Vaccine is a 4 letter word

In this day and age we have so many hot button topics. Like Linus says in The Great Pumpkin;  ”There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin." One could easily substitute the Great Pumpkin for abortion, racial discrimination or same-sex marriage and the saying holds true today, despite our supposed growth in these areas over the last several decades. 

In the sensory world, the biggest four letter word, or topic you don’t want to discuss is Vaccines. The looming question of should I or shouldn’t I, or did they or didn’t they has become more heated. Actress and Playmate Jenny McCarthy has even weighed in on this topic as a proponent against vaccination. She has been praised, criticized and gained a lot of press over her beliefs. Most recently, she became the subject of one article that crossed my Facebook Newsfeed.

Last night I read Jennifer Ioffe’s article I've Got Whooping Cough. Thanks a Lot, Jenny McCarthy. She brought up some great points in this highly debated issue. I even agreed with most of them. However, I found her article highly insulting. Ms. Ioffe is funny, articulate and very well spoken. She is also offensive, judgmental and not a parent. This actually does matter since she insults parents throughout her article. Is it to both shock and make her audience laugh, yes of course. Is she right about some of it, sure she is. Does she have any idea about what she is taking about, no she doesn’t.

Let me explain. When I talk about my experience with choosing to vaccinate my child, I am speaking from experience. I was there when he spiked 103-104 fevers every single time he got vaccinated. I sat through his screaming, his pain, and his being uncomfortable for days after. I read the books, the articles, listened to the debate and then talked to my doctor about our choices. I didn’t jump on some fad band wagon and just say, “Hey, I’m going to go against the recommended vaccines that may save my son’s life and do what I want.” It was not an easy decision.

But it was my decision, made WITH my doctor. We changed my son’s timeline and spaced out his vaccines, where some he gets on time, others he gets at the very end of the timeline. We go sometimes three times in a year to get him vaccinated. We opted to leave out some, like the vaccination shots for STD’s until he is older. His doctor and I have discussed this at great lengths, and I am comfortable with my choice.

I watch my friends argue this out time and again, and hear their frustrations and fears.  They are not uneducated about the issues or the concerns of the public. Ms. Ioffe’s comments about these parents and the vaccine debate like:

Led by discredited doctors and, incredibly, a former Playmate, the movement has frightened new parents with claptrap about autism, Alzheimer’s, aluminum, and formaldehyde. The movement that was once a fringe freak show has become a menace, with foot soldiers whose main weapon is their self-righteousness. For them, vaccinating their children is merely a consumer choice, like joining an organic food co-op or sending their kids to a Montessori school or drinking coconut water.

are both callous and rude. The assumption is that these parents are jumping on some health bandwagon lead by idiots.

Within the Sensory and ASD communities you hear this fight over and over. People are judged for vaccinating on time, using an alternate path, not vaccinating at all, and the debate is never nice. I do not shy away from debate, but when I hear this conversation start, I tend to go the other way. But when people who have no experience with being a parent start insulting our choices, I will jump right in.

So, to answer the question Ms. Ioffe posed in her article:

Carry your baby around in a sling, feed her organic banana mash while you drink your ethical coffee, fine, but what gives you denialists the right to put my health at risk—to cause me to catch a debilitating, humiliating, and frightening cough that, two months after I finished my last course of antibiotics (how’s that for supporting big pharma?), still makes me convulse several times a day like some kind of tragic nineteenth-century heroine?

The truth Ms. Ioffe is that I never thought I would be the parent I am today. I expected to tuck my son into his crib on night one, had no idea what a baby sling was, or why people make their own baby food when I got pregnant. Being a mother changes you. Your child has needs that do not meet your expectations. So yes, he co-slept with us and I breastfed him until he was 16 months, and carried him in a sling or my arms even longer. Yes, I made his baby food, and didn’t give him cow’s milk until after he was a year old. And yes, I debated the vaccination schedule proposed by our doctor. What gives me the right to do this? First of all, because we live in a free society, which means that the rights of the few outweigh the rights of the many. We have the freedom of choice in this country. And while other countries, such as Great Britain, have already removed harmful chemicals like Red Dye #40 and reduced high fructose corn syrup in their products, we tend to lag behind when it comes to these issues. So when a parent is making their decisions, they have a lot of factors to consider. We are making the best choice we can for ourselves and our families. Why not try presenting the facts in some way that is not attacking these parents? Maybe instead of assuming we are all morons following some fad, talk to us like we are actually intelligent adults trying to make the best decision.

