Maybe the next time we see an out of control child we should judge less and show compassion more. What we see may not actually be their reality.
Guest Post by Whitney Cornelison of Beauty In the Mess
I thought I would be okay.
As soon as she sat down next to me with her checklist, she started naming off all the things wrong with my son. Tears started welling up in my eyes and falling down my cheeks. She ignored the tears and continued talking.
I only semi-heard her as I watched three of my other children out of the corner of my eye in the waiting area. My husband has told me that I should reschedule the occupational therapy evaluations, but I thought I could get through them.
How did we get here?
My children were showing me signs of sensory processing disorder. I knew that in order to help them navigate life, they needed help sooner rather than later. My Mommy Gut was right.
What were the signs I saw? There were pretty normal signs of SPD like:
- Overly sensitive to stimulation
- Unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity
- Intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions
- In constant motion
- Does not seem to understand verbal instructions
- Jerky movement when in motion, not fluid
- Covering ears with hands.
There seemed to be good days, months, weeks, but lately it seemed to be getting worse. Maybe the growth spurt? Talk of selling the house and moving? Daddy being gone a lot with work? Disruptions with our routine? There are so many variables that can cause SPD to be triggered.
We had already been through getting a diagnosis when my oldest son was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. I knew that Sensory Processing Disorder was a possibility. It usually surfaces as the child gets older. Since he was only 2 when he received his Apraxia diagnosis, we were just waiting.
There is something heart wrenching and soul crushing when someone sits down next to you and makes a list of everything they see wrong with your child. The little boy that you birthed with the perfect tiny fingers and toes. The toddler with the ability to light up a room with a smile. The 3-year-old who is quick to make sure people who come into your home are greeted well and hugged before they leave. The 4-year-old who loves his baby sister so much and tells the best stories. Even when you know that there is something that seems off, it still hurts.
Then the guilt comes crashing in.
What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently? If I had caught it earlier would it not be this bad? Why am I such a bad mom?
As we waited for his sister to finish her occupational therapy evaluation, I took everyone for a little walk outside. I needed air. The younger two were getting restless. We just needed to be outside.
We practiced balancing on the curb, walking lines, listening for birds. But when it was time to go inside, my oldest son didn’t want to go in. I had to leave the stroller at the door with the kind man who was holding it open for me and run to get my son. As I carried my son in my arms to the door I started apologizing to the gentleman. He just looked at me and said, “It’s okay. I get it.”
And for once, there was no judgment.
He experienced the same thing with his child. He had been there.
Another mom had her younger child with her waiting for her older son also. My son started playing with him and got up in his face. He wasn’t being mean, but most parents start getting nervous when he does this. She looked at me straight in the eyes and said, “It’s okay. Really. He has an older brother. It’s really okay.”
There was no judgment in her look or in her voice. It was refreshing to not have to explain his behavior. To have a mutual understanding with another mom. It was glorious.
I was not prepared for how emotionally spent I would be after the two hours of evaluations. My head was spinning. Thoughts of how we were going to afford occupational therapy for two kids plus physical therapy for one of them danced through my head.
I just sat in the van with everyone strapped in the carseats, unable to move. Not even sure where we were going next. I turned on a DVD for the kids while I gathered my thoughts and read through some Bible passages.
Being a family of six brings enough stares. Add in emotional outbursts and you’re like a walking circus act.
Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover
Maybe the next time we see a child out of control we should judge less and show compassion more.
The next time we see a mom struggling with a stroller and several children in tow, maybe we should stare less and help more.
What we see may not actually be their reality.
While we may see a child who is out of control with a parent who needs to take control of the situation and discipline said child, the reality of the situation may be that the child is over stimulated and can’t regulate their emotions. Hence the outburst.
Compassion. Encouragement. Understanding. A helping hand. A warm smile. All of those things mean the world to a mother in the middle of a stressful situation. A little kindness goes a long way.
Be the good.
Whitney Cornelison is the creator of Beauty in the Mess, a wife, mommy of four, Jesus lover, blogger, crafter, chai drinker, lover of antiques, and all things vintage. She dreams of one day renovating an Airstream trailer and traveling around the country with her family of six. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and her favorite, Instagram.