“I believe it might be Sensory Processing Disorder.”
Those were the words from the school psychologist referring to my son. I knew something was wrong. He obviously had some challenges we had never picked up on before the last couple of months.
But let me back up a little…
My sweet four-year-old son, whom we’ve affectionately referred to as “Bubby” his whole life, has always been very energetic. Even when he was in the womb, I was pretty convinced he was performing all-out gymnastics routines in my belly. The feet were always going, the hands were always touching, the eyes darted from one thing to another in a frenzy of activity. But we just assumed that was usual infant/toddler/preschooler “all boy” behavior.
It wasn’t until he started three-year-old preschool in a traditional classroom that we realized that maybe there was more. He had always been just fine in daycare, but the regular classroom made a difference. He was acting out in ways we had never seen or experienced, and we just couldn’t figure out why. Without getting into much detail, the bad days far outweighed the good, and eventually we had to pull him out of what had been my dream school for him and put him back into daycare. I can’t even put into words how difficult and frustrating these days were, but I’ve never cried or prayed so much in my life as I did during that time. I spent so many nights by his bed as he slept, soaking my shirt in tears as I begged God to help him, to help us. And, so far, I just didn’t see any real answers.
But I knew that wasn’t the end, and this mama was going to find out what was going on with my boy. The first step, I believe, was to realize the difference between him giving us a hard time and him having a hard time. We missed it so many times, and still do. But I knew there was more than just a behavior issue. Something was going on in his brilliant little brain.
I began with our local school district and set up testing for him that included a hearing and vision test and a screening with a school psychologist and a speech language pathologist. He was off the charts developmentally and academically, but as I explained to the school psychologist what we had been experiencing, and she noted some behaviors in him herself, the logical explanation for her was Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
We still had to fill out a behavior checklist. And then we needed a referral from our pediatrician to an occupational therapist. And then the occupational therapist had to evaluate him for an official diagnosis. But my research on the subject was immediate and fully involved. The information available was vast and immeasurable (thanks, Google). Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to finally be getting somewhere in figuring everything out, but I was completely overwhelmed with this potential diagnosis. My brain was fried and I found it hard to even breathe.
Then I remembered something that the psalmist David said in a similarly distressing moment.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” – Psalm 61:2 (KJV)
God had brought us to this place. He made my boy, and He loves my boy more than I ever could. And – HELLO! – He was actually answering those tear-soaked prayers I had cried out to Him. In all of those overwhelming moments – and there were many – He saw each tear and heard each desperate cry. And He was answering, maybe not in the way I thought He should, but when does that ever happen? Rarely is the path to an answered prayer without its challenges.
My overwhelmed heart and scattered brain began to calm, knowing that my Father, Who controls the entire universe, by the way, was in control of this moment, this disorder, this road on which He was leading us.
Just in case you were wondering, our Bubby is making amazing progress. He is in occupational therapy every other week and we are just taking everything a day…no, a moment…at a time and doing everything we can to help him succeed. He’s incredibly smart and witty and definitely keeps us on our toes – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. He will be starting 4K in the fall, in a regular classroom, but I am not afraid. He will not be going to the “dream school” I had planned for him, but I am not disappointed. I’ve learned God’s dreams for my life and for my family are so much greater than my own. So I’m just going to trust Him on this one.
Love in Christ,
NOTE: For those of you who may be wondering, “What in the world is SPD?” – here is one of the best explanations I have found for it online: Signs & Symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder.
I shared this blog post in the Salt & Light Link Up.