Monday, February 21, 2011

Sensory Issues SUCK: Part I

In the interest of keeping this from getting too long, I'm breaking it into 2 posts...

Samantha and I had a pretty dreadful experience on Saturday morning.  I'll get into that in my next post tomorrow, but by way of back story, Sammi's always had a pretty big startle reflex, from the time she was a baby.  Not to loud noises, per se (thunder never posed a problem), but in particular to a woman's loud, sudden, sharply-pitched laughter.  It's a tone that gets her.  Shrill = bad.  And I cringed everytime some well-intentioned person, cooing sweetly over her, suddenly laughed when Samantha responded in turn, because I could see the storm cloud coming a mile away...she'd startle, her lip would begin to quiver, her mouth turned into a frown that could put the Tragedy mask to shame, and the bawling began.  And, inevitably, said well-intentioned person would feel a mixture of guilt and offense, wondering it it's them.  Well, yeah, sort-of, it is.  Over the years the startle has gotten less and less, to the point where I was pretty sure it was gone, apart from a few isolated instances when she was particularly tired (tired + shrill = Very Bad).

I'm hoping some of you can enlighten me - can Sammi's issues with transitioning to new situations be related to audio sensory issues?  She tends to withdraw when in an unfamiliar, loud, crowded, closed environment.  She completely shuts down, and the loquatious little girl she was outside suddenly becomes shy and quiet, whimpering and asking to go home. 


Coincidentally, just Friday, I was thinking about birthday parties, and how in the last year and a half (or more), every. single. birthday party we've gone to has been a drama for her.  She has cried at every. single. one, and begged to go home.  Aren't parties supposed to be fun?  Not for my little girl.  The only parties she hasn't cried at have been her own.  It's weird.  It makes me wonder if it's even worth it to go to any more.  Ever.  I know I'm exaggerating, but I feel so awful telling her it's a partywe're going to have FUNyay!  and all she does is feel miserable.

Ugh. 

Part II tomorrow...

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel for you, my friend. My daughter had a preschool teacher with the shrill laugh and she reacted the same way. Now she doesn't cry any more but you can tell that she's overwhelmed by too much action. Sigh on the birthday party thing. I hear 'ya.

Casey said...

Sunny has always had a startle reflex too, and it has seemed to lessen over time. Usually now the frown that opens the flood gates stops at a frown if I comfort her as soon as she is scared. She also had sensory issues with food. :( Best wishes to you, hopefully it will get better in time.

patsy said...

i totally agree...miss maggie also starts crying if women laugh really hard and really loud! for now she does okay at parties, but our girl is definitely most happy when she is at home :)

sjk said...

I totally agree SUCK1 My daughter is 2 and was just diagnosed with Autism,she has has severe sensory issues since the day she was born.She screams almost nonstop to this day even at home.Leaving the house just seems to heighten the problem and make her even worse.She takes a little blanket with her and covers her head (on her own) when life becomes so overwhelming.I have also started giving her a sucker to focus on while I shop for groceries.
Parties are supposed to be fun but for these kiddos they are extremely overwhelming.Lilly hates parties,family get togethers, shopping, going to the park, playing outside etc. good luck!look upit will get better( or u will learn new strategies for coping :)

Beth said...

I've been slack in reading blogs lately--too much FB, I guess.
I've re-discovered how much I enjoy your writing (and your photography).

Now, as far as auditory sensory issues, Hannah was very similar to Sammy. Unexpected loud noises used to really shut her down. She can't stand crowded places--the Buddy Walk is always a challenge. She can't wait to get out of there. (What's worse than noise? How about exercising in extreme heat, with noise!)

We did some auditory work with her--Samonas and The Listening Program. I can't say it helped any, but I know it has made a difference for some kids. It might be worth a try. Only use a person who is trained (ours were OTs).

Hannah has gotten better--I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel as Samantha grows bigger.

There's nothing wrong with coming to a birthday party quite late so she gets to have a little fun, but leave before she melts down. Of course, you can pick and choose the parties she attends. I'd avoid Chuck-E-Cheese type parties, but maybe consider the parties at home.

Zoey's mom said...

As I mentioned on FB,Zoey is much the same.And Zoey,if I had to describe her personality,is an absolute social butterfly but the big events,like our Buddy Walk ... a nightmare.And suddenly,my nonverbal child is doing everything in her power to let me know she wants gone.Signs sit and go and home and points to door ways and exits and her tactics of letting us know she is not happy,go on and on.Her entire body language and facial expressions change.No waves and blowing of kisses and lunging at stangers.I lose my little happy child till we literally get in the car and walk in the front door.Her body suddenly relaxes and her smile returns.Makes me sad but knowing this at almost 4 will enable us to pick and choose and gather the tools to allow her to be out in the world.And when I say that,she is out in the world...school is not an issue,church is not an issue,stores are not an issue and really loud noises aren't necessarily either .... I can only explain it by the wild eyed look in her face as her eyes try to process the scene...

So glad we have this world of blogging.Together we will all find our way.I am certain of it.Will watch for part 2 ..

Brandie said...

My second dd has/had the same issues with loud and crowded places. It has gotten better with time and patience.
I remember arriving at a party and my friend's teenage daughter jumping out and scaring her. She cried for half an hour and we had to sit in a room by ourselves because she was so upset. That was when she was 4. It was a long time before she could go see a movie, too. She wore earmuffs the first time. I wish I had known then what I know now about sensory issues. I just never pushed her and tried to plan ahead. We started going to parties early. It gave her time to warm up to a new place before all the people showed up.

Lacey said...

I wonder if Arina is going to be like that. She cries if you raise your voice a little. In a house full of boys, thats a lot of crying!

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my word. That must be so stressful! You think you are doing something fun that she will love, and it turns into a nightmare.

Nathan'smama said...

We have this too, it seems to be particular to new environments, not, say daycare/preschool where there are plenty of loud and shrill children. I am very much hoping for nice weather for Nathan's birthday because OUTDOOR birthdays are no problem. Unfortunately his birthday is March 1st. Even if we have it at our house, it will not go as well as if we can have it in the park. But we went to a party last year in which Nathan had to sit on my lap clinging to me in order to eat pizza. Sigh.