I know, being nice and fair doesn’t get you as many hits on your blog or articles. Yes, you are angry since you have been exposed to a rather unpleasant disease and likely due to decreased vaccinations. Understanding is the key to this issue though. What makes this debate so difficult on many parents is the responsibility for another’s life. Until you watch your sweet child disappear in front of your eyes, and go from doctor to doctor looking for answers and trying to determine where you have gone wrong and wondering what you did to cause this change in your child, you cannot understand the complexities in this decision. Your experience is not the experience many of these families have had. I hope that you never know the pain that comes with having your child diagnosed with a life changing disorder. Until you have been there, you cannot even begin to understand the fear and the frustration that comes from finding out your child is different.

For those of us who have lived through it, we know how difficult it is. I wouldn’t change anything about my son; much of his amazing comes from him seeing the world differently. I do not regret postponing his MMR at age 3 to age 5. I do not regret vaccinating him either. When I am asked to weigh in on this debate, I answer from my personal experience. I let my friends and family know that I do not believe in the one size fits all vaccination schedule. I believe you should space them out so as to not give so many vaccines in a single visit, and that some should be held off as long as possible. I tell them to research it, talk to their doctor and to make the decision best for them. I also tell them there are other factors to consider, like if the child is at daycare, they have a higher risk of getting ill and getting others ill, and they need to consider these in their decision. I wish I could point them to articles that are full of good writing and good solid facts showing both sides of the argument. Unfortunately, there are none. The articles out there are full of derogatory commentary on both sides and always attacking someone. I would love to see this debate become one we could discuss openly and honestly, without it being such a heated issue. For now I suppose, vaccine is sill going to be a 4 letter word.     


A mile in their shoes

When we want to express the difficulties of understanding what someone else's life may be like, we use a rather specific colloquialism. "Walk a mile in their shoes." I used to wonder where the expression came from, why it was said that way. The truth is, there are many sources and versions out there. Native American Indians, to Jesus have been credited with similar sayings and it is found in multiple cultures. However, the saying never had such meaning until I became a mother. If you want to know what its like to be a sensory kid, you would have to try and live a day in their life and gain some perspective.

Here is where the saying gains such a strong meaning in my life. My son is very tactile sensitive to soft touches, something I actually sympathize with. To this day, if I have a sock with a seam in it and it touches my toe, it drives me crazy. My son inherited this issue as one of his sensory issues. His feet, are one of his biggest issue areas, so his shoes hold great meaning in his day. 

Imagine your clothing tag, your socks rubbing your feet wrong, the smallest thing affecting your ability to think properly. It is difficult to even begin to imagine what a day in their life would be like. A day where small things we don't even notice, or see can affect you. 

So, how would you walk a mile in the shoes of a child with sensory issues? 

You would have to start by adding 3 pebbles in your sock and then putting on your shoes. You can't take them off all day. Then add some burlap to your clothing tag so it touches your skin. No removing it either. Last you'll need to get some ambient crowd and street noises on a CD or MP3 player and listen with headphones on, volume up to about the middle level. No matter what you do all day, you must leave the volume on.

Then  you must do everything you normally do in your day. You must go about your day without turning off, or removing these 3 things. You must also behave like everyone else, no outbursts about how annoying the pebbles are, or how it's hard to hear your boss over the loud cars. You must act as if these things to do not exist, because they only affect you, and no one else. 

You have now experienced about 20% of what these kids are expected to deal with every day. At the end of the day, how good do you think you'd feel? Would you be agitated, irritated, angry and just plain exhausted? How easy would it be to breakdown and cry, or yell? How easy would that mile be to walk?

