I could see it starting….

Those of you who have children with sensory issues know what I am talking about.

The start of an overload.

A sensory overload.

For us now, it is usually caused by too much going on with our schedules or emotions about some day to day things that Elizabeth has not talked about.  Back when Elizabeth was little, the overloads or shutdowns could be triggered by as little a thing as putting on shoes or having someone talk to her in public.

But now, it is the above.

So, she started saying she was not hungry.  And for Elizabeth that is huge. It is like saying that “Today I am not going to use oxygen”  That is how significant that comment is.

Then she started humming a bit.  NEVER a good thing.  She does this to calm herself.

Then she started having trouble organizing herself and her system enough to do the simplest of tasks.  I asked her to get something off of the pantry shelf.  It was right in front of her and she was unable to locate it.   

Yes, it was starting alright.

On this journey with Elizabeth, we have learned how important it is to talk, share, express feelings and to teach Elizabeth how to advocate for herself.   

We talk often and long, she and I.

But usually this has to wait until her system is calm again. But the self advocacy is the part that she has been taught to use to help us help her.  It begins by her saying “ Mom, I am overwhelmed, I need a break.” Or “ I need time alone.”  

So our hard work paid off and she said one of the above phrases.

So now came the time to talk about what sensory items she needed to help her.

She picked her “big heavy blanket”,  It is like a weighted blanket but is actually a heavy comforter. And her vibrating pillow.  Whose name is Senseez.

She uses both of these, along with dim light and vanilla wax melts ( plug in ones, NOT flame)….this combination.

This vibrating pillow is something she loves very much.  She says it makes her feel “calm” This pillow has a nice soft vibration to it.  Typically this pillow is used when she is overloaded.

She will pick it when she is nervous or scared.  

Usually she leans on it to activate the gentle vibration   But you can sit on it or hug it as well.

Elizabeth uses the pillow at home during this quiet time, but it can be used at school or at bedtime and for reasons other than the ones we use it for.

About 45 minutes later, Elizabeth came downstairs.  “ I feel relaxed Mom.”  And she looked like it too.  There was a nice calmness to her.

So we took the time later that day to talk about what led to the need for the break.

She had so many things she was thinking about.  Pretty deep things.  Like “Do you think Popi likes heaven because I miss him?”  Popi is my beloved Dad, who passed away almost three years ago. And there were more thoughts and feelings as well.

So we talked and talked and I hugged her when she cried.  I love this amazing child so much.

I am not saying that dealing with shutdowns or meltdowns is ever easy, because it never is.  But as special needs parents,  knowing your child needs and HOW to help them get those needs met, via a sensory diet, is critical to help them navigate this thing called life.

Please take a look at Senseez, a sensory product, and decide if you think it would help your sensory child or ask you OT for their help.  And as always, I would love to hear your thoughts and the successes you are having on your journey.

I wish you a peaceful week.