We recently figured out that Mollusc, my eldest, has Sensory Processing Disorder. Despite the title of this post, she's not like Faulkner's Benjy - quite the opposite, in fact. I'm used to looking for quirks and disorders in special needs kids, since I work with quite a few of them in Choi Kwang Do, but I never thought to look for them in my hyper-intelligent daughter. When I finally put it all together, I felt a bit idiotic for not realising something sooner, but to be honest, I just attributed a lot of her symptoms to individual eccentricities.
Here's how it breaks down for Mollusc.
- She hates to be touched. For a long time I thought her reaction to being touched was just an overdramaticized response - sort of a trademark silliness. Nope. It just feels extremely unpleasant, and should not be attempted. (I'll spare you the post on "How Have I Ruined My Children's Lives? A Mother's Angst.")
- Misophonia She has always, ALWAYS hated whistling. No, that's not true; hated is much too mild a word for this. It was so bad that she turned into a bundle of nerves every Tuesday, all day, last semester, because she knew she had class that evening with "Whistling Guy." She wanted to physically harm him so he would shut up.
- Extreme difficulty waking up and getting up in the morning. This is the one that broke my heart to see. Every morning it was a huge effort for her to drag herself out of bed and downstairs in time to maybe put a little food in and go to work. She would be very subdued and I had serious concerns that she was depressive, but without fail, when I picked her up at the end of her daily shift, she would always be fine. As it turns out, this is not uncommon for SPD sufferers. It's not laziness, or wilfulness, or lack of sleep; it's just that they need to "come to life" more slowly in the mornings. In Mollusc's case, she would spend the first 2 hours of every day feeling awful, and then her body would wake up and all would be well.
-Social Anxiety. Maybe I should have put that in all caps. For Mollusc, it's the fear of doing something or saying something awkward that makes other people judge her to be unintelligent. My mom had a lot of issues with this, herself. And no, this is not the result of homeschooling. I have 3 others who are not socially anxious at all.
-General Anxiety. Any family member whose whereabouts are uncertain could be in Mortal Danger. Things could Go Wrong. Dreadfully so.
Hope for the Wicked and Rest for the Weary
We're still learning about SPD and Anxiety and all the other goodies that are, as James Lileks might put it, "rolled up in lettuce, wrapped in cheese, and hidden in a cave of bread studded with all kinds of weird shit." But we have found some amazing life hacks so far.
1) For the trouble waking up: the Sound Oasis Natural Wake-Up and Sleep System Alarm Clock. This has made an Incredible difference in Mollusc's quality of life. Seriously. This is me, weeping tears of joy. I cannot overstate how amazing this is. She wakes up refreshed and in time to eat breakfast, and no longer appears to be undead when I drop her off at work. The deal with this thing is that it wakes you up gradually with gentle light and sound. I want to give the inventor a BIG HUG! Unless s/he has SPD and hates to be touched. :-/
2) For the Misophonia: Etymotic Research Earplugs I whistle tested her and did NOT get punched in the face! ^_^ This made a huge difference for her last few classes with "Whistling Guy." (Hence the "hope for the wicked, because otherwise he was going DOWN!) Hurrah!
3) For the anxiety: I'd consider acupuncture, because #2 has had success with this for her (less extreme) anxiety. (We actually started the treatment for her stomach issues, and it's helped a great deal, but she asked for help with anxiety as well, and has found the treatments very beneficial.) But with Mollusc's SPD, I don't think anyone would live through the experience.
Fortunately, my mom told me about some books for anxiety that she found very helpful for herself, so we're getting those from the library, and I found some others to share as well.
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook
The Tapping Solution
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
And for those whose kids are still children (though I think I'm still going to read it myself)
The Out-of-Sync Child.
I hope some people will find this helpful. I'd love to hear from you!