Thursday, January 27, 2011

P is for Poopyhead

P is for Poopyhead

Bet you saw this one coming.

Did you even doubt it for an instant?  I have, after all, written of Jacob's sometime favorite word before.

As always there are so many other P's in our lives from which I could have chosen... Pokemon, Public Schools, (Club) Penguin, Popcorn (Jake's favorite food), Prydain (Ethan's newly discovered realm), just to name a few.

But first and foremost, I suppose, would be Processing whose challenges for Jacob rule his and our lives. 

Yes, that's right... now that I've made you giggle with a potty word, hooked you and reeled you in, I'm going to turn it all around.  I'm going to get all serious and talk about my son Jacob and his autism.  Again.  Sorry, I do that all the time, the old bait and switch.  But it works, doesn't it?   OK, stay with me then.

The Sensory and Language Processing Differences (much gentler, kinder word than "disorder," don't you think) are primary ways in which Jake's autism manifests at this point.
It took a long time for me to actually process this information when he was young and I was new to the wacky world of special needs: how Jacob might be experiencing life in a way that would differ so far from my own.

I think it is just so hard for people to understand that we don't experience reality and the world with our senses, but with our brain, through its interpretation of our senses.   And if someone's brain is wired a different way, speaking a completely different language then yours, how can you expect them to draw the same conclusions? 

I remember an early OT of my son's trying to get me to understand how his sensory issues affect all of his learning and his ability to function in the world.  She said: "imagine you are walking on a high wire suspended 200 feet in the air between tiny platforms, and with no net.  Are you going to be able to carry on a causal conversation while you cross it, or do you have to put every fiber of your being into your footsteps?  Well, for your son?  Walking across the room on the floor takes as much concentration out of him as the tightrope walk would for you."

That was just what I needed to hear.  I got it.  Snap.

And then I thought about me driving the car.  I love to have conversations and listen to music while I'm driving, as long as I'm going somewhere I know how to get to, and the road and weather conditions are fairly normal and reasonable.  But put me on a winding, unknown road at night, in a rainstorm?  Shut up and turn that damn radio off, I need to concentrate if we're all going to survive. 

And if conditions change mid-drive and there is already a noise filled car?  It may take a while for me to notice that I am getting tenser and tenser, and in desperate need of silence.  And once that silence has been achieved?  Try to talk to me or flip on the radio and I will get nasty and snappish.

These are really helpful metaphors I remind myself of whenever I start to get impatient with Jacob's being distracted by or flipping out over what are ordinary sensory experiences to me.  Or his need for tremendous amounts of input to make sense of a situation your brain or mine would intuit in an instant.

This photo in no way actually illustrates this post. There is no reason to throw it in here, other than to say: look at my beautiful son, Jacob, enjoying his Snow Day today. And since this is MY blog, I can do that. So there.
And then there's the Language Processing piece, that whole other ball of wax, but I've written about this before (last week, in fact).

And besides, you have a bunch of other blogs to go read, the ones that will actually keep you laughing throughout.  Go, have fun.

This post has been inspired by and linked up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday writing meme. And no, I am not the only blogger whose letter "P" post led them straight to the potty this week.

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