Like so many children with Autism, my Boy suffers from sensory issues. He is bothered by sounds, lights and certain textures. Some of you may have heard of the term Sensory Processing Disorder. This is a disorder where the brain has a problem receiving and responding to stimulus in the environment. We typically think of 5 senses that we receive sensory input from – but there are actually 7!
We are all familiar with the basic 5… You know – touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing. Here is the best write-up I have ever seen explaining the other 2!!
From SPD Australia “Another important dimension of the central nervous system is the vestibular system. This system involves the body’s sense of movement and gravity or the relationship between one’s own body and the earth, i.e., what way is up, down, left, right, horizontal, vertical, etc., and where is the body in relationship to other objects such as a ball, the sidewalk, or stairs. This system also tells the body whether or not it is moving, how fast it is moving and in what direction it is moving.
The vestibular system is responsible for the development of eye movements to track objects (words on page, a ball in the air); movement of body parts in unison; bilateral coordination (the ability to use both sides of the body for activities such as hopping, jumping, catching); and development of right or left handedness.”
SO what exactly does that mean? That means that cutting my Boy’s hair last night was the most physical activity I have ever engaged in!! Hubby tried to hold him while sitting in a chair and I had to hold his head steady with one hand while cutting with the clippers in the other. It took us about 15 minutes, but it felt like hours. I’m sure that the poor kid felt like it took an eternity as well. He would try so very hard, but then the stimulus would be too much for him and he would have to pull away.
Then he had to get in the shower – another sensory nightmare for him. He stood in the shower screaming while we washed the millions of little hairs off of him. And then the toweling off at the end is dramatic for him too. He doesn’t mind the towel drying arms and legs, but the sensation of it on his trunk area is too much and he will resume the screaming again. Thankfully, my teen had the diffuser running with The Boy’s favorite after shower blend – Valor II. So he could run to his favorite spot in the living room, play on his favorite game and smell his favorite scent while I assembled his favorite snack.