DISCLAIMER: This is my first blog post as a member of the From Left to Write Book Club, a group of bloggers that do not write traditional book reviews, but instead use the books as inspiration for blog posts that are about our own experiences.
Have you ever identified with a book character so much that you sometimes use it as a way to describe yourself to other people? If so, whom do you choose?
I have frequently described myself as Roderick Usher from Edgar Allen Poe’s masterpiece “The Fall of the House of Usher.” No, I haven’t had a house dissolve into a black pool and disappear, nor have I inadvertently buried anyone alive, at least that I am aware of.
But, the description Poe gave of Roderick always resonated with me. It includes a form of sensory overload called a “sensory processing disorder” and in Roderick’s case, a defensive sensory processing disorder.
(click for source)
Like Roderick, I am hyper sensitive to sounds, smells, taste, and tactile stimuli. Sounds that do not bother other people are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. Normal speaking voices are always too loud. Someone folding a crease in a piece of paper with his fingers will send me fleeing the room. I cannot eat ice cream with a metal spoon because if the cold metal touches my teeth it is physically painful.
My entire life I have dealt with these idiosyncrasies and learned quite a few coping mechanisms that get me through the day without looking like a lunatic to my friends and family. Mostly. But, I have suffered the unfair labels of quirky, particular, picky, and even diva (the bad kind) because of some of my coping skills, or lack thereof.
But, why am I writing this blog post?
I am writing it because after 4 years of denial I have come to terms that my son also has a defensive sensory processing disorder.
For 4 years I told myself that “it was just a phase,” and “he’ll grow out of it.” And, for 4 years I dealt poorly with a situation that could have been made much easier if I had opened my eyes and come to terms with my greatest fear – that my first born child is “his mother’s son.”
(click for source)
Once I came to terms with this idea I was not satisfied with doing nothing. Suffering from an acute case of “Mama Bear Syndrome” I was convinced there was something I could do to ease his distress and help him acquire the skills he will need to get through this life when everything is turned up to 11. Or 12. Or 18,000.
Most importantly, I do not want him to suffer needlessly or to be sidled with an unfair label for the rest of his life.
I want him to be healthy and happy.
I know one way to do this is to embrace our shared different-ness and own it instead of trying to hide it (as I have for 30+ years).
I don’t want my son to feel shame about his different-ness as I have. And, I can provide him help that was not available when I was a child.
Two weeks ago I brought my son to a occupational therapist for an evaluation.
One week ago I was given an evaluation that told me not only what difficulties my son was experiencing, but a plan of action on how to deal with them, with short term and long term goals included.
Our journey begins.
This post was inspired by the memoir Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron as she shares her journey raising a gender creative son. Join From Left to Write on September 5 as we discuss Raising My Rainbow. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.