As so many of you know, Justin and I had a difficult time adjusting to Robbie’s sensory processing difficulties. It seemed like we were never going to have a “normal” child. We were never going to make it through a meal at a restaurant or a church service. We would always have to leave playgrounds because Robbie acted aggressively toward other children. Bedtime would involve epic meltdowns for all eternity. And Robbie would spend the rest of his life running around like his pants were on fire. And so, desperate for some sort of reprieve, we started Robbie in occupational therapy.
I was skeptical. How well could this really work? Robbie was going to go once a week. We were supposed to brush him and perform joint compressions every two hours. And this was really going to change our lives? Brushing was going to make Robbie calmer? No way. Not even possible. But we did it anyway. Justin and I saw some changes but then, as soon as we thought we were good, there would be a setback. A page-long letter from his pre-school teacher about three trips to the school office in one day for kicking kids, climbing cabinets, and leaping from cot to cot during nap time. Or the phone call asking us to come pick him up because he had slapped a child. Which is how we headed into Christmas vacation.
But, all of a sudden, something changed. I’m not sure if we were more consistent about brushing and incorporating a sensory diet into our day or if things just started to click with Robbie, but the past twelve days have been wonderful. Sure, we’ve had our moments. Like maybe when I told Robbie he couldn’t get a gun as a prize at Gattitown and he threw a fit, so we left without a prize at all (one of my strongest parenting moments). On our way out, he punched me in the face twice. But, this gave us the opportunity to be firm in punishing him, and I think it’s the first time he’s realized that his actions have implications.
This break, we survived (barely) a Christmas Eve church service. Robbie went shopping with me and held my hand the entire time – not running around and making the entire experience a nightmare. He wants hugs and kisses and snuggling. He talks about how happy he is and how much he loves us – without prompting. And he seems so much freer to just be himself. Which I think is the most any parent can ask for.