Parenting a Child with Special Needs
Dear Ms. Aldort, My son, 4 years old, has Sensory Processing Disorder. He is receiving treatment, and and improving well. I am a big fan of your book but find in some ways his areas of delay challenging in finding the balance between leadership, and my son self regulating. For instance, often when validating his feelings, he finds himself in a loop of distressing emotions, described by his therapist as very similar to OCD, where he cannot come out of it to problem solve or resolve the conflict and his "loop" can go on indefinitely until he distracts himself with a different topic, but may revisit the initial upset because his "problem" is unresolved. The good news is that he has just begun to recognize that he does not want to stay in his upset feelings forever, and has even started to express that he is "stuck" and can't get out. However, even some gentle guidance to help him problem solve as he learns this skill are usually not helpful. In addition, his self-regulatory skills are delayed as his nervous system often cannot actually recognize signals like hungry, tired, etc. and he is not quite neurologically ready to learn from repeated experiences, for instance, felt funny, ate, felt better, or had fun several times with a new experience (usually in his treatment) might enjoy it again. This presents an unusual challenge in respecting the 4 year old child, yet meeting his needs that he is as yet unable to recognize. Do you have any suggestions for working with children who struggle with the very skills you advocate we allow them to learn? Thank you in advance, Suzanne
Your question is long and involved. It deserves a full phone session or a few. I would need to ask you more questions, find out what kind of therapy he receives, and what his daily life is like. Much of what you describe is completely normal.
I stay away from labels and get to know the child’s unique direction. For your son this may mean that at age four you care for him the way another child is cared for at two or three. In a session I can learn more about him and assist you in finding the best ways to respond to the way he is. I may also adjust his diet and other daily habits if needed. Your child is learning about himself, only at a different timetable than someone else.
I have helped many parents with children whose awareness of their bodies and senses develop at different times and ways. If you wish to sign up for a session you can do so on my site on the Parenting Guidance page: http://naomialdort.com/guidance.html Meanwhile do your best to question your expectations and to find answers by observing your child and responding to his unique signals and needs. He is self-directing already, only not in the way you expect.
Warmly, Naomi Aldort, www.AuthenticParent.com