Let’s Label Our Children SOME MORE!

26 Mar

A few years ago (wow, that went fast) I wrote a blog post about how crazy I thought Oppositional Defiance Disorder was.

While ODD is still out there, lately I’ve been reading a number of blogs where they are talking about how their child has a sensory issue.

A sen-so-ry issue.

Before I delve into this, let me tell you a little bit about Foster Toddler, or FT. The minute we got FT, we knew he was definitely having problems. They’d already diagnosed him as being hard of hearing, and were even talking about evaluating him for autism.

Was FT Autistic? Nope. Was he hard of hearing? Nope. As soon as we got him into our home and got him into a routine and showed him what we expected of him, we learned that he was not deaf (he could hear perfectly fine) and that he was nowhere near autistic – the kid was soaking up information like a sponge. He’d been babied so much by his mother that he wanted her to do everything for him, and got what he wanted. The few months he was here with us he learned an astonishing amount, thanks to the teacher who came to visit him twice a week and to us playing with him. The caseworkers said that they’d never seen a kid learn as much, as fast, as FT did.

Now let’s talk about Sensory Integration Dysfunction. This is a disorder or dysfunction that has been getting a LOT of press lately. There are a few bloggers that I’ve read who say that they believe (or have been told) that their children have a Sensory Integration Dysfunction problem. My guess is that were FT here today, and the doctors that were here knew about SID (I’ve questioned a few and they’ve never heard of it), he would be labeled as having SID. Did he? Absolutely not.

Take note please that I am NOT trying to say that this “disorder” doesn’t exist. I am NOT trying to say that these parents are morons. I am NOT trying to diminish the stress that these parents are going through.

What I am trying to say is that the medical community is always ready to heap a diagnoses on someone – children especially – when there’s nothing inherently wrong with the child.

Babygirl didn’t sit up at the right time. Did I realize this? No. I was so stressed just trying to be a good mom to both of my children, and trying to learn how to take care of two instead of one, that I didn’t even look up at what age she should be sitting up. The nurse (we had a visiting nurse for her first year thanks to our insurance) told me only after she’d been sitting up for awhile that she was one week away from getting a physician involved. But Babygirl did sit up, and when she finally did it wasn’t one of those “sit, wobble, fall” things, it was “sit for about a half an hour and then she’s done” things.

Babygirl likes to do things perfectly the first time she does them, which is why she’d taken so long to sit up and is why she was a little late in walking (she didn’t walk two steps and fall, she walked halfway across a room). We recognize this about her and are trying to help her to understand that you don’t have to do everything perfectly.

Yesterday she had her first gymnastics practice and she had a meltdown the first 10 minutes of class. She bawled and didn’t want to join the group, so I brought her to the bathroom. She couldn’t explain how she felt, and she didn’t want to join the group, but she didn’t want to go either.

I knew immediately that she wanted to join the group but that because she’d never done the stretches they were doing, she was unsure of herself and so didn’t want to join. Because of THAT she pulled herself away. But then she was frustrated with herself for pulling away and was trying to force herself to go, but couldn’t. This led to the meltdown.

What was my response? First it was to get her to stop bawling. We’ve tried to impress on both of our children that there are plenty of reasons to cry (you get hurt, you’re upset over something, ect), but that crying because you are unsure about something is no way to solve the problem. Once she stopped crying I gave her two options.

1. She could sit out there with me and watch for a few minutes. After those minutes were up I impressed that I wanted her to try some of the activities.

2. We could go home.

I made it clear that I was not going to sit there for an hour simply watching, and that I wasn’t going to put up with her crying the entire event either.

So what happened?

Babygirl stood near me for a few minutes and we watched. Then she rolled down the mat over and over again. Then she joined the group and that was that.

Was I being mean? Some parents would think so. Some parents would be shocked that I gave her those two options and that I wasn’t being more “sensitive” to her needs.

These may be the same types of parents who have children who believe that they have SID.

