Savouring the Little Moments with Sensory Processing Disorders and Special Needs
Loving a child with any special needs or sensory issues comes with its challenges. Every time they fall, our hearts drop like a brick from the sky as we are forced to choose to rush to the side of our fallen child, or allow them space—knowing they would fight the helping hands. No matter what the struggle may be, everyone is different, we can all relate to that glorious feeling when a child responds with positive emotions.
I came across the following stories which share breakthroughs witnessed in one person’s schooling experience and career. I hope looking at even the smallest of these moments will encourage you to cherish these priceless moments with your children.
As a student working as a teacher’s aide, I was placed in a PE class to assist specifically with Jane. Jane has Down Syndrome and ASD. She was very angry because she preferred her old PE aide, but she had me. It took a few weeks, but I will never forget the moment I walked into the gym and she looked up at me. She then proceeded to pet my shirt and say its color. She had never looked at me intentionally before.
Olfactory - Smell
Jane again. A few months down the road, I had bought a new perfume. It hadn’t occurred to me at that time as a student that I should not wear strong smells. This was a positive moment, thankfully. I was showing Jane an alternative work-out to what the other kids were doing and evidently she caught a whiff of my perfume, a vanilla musk, because she put her arms around me, sniffed, and bit—not because she was mad, but because I smelled good. Of course I had to remind her not to bite, but we had a good giggle about it.
Gustatory - Taste
Richard was a high-school senior with special needs. Very verbal, but also a very picky eater. His school would bring a group of special needs children over 18 to the university each Friday so they could have lunch with peers their age. He remembered that I had sat with him one time, even though this day I was just in passing. He caught my eye and pointed down at his plate—it was full of different foods that he had decided to try. He was so proud!
Vestibular - Balance
I had taken my own child to a children’s gym one summer. There was a mom there with a little boy, and she had warned us that he had ASD almost as soon as we walked by. My daughter would not have known or minded if the mom hadn’t said anything. My daughter ran upon the balance beam and right down the other end where she leapt off. The little boy had noticed and ran off to do the same, mom trailing behind calling “no, wait for me! You can’t do that!” He did.
Auditory - Hearing
Lucas is a boy with ADHD that goes to the same library and me and my daughter. You’ve probably heard the term “selective hearing”. Well, ultimately he was super focused on another boy’s light up shoes that he seemed not be listening to the speaker during story time. The speaker asked Lucas some questions about the story to bring him to attention—but Lucas got every answer right, despite the assumptions.
Tactile - Touch
A dear friend of mine has a sweet daughter with ASD. She wore blue jeans to church last Sunday and called herself a cowgirl. She had never worn jeans before because she couldn’t get passed the texture, but now she can.
Propioception – Body Awareness
One last moment with Jane. I was only to spend a year in that class, as I was about to graduate and move elsewhere. She gave me a hug as I was leaving class without pulling my clothes, grabbing inappropriate areas, or biting because she likes the way the fabric feels. Just a gentle, little hug. It was bitter sweet to say good-bye after seeing her progress that year; even though I was only with her for an hour a day she had come to include me in her world.
Sometimes a moment without tantrums seems like too much to ask for. But remember, when those sweet moments where your child’s spirit shines brightest to cherish what you have. Bring them in prayer to Jesus, and trust in His ways.
Matthew 19:13 “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them.…”
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