My son Sasha

by Gail

Sasha was born after I had been on bedrest for about 18 weeks. But because so much of what he has is familiar to me from my childhood, I don't think the pregnancy complications caused it.

As a tiny baby, he hated having his clothes changed. My mom used to massage him and soothe him. Then when he was 3 months old we went on a trip overseas. We found out quickly that he could not handle long car trips. He would scream for 30 minutes and more in his car seat. We changed all our plans to accommodate him so we only drove at night. Even so, it was a major challenge.

Fast forward to when he was 2 and a half years old. It became impossible to dress him. He complained all clothes hurt him. Anything fleece was especially bothersome, or the inside of sweatpants. Everything had to be smooth. It was getting cold and I could not get a coat on him. Meanwhile, from a very young age he would throw toys. He also hit a lot, especially hit me whenever I tried to change him. He constantly put objects in his mouth.

A co-worker came to work one day and I told him how exhausted I was from the battles to dress my son. He told me his son had been evaluated and had SPD. As he talked to me I realized "that's my kid". The next morning I went to the pediatrician, and she gave me forms and told me the next steps. We don't live in the US, but through our HMO we have child development centers. Sasha went through a whole bunch of tests in all areas, and we saw an OT and a social worker.

Sasha just turned 4, and being his parent continues to be a challenge. He seeks stimulation all the time. Our best days begin with 10-15 minutes of hugging, tickling, him trying to push us over, etc. This amount of stimulation gets him going on the right track for other activities. His pre-school is excellent because they have a big yard with lots of swings, climbing, riding toys, etc.

Routine is very important to him. Our hardest times are vacations, when he does not have his regular routine. We're two moms in our 40s with a 4 year old boy (and his older sister) so we're constantly challenged to give him the level of physical activity he needs.

I've found hiking is one of the best activities for him and for our family. He really loves to be out in nature and to be physically challenged. I have no doubt he'll want to be a rock climber! I have had to let go of my own fears a lot - he's physically very capable and he needs to explore. He gets on a riding toy in a helmet, barrels off downhills on the sidewalk, and stops at all the cross streets to wait for me to cross him. It's not what I thought kids would do at 4, but it's what he does.

A speech therapist who evaluated him told me "therapeutic horseback riding". He's done it for this whole school year and he loves it. I think it's really helped him. We're fortunate that our health insurance covered some of this.

Some things I thought of as classic illustrations of how he is: when he was 2, we got him a tricycle. He sat on the patio and practiced falling off it over and over. That's my kid. He has a eyeglasses case he plays with as a toy. He shut it on his lip and found out it hurt. Then he tried it several more times. That's my kid. I took him to an outdoor fair where kids were painting. He painted a whole page with a brush, then put down the brush and rubbed his hands all over it, then took the page to a pool of water that was nearby and put it in there, got it soaked, himself soaked, covered in paint, that's my kid.

The social worker told us putting lots of different things in his mouth is a sign of curiosity and intelligence. And she told us he's sensitive to social cues. For all this we're grateful.

I also had that "OMG, that's me" feeling and continue to do so with him. I hate changing my clothes. I ate paste, playdough, flowers, everything possible as a kid. The more I have learned the more I have identified with what I have learned.

I wrote this because I didn't see so many stories of sensation seeking kids on this page - if you have a kid like this, don't despair. We have many exhausting days but Sasha also brings us a lot of joy.

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