative position of your body (how we can touch our nose with our eyes closed) and the strength we use in movement.

Interoceoption - an internal sense, telling you if you're hungry, feel sick, having to use the restroom

This is how we go about our daily lives, all these senses working together often without our even noticing. We don't realize that our body knows our link to gravity, unless we use an elevator and feel that small "flip". We don't notice our vestibular sense until it gets out of whack for some reason and we have that unpleasant feeling of vertigo. 

We normally experience some form of sensory interruption at points in our life. Not long lasting, not dangerous. 

For our kids, this isn't a quick interruption. This is their life. 

An apt description can be found in the book "The Challenging Child"  By Stanley Greenspan.

"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else."

Can you begin to imagine living like that? Of course our kids are going to have trouble focusing. Of course they're going to seem like they are out of control behaviorally. 

Another of my favorite explanations can be found here. Please check out this site as it has a lot of good information, but I'll give you the gist.

  • You could see obstacles in your way, but you could not make your body move the direction you wanted it to to avoid them.

  • You felt like someone had given you a shot of Novocain in your backside so you couldn't feel if you were sitting in the middle of your chair and you fell off 3 times during this training.

  • Your clothes felt like they were made of fiberglass.

  • You tried to drink a cup of water from a paper cup, only you couldn't tell how hard to squeeze it to hold onto it. So, you squeezed it too hard and the water spilled all over you. The next time you didn't squeeze it hard enough and it fell right through your hands and onto the floor.

  • Every time you tried to write with your pencil, it broke because you pushed too hard.

  • The different smells in this room made you utterly nauseous.

  • The humming of the lights sounded louder than my voice.

  • You couldn't focus your eyes on me because everything and everyone in the room catches your attention and your eyes just go there instead.

  • The lights are so bright you have to squint, then you get a pounding headache half way through the presentation

  • Every time someone touches you, it feels like they are rubbing sandpaper on your skin.

  • You could only sit here for 15 minutes and then you had to take a run around the building or do 20 jumping jacks so you could sit for another 10 minutes before your muscles felt like they were going to jump out of your skin.

  • People's whispers sounded like they were yelling.

  • The tag in the back of your shirt makes you feel as uncomfortable as you would if a spider was crawling on you and you couldn't get him off.

  • You wanted to write something down but it took you at least 5 seconds to form each letter. You can see the letter in your head, but your hand will not go in the right direction to write it.

  • This is just everyday life for a child with Sensory Integration Disorder. And when I learned about it, it was like an epiphany. A huge "That explains SO much" moment. This was important, because until then I just didn't understand my son's behavior. I couldn't understand why he could not sit still. Why he was constantly knocking things over, or bumping into people. Why he yelled or whispered inappropriately all the time. 

    I was so frustrated, why wouldn't he just pay attention! How could he not know he had dirt all over his face or hands. How could he not know he had to go to the bathroom until it was almost too late. I'd never heard of such a thing. He was just being lazy, he was just being inattentive, he just needed to knock it off and be more responsible.

    Of course, while knowing the why's did help. The how do we fix it's are still a work in progress. There is no band aid or medication to make it go away. We have a long road ahead of us and we will keep sharing our story. To give you a glimpse into living with and parenting a child with this disorder. 

    What I've written here is in no way all there is to say about SID/SPD. Please explore these sites and trust your gut, you know if something isn't right with your baby and if it's Sensory Integration, the earlier the intervention the better. 

    Quote of the Day:
    "Did you seriously just lick that?" -overheard and decided I honestly didn't want to know.

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