All of Joshua’s life, from as early as two months, he was showing us signs of sensory processing issues but I wasn’t really seeing them or ready to accept it. My mom noticed it first at how challenging it was to soothe him and how only certain atypical things would work. Just before he was two months during our first trip back to Winnipeg, Joshua was only calming down to these black and white animal cards, or while at relatives homes an abstract bold throw pillow would soothe him.
I don’t know how many times I called my mom in tears during his first year of life having no clue what I was doing and why Joshua was so upset all the time. I was constantly asking her, “Is this how it is, is this normal?” Everyone kept telling me he will adjust and get better as he gets older, but my mom always said, “No sweetheart, this is not normal. You should be able to change his bum without a meltdown by now at 6 months. Or you should be able to put him on the floor with some toys and be content." I remember going through a phase of having to pin my child down to change his bum because all of the tricks didn’t work. NOTHING WORKED to have a calm bum change, he would continually roll over onto his stomach and didn't want to lie on his back. I tried toys, changing him while standing but that was difficult with a poopy bum. It wasn’t until recently at about 2.5 Years old did we start to have consistent calm bum changes because I discovered it was the bright lights in the bathroom that was causing the distress, but even still they are still challenging for him as new sensory needs arise.
Everything was a struggle and challenge. Feeding, changing bums, sleeping, playing, visiting new places or people, getting dressed, getting out the door, driving in the car, singing, loud noises, all of these everyday experiences or stimuli resulted in meltdown after meltdown. The only times he was content was sucking on his bottle, watching the same movies over and over again, or watching cars go by outside. I also noticed muscle tension at around 14 months, which to be honest was quite scary and nerve wrecking when he first started doing this. I didn’t understand why or what was causing it. I noticed it when I first began to drop him off at daycare, then he began to do it at home after waking up from nap and for quite some time or trying new foods. I also began to notice at around 16 months he was rubbing his head on the floors, doors, and walls multiple times a day everyday. When I mentioned this to my mom she suggested again, probably the 5th time, to look into sensory needs. She was always very understanding and not pushing it, but her background is Early Childhood music, and has been working with children for over 25 years and has done countless amounts of research into child development, but yet it still wasn’t sinking in.
Not long after that conversation with my mom, I had reopened my dayhome and I was getting everybody ready to get outside for a beautiful summer morning. This experience was filled with endless screaming, fighting to change his bum and get shoes on. These tasks at 18 months should have been fairly easy to achieve but yet we were struggling worse than ever. After two days of this and me in tears most of the day I finally got off the fence and accepted my own thoughts and said to myself “I think their is something going on with my son. It shouldn’t be this difficult to take care of a child.” I know I was a new mom, but I had been working in childcare for about 3 years and ran toddler rooms with 6 crazy toddlers alone and never had this many challenges getting them ready or caring for them in the day. I had been seeing the signs for a long time, I was trying to give him time as every child develops differently BUT he was struggling with everyday tasks and it was deeply affecting our lives. I decided at that moment to start researching and get help for our son and family instead of waiting for help to come to us.
I bought my first sensory processing book called, “The Out of Sync Child” and I read about sensory seeking behaviours and noted how many signs Joshua was showing. His constant need to scratch and rub all sorts of textures with his hands, rubbing his head on the floors, walls, and doors. I then searched sensory paths on Pinterest and created a quick sensory path for him. He had finally started walking at this point so I had it on the floor. That day he was on the sensory path every 20 minutes, running, walking, bear walking, crawling, and rubbing his head on all the different textures. That day he was calm and happy the whole day. I was in awe and amazement and also feeling nervous, because my reading had told me that he was seeking out tactile sensory input because his body wasn’t getting enough. I was excited that he was happy but I was also very nervous because what this could mean for our son.
This was the beginning of us living on the other side of the fence, still in chaos and constant struggle BUT it was also the beginning of our family slowly understanding what our son had been trying to communicate with us since he was born.
I am a mom to an amazing young son who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 2.5 years old. This blog is about the journey we have travelled as a family to discover how our son communicates and to be a happy child in a world that doesn't quite feel right to him. I am an Early Childhood Educator and I use my passion of play and individual needs to support our son to live a joyous and happy life.