Sensory Integration Disorder or Sensory Processing Disorder

A dearly beloved friend, Silvia, has a son, Phoenix, with Sensory Processing Disorder.

A serendipitous meeting, at a Parent Teacher group, is where I met Silvia, I remember walking by her to get to my seat, and knew I liked her immediately.

It wasn’t until weeks later, on a sunny morning out for breakfast, another serendipitous encounter; there Silvia sat.  We saw no one else but each other, chuckled that we met again, then exchanged phone numbers, and began spending time together with our sons; a new world was unfolding…

I am now on the other side of education, I am a parent, a mother with a huge gaping hole of vulnerability, worry, love, concern, protection, fear, and endless thoughts of what is the next best move… and a die hard, lifelong, passionate, fired-up educator…

Silvia and I shared our stories of parenting.  The challenges of seeing a scenario when our child hurts, what to do, when our child is uncomfortable, how to handle our OWN emotions and take care of our young one, and not slay other children or parents in the process!

Silvia, over time, began sharing more intimate details of Phoenix, who has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I knew of some discomforts her son had experienced in class, with other students who had punched him. Most of the teachers knew nothing of interventions or supports for Phoenix. He was feeling alone, anxious, misunderstood, he struggled to eat food at snack and lunch; the recognition of and action for, his condition was misinterpreted and lacked a depth of knowledge for individualized guidance.  I as well lacked a depth of understanding.

One day, after preschool, all four of us (Silvia, Phoenix, my son, and I) met. Many children surrounded a Lego table, a mounting of small exchanges, seen as “normal” child-like behaviors, such as perpetual moving, weaving around, and brushing by one another, some bumping, some “no, don’t touch,” “that’s mine,” and “hey,” uninhibited actions of young ones at play, had presented a tipping point for Phoenix.  He fell into screams and tears, and I immediately thought, “Is Phoenix alright? Did my son done something to cause this?”  Silvia went to her knees right next to her little one and she waited patiently as he let it out. All of it.  It was intense and loud. I had recently learned about the art of “being” with your child, rather than attempting to make it better or soothe or shoo the incident away, I was now witnessing how that looked.  Again, I found myself in a state of not seeing anyone else, but my friend and her son, who was in need of tremendous patience.

Silvia and I remained in contact despite feelings that came up for each of us on that day.  She asked me openly one afternoon about the experience and I explained that I was uncomfortable with what had happened, and wasn’t sure how to proceed with the boys spending time together, that I was impressed by her patience and care of her son.  Silvia replied that for her it was a normal occurrence, it was her world that Phoenix needed her to connect and work out the complex feelings and responses that SPD presents.  It was a refreshing conversation of honesty, how often does that really take place when it comes to our children, where respect and communication cohabitate, and the friendship moves forward.  I could have and may have hurt Silvia’s heart that day, because, though I have been a teacher for years, and find endless compassion in my work for students I didn’t fully get it. I was now a mother and a teacher, navigating new friendships with my peers, who happen to be mothers of my son’s friends, this was brand-new for me.  I was now straddling the line of educator and mother

[to be continued]



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