I watched her approach the starting line of her track meet. I am feeling quite nervous probably because I know she is quite nervous. We have talked a lot about her feelings and she tells me that the sound of the gun as well as the cheers of the crowd make her “anxious” I love that she is able to tell me these things because, for those who have read my book, she was nonverbal for the first five years of her life and then only slightly verbal for a few years after that. So, trust me, we have worked so hard on communication that talking with her and sharing feelings is a huge, wonderful thing to experience.
So she told me all the things that make running in a track meet anxious for her but she also told me how much she really wants to run in the meets. So here is my wonderful child, who has the desire to run so much that she is will push down, deal with, or fight hard against the anxiety that her Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) brings.
We discussed ways to help her feel better such as the use of ear plugs to help with the sound of the gun as well as requesting a middle lane to be a bit further from the ever- cheering but anxiety producing crowd. Elizabeth was fine with those suggestions and actually seemed excited to have somethings she could do to help herself feel better. Through all this talking and idea sharing I can see just how much she WANTS to do this but how hard it is TO DO IT. The determination is strong but sadly the SPD is strong as well.
I started to think about all the things in life that Elizabeth has tried in life even if the battle between determination and SPD raged on in her body and mind. I started to think how hard and exhausting it must have been to deal with this all the time. I also started to think of all the things that the future could hold for Elizabeth and how I pray her determination stays strong because, as we all know, SPD does not go away completely.
You know, there are so many people who may look at our special children who have this disorder and make comments that perhaps we have babied them in life, given them an out when they don’ want to to a skill or task or even eat a certain food. There are people who nod their heads when we make requests to help make our children’s day less stressful or to help keep them stay calm, but truly don’t understand their needs and trials each day.
We have made it our job and goal in life to help our children so we do our best to explain “how they work” to those who will be working with them and we explain their needs to those we trust our children with each day. We hope and pray that what we do for them is enough or at least enough for their needs right now.
We do this in the hopes that those we teach will be able to help them when we are not there and to provide them what they need when a shut down or meltdown happens.
We do this because we want our children to have a life. To live life to the fullest. They face so many challenges each day but they try. Can you imagine how hard it is for them? and they do this eveyday. EVERYDAY!
Think about the things that make you nervous or anxious? I, myself, can think of quite a few! Think about the things that you would like to avoid or hurry through because they are uncomfortable for you? But imagine those things being part of your day each day lIke it is for our special children…… Our children are so brave and strong.
I can see Elizabeth’s smile when she crossed the finish line. She was so very happy and proud. I have taken a mental picture of that moment and knowing just how much work it was for her to get there, I want to use that picture to be my source of strength. To help me when I feel anxious, or nervous. I want to honor her strength and courage by using this mental picture during my tough times. She may not have tried to be these things but she is a source of strength to me, my teacher about life, my sweet friend.
The gifts of Elizabeth are amazing. You are loved Elizabeth!
I wish you all a peaceful week.