I’ve said it before – we’ve become a culture of parents who tries to baby our children far too much. While I love my children, and I love playing with them, I also want what is best for them, and part of that includes them learning how to deal with the world.

The world doesn’t stop because you have “sensory issues”. Work doesn’t allow you to go have a half a day to calm down over a tag brushing the back of your neck. You can’t walk out of a grocery store refusing to pay for the groceries that you’ve already run up simply because you are too nervous to talk to the clerk behind the counter.

From what I can see right now, this SID is a lot like ADHD – while some children may actually have a serious problem and will need special care and teaching, the majority of the problem is simply the medical community trying to tag a label on every child and parents who are a little too sensitive themselves.


6 Responses to “Let’s Label Our Children SOME MORE!”

  1. stressfreekids March 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm #

    I think it’s natural for the medical community to want to put a label on anything they encounter even if they are not sure what it is. Case and point: ADD and ADHD. Growing up I never heard of this diagnosis, but as my kids have grown half of their friends were on meds.
    It is always difficult to find the balance between pampering our kids and being too distant. Learning how to survive in this world is important. Growing up in a loving, supportive, nurturing and caring environment is more important. Kids learn from their parents and parents can certainly learn form their kids. In fact we created a business from experiences and challenges our children had. Rick

  2. Finn March 26, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

    Oh boy can I relate to this. Lil’ M was VERY sensitive to sounds when he was younger. He still is to some extent, but it’s not an issue. It’s not uncommon with kids with his issues, but I wasn’t going to just rearrange my whole life because he couldn’t deal with the sound of the toilet flushing in a public restroom.

    Exposure is the key to desensitizing these kids to whatever is bothering them. I think you did the right thing in not giving in to Babygirl’s anxiety, but giving her reasonable options. Go you.

  3. scootersbabygirl March 27, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Aww, thanks Finn! I appreciate the support!! Sometimes I need it :). (Okay, more than sometimes…)

  4. Jennifer March 27, 2009 at 2:27 am #

    I think you did a good job with what you did with babygirl… I on the other hand would probably have told my Princess to grab her britches and be a girl!!! HA

    Also I have a child with sensory issues. He is not labeled with SID. I had never heard of that label until I read this. He HATES loud noises, and lots of other things. One reason we got help was because he likes LOTS of chewing and biting. Not with his front teeth either. His molars. We tried EVERYTHING we knew to get him to stop. We even thought it was due to the fact he doesn’t talk. That was not the case because at 27 months old he still chews like he is teething. Will he get better, sure! I needed someone elses guidance on how to deal with it. Saying “NO BITE”, biting back and popping in the mouth had not worked, also when he started communicating more that did not help either! We have learned some new tricks from his OT but also he is not labeled. Which I am thankful for!!!

    Who wants a labeled kid???? It’s bad enough they will create labels for themselves as they get in school!!!

  5. Jenera March 28, 2009 at 4:42 am #

    Great post! I think people are very quick to find something ‘wrong’ with kids and to not look at basic issues that could be there. I agree some kids do have problems but I find it hard to believe that so many kids have ‘disorders’ of any type.

  6. Eileen April 1, 2009 at 12:04 am #

    Actually, although unintentional, this blog sounds like a rather smug indictment of parents and professionals who are trying to help children with significant difficulties to develop into healthy, happy, productive individuals. Marginalizing the challenges many children experience reflects a limited understanding of the pain many families and children live with on a daily basis. Given that this blogger’s knowledge of SID comes from parent blogs and not from a professional who can evaluate whether or not a child is suffering from SID, her assumption regarding FT is unfounded. Parenting is a great challenge with no set of rules and very little opportunity for training. All parents make mistakes from time to time, but I have often taken refuge in the studies that show that parents can be wrong 90% of the time and their children can still turn out fine. Medicine is not an exact science and it is easy to regard it cynically. It would be foolish to believe that health care professionals just want to put a label on children for no reason.

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