Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘sensory processing

Wordless Wednesday 25 May 11

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Sensory Avoider becomes Sensory Seeker

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Life’s a blur

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Yes, I deliberately chose this photo

I made Pudding a dress this weekend. Yes, truly I am a domestic goddess. She of course wanted to wear it the instant it was finished, and I of course had to take a photograph of her in it. This is one of the hundreds, thousands even of photos I’ve taken of her that usually get instantly scrapped. Because unless you’re prepared for it, and have a tripod, and a decent flash, it is almost impossible to get a picture of her without the blur. She is in perpetual motion, almost never still. Our bundle of kinetic energy.

It has often been said that people with Asperger’s are emotionless automatons. It may be true that some individuals find it harder to express their feelings, the way they feel is not easily visible in their facial expressions. Then there are others on the spectrum, such as Pudding, who simply cannot contain how they feel. When she is happy or excited, she is champagne froth fizzing everywhere, and just as intoxicating. She bounces, she flaps, she runs around. You can see it. Of course, when she is angry or scared, you can see that too, much as you might not want to.  She feels everything with every one of her senses.

Then there are times when she just can’t be still. I call those mealtimes. She is in and out of her chair, under the table, onto the couch, galloping around and around. There are days when I question her calorific intake. She can’t possibly take in more than she expends. And yet, she continues to grow. Even when the food is something she really enjoys, and she tries to sit down for it, she can’t do it. She will fall out of the chair, at least once a day. Have you ever fallen out of a chair? Not while leaning back, but when all four feet are on the ground? It is almost impossible to do. Mealtimes are like watching a slapstick comedy. This is not deliberate though, and it stopped being funny a long time ago. This is a faulty proprioceptive sense. It is just one of the many (way more than five, whoever taught me that!) senses that are a little off in our girl.

Proprioception is how the nervous system maps out where the body is in space, and controls the use of limbs. For most of us fortunate souls, this works so automatically that we don’t know it is at work. I don’t have to look down at my fingers to know they are on the keyboard (I just have to look down because I can’t touch-type). I know I’m sitting on a chair because I can feel it. Pudding’s brain doesn’t get the feedback from her body that it needs, which leads to both fine and gross motor skills problems. It is one of the reasons why we need to see an occupational therapist. If you can’t figure out what your fingers are doing, you’ll find it impossible to hold a pen correctly, and then you’ll struggle to learn how to write. On a side note: what is the occupation of a 3 year-old? Playing. Yes, it is weird that play requires therapy, but after a while on our world, the weird makes sense. It is the normal that we question these days.

Pudding craves this sense in a way that is impossible for me to understand. I’ve read several books on sensory processing dysfunction, and talked to her occupational therapists, but I just might never get it. I imagine it as the feeling that an astronaut in space for a considerable amount of time might get just missing gravity. We know that deep pressure feels good to her. She likes sitting in her bean bag chair, and hates the smoothness of our dining table chairs.

Yesterday I finally got around to ordering a special seat pad, which provides tactile feedback that just might help her stay in the chair throughout an entire meal…

…And long enough for me to take a better picture, of course.