by Jodie Connors
(Perth, Western Australia)
Jarrad at approx 4 months of age
I feel like the worst mother in history at the moment - after discovering my beautiful 4 year old boy has SPD just yesterday I am realizing all the terrible mistakes I have made over the period of his life when trying to cope with Jarrad's problems. All the times I felt that he was just being "difficult" and "giving me a hard time" it makes me feel sick to the stomach. Any way here is his life to date;
From the day he came home from the hospital Jarrad rarely slept well. For the first 5 months of his life he slept in my bed while my poor husband tried to sleep on the lounge so that he could function the next day at work with out loosing a limb through accidents from sleep deprivation. Still to this day Jarrad will go to sleep only when playing with my hair and once I leave the bed he wakes not long after wards and comes looking for me. Controlled crying never worked he would become "uncontrollably" hysterical.
By three months he had eczema so severe that he had open wounds on his head. A trip to the childrens hospital meant wet dressings and steroid creams. To cut a long story short at 10 months of age we discovered that Jarrad had anaphylaxis to milk, eggs and peanuts and allergies to dust, cats, rice and beef.
During this very difficult time I blamed myself for not coping with Jarrad thinking that it was what I was doing that made him such an unhappy and "fussy" baby. When Jarrad was born my daughter was 15mths old so I therefore thought that I just wasn't handling things well having a new born and toddler after all was suppose to be hard work.
It wasn't until Jarrad started Kindy that I really began to think that there was something else besides the allergies that was causing the unusual behaviour
seen in my son. When the school nurse told me that Jarrad needed speech therapy I wasn't at all surprised. (I had just completed speech therapy for my daughter's stutter and knew that Jarrad's articulation needed addressing). I filled in the questionnaire for the appointment and I thought that I would mention some of his behaviours in the hope that maybe with improvement of his speech the behaviours would improve too.
At the speech therapy session I was told about tactile defensiveness - first I had ever heard of it. Yesterday after an OT appointment after a few tests the therapist confirmed that Jarrad indeed had SPD. She informed me that it was the most obvious case she had seen and that I was not imagining things - what a relief! Reading this web site and "The Out-of-Sync Child" is most definitely the best thing that could happen for my relationship with my son. I always knew deep down that something just was not right and resented other parents, teachers, family members reactions to Jarrad's behaviour because even though I did not have a name for Jarrad's problem I understood the feeling of frustration that so frequently effected him on a daily basis. I think that that is why I feel guilty now for the few occasions when he has caught me on a rough day when my patience level was low.
Now the challenge will be explaining this condition to others - which I feel I have just gotten use to doing in regards to his anaphylaxis and now it's like starting all over again. But at least I have a better understanding and a name for this problem and I know that there is help for Jarrad. At the end of the day I don't care if he becomes a rocket scientist or a gardener I just want him to be a happy healthy little boy who is comfortable with himself and enjoying his life.