Chickenscratch: My Life Up to this Point
by Jessie Miller
(Hoffman Estates, IL)
I would like to talk as someone with experience in the SID/SPD arena. When I was 2 years old I was diagnosed with SID, I am now 20 years old and for the first 9 years of my life I went to an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, neurologist, special education classes, and every other teacher and doctor under the sun. I would not be in the place that I am today (a straight A student at one of the top universities) if it hadn't been for my mother fighting for me. She was the one who fought back against the doctors who said I would be "retarded" all my life and "unable" to live a normal life, she fought for me to stay in my kindergarden class when my teacher tried to kick me out, and she fought against the doctors who wanted to put me on Ritalin. Despite this my mother worked with me everyday when I was an infant to try and help me. I was severely impaired back then and did not learn how to talk until I was 5, but it's because of my Mom that I even made it to grade school.
Looking at me now, no one ever suspects that I was so severely impaired when I was younger nor do they realize that it still affects me to this day. While I have had a lot of help over the years and have stopped many countless behaviors (not joining others in groups, running away from touch, screaming at sound), these things still affect me. I want it known that I see my SID as my superpower, in fact, that is literally what I tell people it is. With the ability to sense people decently far away from me, hear absolutely EVERYTHING, and remember exactly how things look on a page (decent photographic memory), I think SID has been one of the most positive influences in my life. It is the reason I have an amazing memory and do not struggle with remembering all terms for a psychology course for example or some random obscure thing my Professor said at one time.
Yet due to the greatness of my superpower, it also comes with some consequences...otherwise known as sensory overload. As the hypersensitive SID individual I am, I can get overstimulated sometimes. When I get overstimulated, it's a really interesting sensation...I instantly heat up and my hands become bright red and I LITERALLY cannot move until I touch something cold or hard. I have worked in many restaurants over
the years and would wonder why I would experience this situation, is it just too hot in the kitchen I wondered? It wasn't until a couple years ago that I realized it was because I was on sensory overload and needed to calm down. It is funny though because temperature indeed has a lot to do with the likelihood of me undergoing one of these meltdowns, and while I say meltdowns, it's really not that bad, it's just weird because you feel lethargic and like you can't control your body.
All of this being said I recognize the many "difficulties" I have because of SID, but I would just like to say out there to all parents, teachers, and others who know a child with SID that it is probably THE most DISCOURAGING thing ever to hear that it's because of SID. I'll give you an example, my own Mother (who I do love very much and has helped me a lot) will sometimes say things like, "You're just so honest because of your brain disorder" or "You can't hold a fork right because of SID." Although she doesn't mean it in a mean way AT ALL, it's discouraging to hear about some aspect of yourself that is because of "this" or because of "that", it's like well why can't it just be me? Why does it have to be attributed to my brain disorder? It's like if I were to go up to someone without SID and be like, "You're only smart because your Dad was smart" or "You only learned how to beat me in MarioKart because I taught you." It's kind of this undermining affect that statements like these have, where they undermine the fact that the ability or inability or accomplishment or failure comes from the person and not the disorder.
I don't want all of my "faults" to be blamed on a disorder when really, it is just who I am. Therefore, I implore all who know really anyone with any sort of "disability" or "disorder" to not use this kind of language as it can really hurt a child. I am PROUD to have Sensory Integration Dysfunction and I am PROUD to be the person I am today, whether that is because I have SID or not. So please remember that some people are PROUD of their "disability" or "disorder" because we know the truth that in reality it's our superpower, but also remember that that does not mean we want ALL aspects of our personality attributed to our supernatural ways. :)