What You Accept, You Teach.... Riiiiiiight.
(Denver, Colorado, USA)
I just read the first example from "The Out-of-Sync Child" on Amazon and I started crying. That is my son, to a "T."
My 3yr old was born with progressive hearing loss. We spent the first 5 months of his life dealing with "Colic" and I even had his pediatrician suggest that I was just suffering from PPD. My son wouldn't sleep. He was only happy when we would swing him jettison style those first 5 months. He wouldn't lay around much, always had to be swaddled and/or held, and was a constant nurser. He didn't like food when we introduced it, but loved the bottle especially after he got teeth.
As a toddler, my son remained a severe fuss-pot. We picked up the term "spirited child" around 1yr old, and it stuck for over a year. Jace was quick to stand, around 4mo's, but was slow to crawl, sit up and walk. He received hearing aids around 16mo's old and hated them, always taking them off and hiding them. He received his first cochlear implant in Sept, 2009, and hated it. We even lost one because he refused to leave it on. He wouldn't eat solid foods, especially those that required chewing, until well past his 2nd birthday.
It wasn't until we began working with a speech therapist almost a year ago that we had any inclination from ANY of his providers or evaluators (he'd been eval'd by the local school board for early intervention services and eval'd by the state for disability benefits) that we had our first suggestion of potential OT issues. In fact, she was certain he had sensory integration issues, and consulted her pediatric OT husband for further information. We moved 5 months later, and my son had a second implant, so the sensory issues were taken off the burners completely over the next 5 months.
Now my son is in preschool, and we have had our second comment about sensory issues, partially because I brought up our prior SLP's thoughts on the subject. We had another eval by an OT, who said that other than low core-muscle tone, my son seemed fine. "just work on the W-sitting, and other than that he seems OK. No follow up required." Two weeks later I got an email from my son's preschool teacher telling me he has been throwing himself on the ground, banging his head, and biting his hands. She said they'd started putting him in time out, but wanted to know if I was
seeing this behavior, and if I was, how was I dealing with it? My first instinct was panic: these people are going to think I beat my child! I thought. Then I reflected, and let the teacher know that I think this is just another phase of my son's sensory issues. As an infant he needed to swing and would flail out with his back like a steel rod when he was unhappy (all the time!); as a toddler he would head butt and body slam a caregiver; now he has turned to the floor/wall/himself for that deep-pressure input he needs.
I never had a name for what he was dealing with until now. I never had the time to deal with the sensory issues during our battle with the hearing loss. Now the sensory issues are at the forefront, and I seem to be the only one taking it seriously. To his providers, I'm overreacting. To my parents, I'm giving him the attention he wants. In fact, I just got into an argument with my dad yesterday because he told me "what you accept you teach" in response to my worriedly venting about the head-banging and hand-biting. I asked him what he thought I should do, spank him (sarcastic!), and told my dad that I would not hit to teach that hitting/biting is not OK. He claimed that I should simply walk away; that the banging/biting would hurt and my son would naturally stop if he wasn't getting that attention.
So today, in Target, I walked away the instant my son threw himself on the ground. Guess what... my son banged his forehead so much and so hard in that 1-2 minutes that he now has cuts and rugburn on his forehead. My parents' response? "Bet he won't do that very many more times." No, because I won't let him. He would have gone on and on until he was bloody, and they just DO NOT understand that. They seem to have given up on the "mommy factor" (he fits more for mom because I'm mom) and now they think that it's because I accept this behavior. Maybe they are right, but I refuse to let my son hurt himself. I refuse to walk away from a 3yr old who can't communicate feelings yet (still working on speech/language). I have to believe that trying to reason with him and help him deal with his feelings WILL prove to be the better alternative to pain or spankings.
But am I wrong?