I had the most interesting conversation today with a lady. One of the things discussed was autism and sensory issues in kids. She doesn’t have children and actually doesn’t seem to have much of an idea what either of these issues are, in fact at one point she said “I think having a child with these things is harder on the parent than on the child.”
I tried to give her a little more insight into what autism is and explain a little bit about Kiara’s sensory issues but it was really just going over her head. She had no ill intent but it did make me realise that people still don’t really know much about these things and the default setting is that these kids are different or strange.
Before we discovered why Kiara was behaving the way she was, I am sure I also poo-poo’d terms like sensory issues. When you don’t have a sensory issue you really can’t understand the effect it has on a person who does. It is easy to assume that your child is being naughty when they don’t want to wear certain items of clothing or when they are seriously over stimulated and start acting out. Often these kids really just can not handle the fabric on their skin. Kiara has a cupboard full of clothes but she lives in a the oldest, grungiest pair of pjs. My mom bought her a new set in December but she can not wear them, she tries but lasts a few minutes and then she is back to the old ones. I have watched her try to adjust to the new things, it is really hard for her. She avoids wearing her long sleeve school shirt during winter by never taking her jersey off. For her the issues are very very real.
I have blogged often about her tantrums and mainly they were triggered when she was over stimulated which was mainly because she was in situations that were too much for her – bright shopping centres, crowded parties – things that cause her senses to be overloaded super quickly.
It is only when you have a child with sensory issues that you realise just how real it is and how much of a struggle it is for the child. Their experience of the world is so much more than the way we deal with the world. They feel things deeper, louder and brighter. I find it hard to imagine what the world must look like for them.
Do you have a child with sensory issues? How do you find people deal with these issues?