Things with Mr. Monkey have been interesting for awhile now. I've thought something was up since he was less than a year old. The doctor kept telling me no he's fine, he's just really advanced and his tantrums were due to the fact that he's learning two languages. I knew in my heart it wasn't anything serious, but I also knew his tantrums and other behaviors weren't quite right. And I knew it wasn't "bad" parenting (thanks Echo and Chrissi and countless other for reassuring me I'm a good parent!) or a spoiled kid or any of those things. So I made a phone call. I was exhausted and stressed wondering how I could help Monkey so he didn't have tantrums that looked like he was truly helpless and couldn't control himself. I mean, sure, he has normal toddler tantrums because we tell him no or he can't do what he wants at that moment but these were more and had no clear triggers. He had an evaluation a few weeks ago, and we learned yep he's one smart kid (too smart for his own good at times but that makes life around here fun!). We also found out he has some sensory issues and emotional/social issues. But he's got some great people coming to help and we have some great strategies we are starting to put in place and already notice a difference.
SPD (sensory processing disorder) is a tricky thing, and there are people who say it isn't a "real" diagnosis. Sure many kids with SPD are on the autism spectrum, but just as many aren't. And some have other issues as well. Monkey just is a kid who loves sensory stuff. He loves chewing things (ask my sister as she reminds him yet again her leather bracelets are not for chewing) and ripping paper using his teeth. I guess in a way its good because even though he puts almost everything in his mouth, we have yet to see him actually eat anything that isn't food. He puts it in and then once he feels it, out it comes (usually with him saying "gross"). Until you've seen one of his tantrums, you haven't seen a tantrum. Although, if you have a child with this, then you have my sympathies. It is one of the most trying things I've experienced. I have learned that raising my voice in the middle of a tantrum doesn't work, walking away doesn't work, moving him to another room doesn't work, distracting rarely works. What does? Trying to catch it before he starts. Finding a way for him to spin in a chair, in a circle, wrap up in a blanket, go to a quiet room, jump up and down or chew on something before he blows up stop it right away. Taking a good nap stops a lot of the meltdowns. Days he doesn't take a nap at the right time or for long enough (like yesterday) result in sometimes an hour or more of screaming and sobbing and gnashing of teeth. I see him take in everything I try with him. And he is trying to do it himself without my help. In the best way his little 21 month old mind can. He runs up to his room and I'm clueless except for the fact that maybe he's frustrated with Miss Monkey crying. I follow him and he's in the dark with his sound machine on, under his big stuffed dog. He tells me to go and he comes back downstairs a few minutes later much calmer. He starts to bite someone or something he shouldn't and he looks to me for a piece of paper or something he can chew on (still working on that one! I need to find chew beads or chew toys or something). He gets excited about playing with his sister and his hand moves too hard and she cries. He starts to cry and shout "sorry" before I can even remind him and he's hugging her trying to fix something he didn't mean to do. He's learning about his body and control of it. And it's our job to help. So he can feel safe in this crazy world. This was a crazy post for sure.
I've been going crazy looking up everything I can about SPD and sharing with others. Because the best way for Monkey to get help is for everyone he loves to know what's going on and understand it. Because I know there are other kids out there who need a mom, a dad, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, a friend to have this information. Because I'm a teacher, always a teacher, and I want to teach others. Because I know it will help my students when I see one of them need a break or struggling. Because I want Monkey to have teachers who care and want to help him not force him into a box.
And that's my crazy rant for today!
Carmen is sleeping and I should be too before she gets hungry again! Next post will be much sooner. In the meantime, pictures!
This is what Monkey has started to do when daddy leaves for work. He says bye and then will climb on the couch and ask for Carmen to sit on his lap and watch a show.
Monkey playing with Carmen. He stands over her and tries to get her to grab his hair or tickle him. She looks rather confused by it all but then laughs.
This was naptime today. Usually Monkey is in his room but he came down halfway through his nap and fell back asleep. So we had a nap party in the living room!