This is my series on parenting a child with a higher set of needs than his peers. Our beautiful boy, has a diagnosis of sensory processing disorder, mainly auditory, with some emotional/behavioural issues. We don’t know if this is because of the earlier ear/infection/hearing issues he had, or if he will “grow out of” his issues. What we do know is that we mostly look “normal” as a family, but there are things we do, or deal with as parents that other parents might not. It can be hard, to explain that we do “x, because of our son” or “that doesn’t work for us, he can’t cope or manage” .
People can be very quick to misunderstand, judge or try to offer helpful advice, that may not be what we need or want (that’s typical of all parenting, I do know that, too) but sometimes it gets hard to have to explain or justify how we parent or the things we choose to do.
What you see, and what you don’t see…
Actually, in this week’s post, I am asking for some input and advice. I would love to hear what other parents of a child with similar issues to Matthew, do or help themselves to cope.
What you see: A child that occasionally makes some weird noises, when in an unfamiliar, situation or place.
What you don’t see: A parent struggling to cope with the intensity of those noises and wondering how to manage?
Matthew, has a couple of habits, as a child with sensory issues, that are part of who he is, and having done a lot of reading and had some input from his occupational therapist, I understand why he does them, but frankly, sometimes, they annoy and irritate me. I generally am fairly patient, and I try to keep my cool with him, because I know that he either can’t control or help it, but sometimes it grates on my nerves so much, it’s challenging for me.
Matthew will make noises, high pitched ones, that cause vibrations in his mouth, and lips. He likes it, it’s a sensation he finds comforting and stimulating, and he will make the noises when excited, or when he is struggling to cope. Most of the time, I know why he is making the noises, but when it is persistent, or constant, or I can’t identify why, it gets irittating for me. I try to get down to his level, and make eye contact, sit with him, or have him sit on my lap if he wants to, and we will talk about what is going on, and why he is making his “funny voice” as he calls it and if he wants to talk through and be reassured then we go through some steps to help him.
But, sometimes, he just does it, because he likes it, and times like this, which usually clash with me being tired, or trying to work, or concentrate on something, and it’s hard for me to be patient. There seems to be no logical reason for the noises, he isn’t unhappy, in an unfamiliar environment, in a noisy place, and I usually can’t find a trigger for it. He will tell me “I just like making the noise, it feels nice”.
I have tried talking to him about how I know he likes making the noises, and that’s fine, but that sometimes the noise is hard for other people to manage and that if he wants to make the noise, he can go to his room, in his own space. However, if we are in the car, that’s tricky, and often he will persist with the noises and funny sounds. I will try distracting him, or offering him things to occupy him to try and ease the noise making, and sometimes that works, but a lot of the time, I feel ready to climb the walls. He also likes to make objects make noises, so if he finds something that he can bang rhythmically he will. I know this is called “stimming” and is a self-stimulatory behavior, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects. I know it’s a normal part of the issues a child with sensory issues but sometimes I really struggle to cope with it.
In many ways, I am still getting used to what SPD means and how things work for my small boy. I would love to hear from parents or those who work with children on how to handle this issue and help him and myself. The Occupational Therapist we see hasn’t really given me any suggestions other than “it will get less, and you need to just be patient, and see if you can distract him or talk to him when he is making the noises” so that’s not been terribly useful for me.
So, if you have some thoughts or suggestions or helpful comments I would love to hear them.