When I used to think of kids with Autism and the sensory issues they have instantly I would think that they didn’t like to be touched. While there is truth in that for some Autistic kids, Blaze is actually exactly the opposite. He is what his Occupational Therapist called a “Sensory seeker.” He walks on his toes because he likes the way the pressure feels on the balls of his feet and he likes to get bear hugs. When he colors, he breaks the crayons because he pushes so hard. He prefers crunchy foods. Every now and again, he goes through a phase where he squeals because he needs noise for his ears. He is obsessed with jumping- might I add that he is pretty darn good at it. You just may see him in the Olympics someday!!
The way that the typical person deals with all of the sensory input from our ears, nose, mouth and touch is that we take it all in and our brains sift through what is needed and what is not needed. Blaze’s brain needs practice at this, for him all of the senses are bringing input and he can’t always sort through it to make sense of it. This overwhelms him and can lead to a few reactions:
1) Complete and total silliness. He goes into his own little silly world where he just cracks up and doesn’t pay attention to anything. As I have said before, we hate to see him so overwhelmed but we count our blessings that he is happy when he is overwhelmed. I wish that was true for me
2) He shuts down his hearing. We can say his name about a billion times and still he will not react to us. This was so bad at one point that we had him go through a sedated hearing test just to make sure his ears were working right. They are
3) Or he will wander around aimlessly. He will seem “with it” but if you know him you know this is him escaping from the sensory overload.
Our job is to help manage the sensory overload. We have “calmed his room” so that when he goes to bed he will not be overloaded by toys, decorations on the walls, etc. His room is actually like a room at a spa. I love it!! When we go in public or to social events we know we have to limit our time. He needs the exposure so he can work through these issues but he doesn’t need so much that it makes him shut down completely. It is a very fine line we walk…we can’t have him shut down. When he does it impacts his ability to learn and be part of “our world.” Many times you will hear us tell him to come back to our world. Many Autistic kids get stuck in their own world and we won’t let that happen to Blaze.
Other things we can do are to put on this little vest he has that is designed to make him feel like he is getting a bear hug. It comforts and calms him. I call it his Baby Kevlar because he looks like he is on the SWAT team. Now you know if you ever see him in it.
Frequently, we see little signs from him that he is learning to manage his sensory issues but this will take time. This is wonderful and makes our day when we see it happen. This was one of the huge reasons we put him in school. He is academically on par and in many cases, ahead of his age. What he needs to work on is dealing with overwhelming ( to him) situations. Patience is a virtue, right?
Again, any of those prayers you want to send our way are most appreciated
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