I haven't written about my daughter's sensory processing issues for a while. I thought it would be good to jot down some observations from the past year and identify some things that have helped.
There is still a good deal I don't know about sensory processing and how the brain manages sensory input. Jessie is more of what is known as a sensory seeker which means for the most part that she needs lots of sensory activity. But certain sensory experiences are very disturbing for her, usually too much light or too much noise. She is also sensitive to the textures of fabric and food.
She completed a few months with an occupational therapist and we learned some good tools including sensory foods that helped, like carrot sticks, and some self calming work. But I will say that one of the biggest pieces of learning is my own learning not to overreact when she does have a sensory meltdown, which can happen anywhere from one to seven times a week on average. It can be very challenging.
I try my best to stay calm and offer workable choices. It can take a while to allow here to calm down enough to get to that point. I always try to start our regrouping with a hug if she will let me hold her. If I can get her laughing it moves us that much farther forward. But it sometimes feels very slow going and I may have to leave the room several times to prevent an unhelpful reaction.
I haven't really done New Year's resolutions in a while. But this year I did. I resolved to stop yelling. I am embarrased even to write that. But I have been known to raise my voice pretty significantly when I reach the end of my tether. I recently read about Matushka Olga who had multiple children and never yelled at any of them. I have prayed for her help in being a more gentle mother. I want to model for my daughter that we can state what is bothering us without resorting to loud voices.
I am enjoying Dr. Laura Markham's website, Aha Parenting as well as this fantastic book by Dr. Philip Mamalakis. Very helpful. And for an honest look at parenting kids on the spectrum within the framework of the church, you cannot do better than Maura's The Least of These.
In terms of how we "do school," it varies. Lots of hands on, lots of art, lots of outside. The rest is a blend of Montessori/Waldorf/Charlotte Mason/ Reggio. I would say we are doing a good deal of STEAM activities because they seem to combine all of the elements that appeal to her learning style right now. There are so many sites that have provided helpful activities that it would be very hard to list them all.
One blog that is incredibly helpful and encouraging from an informational standpoint is And Next Comes L. For constant STEAM encouragement, I often turn to Babble Dabble Do , Playdough to Plato, and Tinkerlab.
So our family continues to walk this road, figuring it out one day at a time. But I know that God is at work and showing us his love through the process.
It will be interesting to look at another snapshot in a few months.