Sunday, May 30, 2010

Senses in the Spotlight: Getting Our 'Sensational' Families Thru the "Tough Times"

Here we are on a Holiday Weekend, for those of you in the U.S. I hope you all got to do something fun, exciting and family-esque.

We had 'Grams' visiting this weekend and as much as I LOVE her visits, I am totally exhausted. It's not that she's difficult or anything. I'm actually quite lucky to have a MIL like her: She's respectful, generous, kind, and so eager to do what she can to help out while she's here. It's just the impact on the KIDS that she has when she's here. Jaimie and Xander are hard to calm, wake me up all night long then Jaimie is "LEAVE ME ALONE!" and Xander is "I NEED TO TOUCH!" Ugh. BUT...we survived another visit and all is good. =)

Well, I promised an update on how Jaimie did with staying for lunch at school. She actually did very well. She managed to stay on Wednesday and Thursday. I had to check in on her on both days when I picked Jordy up from school but she told me, "Yes, I'll be fine Mama." My 'sensational Mama' instincts knew she was putting her usual brave face on--the one she wears when she's REALLY saying "I'm not sure I really want to do this but I sorta want to try." So I hugged her head, kissed the top of it then let her enjoy her stay at school. She was totally wiped when I got her after school, and incredibly grouchy until bedtime, but SHE DID IT! And I am so proud of her. When she woke up on Friday morning, though, I knew something was up.

You see, we've had a lot of little changes going on lately:

* We're getting into the last month of school and she's worried about the new summer routine;
* She's worried she won't be able to see her friend Maddie as often;
* She's worried about Grade Two already (and is a little nervous about the teacher, even if she does have a son with SPD and 'gets it');
* As I mentioned, Grams was here for a visit this weekend, which always mixes things up;
* One of Jordy's classmates will be joining us for our walks to school in the mornings as well as staying with us for part of lunch a couple days a week;
* We're trying different things with her Sensory Diet; mention a few things.

So it's been really tough. So picture it: Jaimie wakes up on Friday after sleeping, maaaaaaybe three hours straight. She looks at our "Jaimie's Schedule" and remembers that: (a) Abbey (Jordy's friend) will be starting to walk to school with us AND joining us for lunch; (b) she'd be starting her "Joining the Grade Two's" (aka: transitioning into Grade Two plan) that morning by joining the class with her friend Maddie for 'reading time'; and (c) Daddy was picking Grams up from the airport (so Grams would be here when she came home from school). So far so good. Mama usually starts planning her for stuff AT LEAST a week in advance so it wouldn't be a shock, right?


THEN she notices it was raining (she H-A-T-E-S rain: cold, drips on her head and face, wearing the rain gear...ick...), the clothes she wanted to wear weren't laundered yet, Daddy didn't have time to make cinnamon buns the night before when he was here, like "he promised"--her 'usual' breakfast (because Jaimie was having nightfrights and sleep-walking and Xander and Sophie didn't get to sleep until 10 the night before) and Xander was in a 'touchy-feely' mood and driving her nuts.

Abbey came, they all played a game that Jaimie invented (I'll TOTALLY have to post about that next time! WOW!) and she seemed calm. Then we walked to school in the drizzle, dropped Jordy and Abbey off at Kindy then ran down to her room. When Jaimie went to put her shoes next to Maddie's--which is the routine so Jaimie remembers where to put her shoes--we noticed they weren't there.

Uh oh.

Jaimie's face flushed. I sighed deeply and closed my eyes. Then Jaimie broke into tears.

She spoke faster than I thought possible: "If Maddie isn't here, I can't do that stuff in the other room. She's supposed to go with me! We're supposed to do it together, Mama!"

I knelt down to her level and said, "Hun, let's go see in the classroom. Maybe Maddie just didn't put her shoes where she usually does, right? That's happened before. C'mon."

Jaimie's body shook but she came with me. She went into the room and I watched her: Her eyes scanned the room, her face got even more flushed, she pulled her homework bag out and put it in the Homework Bin, scanned the room again, a few kids tried speaking to her, she ignored them then she burst into tears and ran to me.

"She's not here," she sobbed. "I have to go into there today [pointing to the Grade Two classroom across the hall]. I can't do that without Maddie. I can't stay for lunch. I don't want to walk in the rain."

Then before I had a chance to say anything, she fell on the floor in the fetal position and froze. I could have cried. I tried talking to her. I tried getting her to focus on me but I knew everything was too much. There was too much new; too much unexpected; too much changes to our usual routine.

Her teacher came out and said, "Is she coming in or not because I need to do the spelling test." Then she crouches down to Jaimie and says, "It's okay if you can't handle it today, Baby Doll. I know it's tough for you right now. But I have to do the spelling test now so if you want to come in, we gotta do it now. If you wanna go home, it's TOTALLY okay, but you need to tell us."

Jaimie whispers: "Home."

Her teacher puts her hand on my shoulder and says, "It's totally okay. Just talk to her about going into the other room and let me know when it'll be okay. This is supposed to help her so when she's ready, we'll do it. No problem."

I gathered Jaimie in my arms, put her jacket and boots on, took her outside, put her umbrella up then she, Sophie, Xander and I squashed together and went back home. I cried the whole way home but not because I was angry or upset (good thing it was raining so hard. LOL!)

How lucky am I to have such wonderful, understanding people around us? I realized in that moment than not all 'sensational' families are as lucky as we've been and that pains me. We all need that support during the rough patches--to know we're doing good even when we don't think so. To have people give us that support when we think we aren't doing enough or that we can't go on. THAT is so important, isn't it?

We got through the rest of our weekend despite all the new, the rain/snow, the disruptions and everything else. And we'll totally get through the rest because we have support and love. My wish is for ALL 'sensational' and special needs families to have this because it's what gets you through the rough patches and to see the good stuff.

Please share with us how you get through those rough patches, because there ARE quite a few when you are a special needs family. What you suggest could help another person who needs some new insight or tips.

OH! And you have a couple of days left to enter to win our contest to win a gift card to Bath and Body Works. So be sure to enter TODAY!!! =)


Hartley said...

I love that Jaimie! :)

My only suggestion, to other families, as you probably already know Chynna, is ROUTINE.

And when you are STRICTLY on routine add proprioception for seekers and silent/dark time for avoiders. Lots of it.

Glad to hear Gramm's visit went well, looking forward to hearing about Jaimie's new game!


Chynna said...

THANK YOU, Hartley. You are so right about routine. Without it, we wouldn't be where we are now. =)

I appreciate your input. (I'm going to post about Jaimie's game tomorrow. You'll LOVE IT! =) )


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