Wow…it’s been years…YEARS…since I’ve sat down to write. Feels good to be back. A few weeks ago my girl turned 11…I cannot believe it! I started to write when she was a preschooler. Time sure does fly!
So I found myself laying awake last night thinking about my girl and how much she has grown…Her upcoming transition to middle school…How much less I worry about her and her needs. Being a tween is amazing…one minute you are sitting on the floor playing with Barbies and the next your texting your friends and talking to your mom about the cute boy in your class. Many moms long for the days when they had babies and little ones but I feel the opposite. I love watching my girl grow up. I love our relationship and the fact that she tells me everything. I love our daytime trips to the grocery store so we can score some alone time. But I often wonder why I don’t long to keep her little. And I think it’s because that time in her life was hard…so hard. And she has overcome the most challenging parts of her life so far with strength, determination and mounds of success.
When my girl was little I often thought about the future..most often with the pit of fear in my stomach. I was always thinking her sensory needs and not knowing what life had in store for her. I was afraid things would never get better, that no one would ever understand, that she would grow anxious and depressed while the sensations of the world around her washed over her like a tidal wave. I tried as I might to hope for the best but lay awake at night expecting the worst.
So here we are, in the blink of an eye, at her final year of elementary school. A place where she started with an IEP, in an inclusive setting, because she couldn’t function without the help. Many people at this time said she would “grow out of it” and I often wondered if that were true (hoping it would be). And, as she made strides, I did subscribe to the belief that she was, in fact, growing out of it, until a symptom of that SPD would pop up and remind me that this condition was here to stay.
So what’s it like as a tween with SPD? Well it’s much different then it was when I started sharing our story. I can say most certainly that my girl has NOT grown out of her SPD, that’s for sure. She still puts things in her mouth, toe walks and cries regularly about the noise on the school bus. She will tell me she cannot wear certain clothes but instead of throwing herself on the floor she looks at me, shrugs and says, “I have sensory issues!” She is a perfectionist in all she does, still trying to maintain control of the things she can to compensate for the things she can’t. This is progress in leaps and bounds but not by some magical spell. This has been 11 years of her wrestling with her internal impulse of “fight or flight” against her environment until she came out victorious..until she could get to a point where the natural impulse of melting down has been replaced with a simple verbalization of “this is too much.” And, boy, is this more than I ever thought possible.
When we started on this journey I was hoping to create a resource of comfort and support for parents of little ones who have SPD. Now these kids have grown and I find myself a bit lost once again. So my new mission is to turn the attention to our children who are grown…who are facing new challenges like middle school and puberty and social drama…and navigating a path for them and their parents. Because what I need you to know first is, no, they will not grow out of it. SPD changes but remains. And it will impact everything they do, even when it isn’t easy to see. But it’s there..always. My girl has worked so hard to flip the switch on whether she controls her SPD or it controls her. Somedays are better than others but in this battle she has been victorious. And for once, when I look to the future, I don’t expect the worse. I know the best is yet to come!