It's not easy to be sensory in a world full of overstimulation and with an abundance of sensory input. These kids need compassion and understanding. Will you walk a mike in their shoes, or look the other way?


It's a Brand New Day

I realize I have not posted in quite a while. I had to have surgery on my back and that initially prevented me from computer time. And while the iPad is handy for many things, blogging on the iPad and I did not get along. I will post on some of the things we have overcome, the trial we have had and the things i could not post in my long departure. For now I want to post on what is to come.

My Boy is about to start school, officially, in a little over two weeks. Let me be clear. This is not Pre-K. We have been doing that all year...No. This is Kindergarten in a public school. I am excited for him, and nervous. I am confident, and worried. I am a basket full of conflicting emotions that typically do not stop. At some point, after a glass of wine, and perhaps a well deserved vacation I will tell the story of what can happen to a child with Sensory issues in a class with a teacher who has no understanding, empathy or willingness to work with just such a child. That day is not today. Just know, in the back of this story, just like in the back of my head, there has been a a teacher who changed my son's generally good disposition and ability to do well in almost all situations into someone else.

This issue of course amps the fears all mothers have for their children before starting school: What if the teacher and him don't get along?

There has also been the most amazing Pre-K teacher we could have ever hoped for. We moved schools due to Teacher Who Shall Not Be Named (yes, we call her this) and lucked in to the best teacher ever, Ms. Stephanie. She worked with me to learn what he was like before meeting him. She called me when she needed new ideas, or had issues. She went out of her way to make his experience with Pre-K an amazing one and as a result he blossomed beyond anyone's expectations but his mother's. I know how capable and amazing he is. But I also know how hard she had to work to understand him and to help him to get there. She was like family for him.

This shows me what an exceptional teacher can accomplish in a school year. She gives me hope.

Right now I am working on helping next year be just as amazing for him. I am working with the school to help not only place him with the best fit for him as a teacher, but also to give them the same tools I was able to give his last teacher. My hope is that his new teacher accepts it and makes it her own as Ms. Stephanie did. I know the school he is going to has a great reputation and that also gives me hope. My Boy is exceptionally smart, but easily distracted, hyperactive and fidgety. There are things that will make him uncomfortable that other kids don't even notice. I worry how he will fit in and adapt, but I also know he is strong and capable. My worries are the same as all mothers when sending their baby to school for the first time. So I take a deep breath, stop, and remind myself of all we have overcome and all we have learned. I look to the future, to the new school and the new teacher and I think; It's a brand new day, in a brand new world and he'll be fine.


Patience is a virtue, but relaxing is a Mother's necessity

Friends and family are often impressed with the level of patience I have. The irony is, it's a life necessity for me. When my son is driving me crazy with his slow movement, and he can't do anything without a certain ritual occurring, I'm not allowed to get upset or stressed. When he pitches a fit because the server is trying to refill his empty glass that he wants filled, I can't get frustrated or force him. For me, calm is my necessary state of survival. When things go crazy, I have always been calm. Now I'm not saying I don't yell or get mad. Sometimes I just can't help it. But, when things get tough, I'm the calm in the eye of the storm.

I'm not sure if I was always this way, but I can tell you when I knew I reacted to stress differently. My mother was having surgery, I was 15, and I was in school for a test while she was in the hospital. The surgery didn't go as expected, and my father was distraught. They're was a serious complication that made the surgery very difficulty. I got me and a friend out of school, to the hospital and contacted my grandmother. Mind you, this was in the days of pagers and pay phones. Everyone else was unsure what to do, but I never panicked. It was then I realized I was good in a crisis.

I sometimes wonder if God gave me my son because of this skill. He is the biggest test of calm and patience. Most of the time, the things that would frustrate others go unnoticed by me. On a bad day, one where I've had stress or I'm overtired, I often feel myself forcing the calm in me. Then I have moments of, Really! Really? Just one little break, please. We all need a break sometimes. I'm blessed with loving family who adores my son, and that takes the pressure off so I can recharge.

Recently however, school has become just the break I need. My son has always loved school, but he had trouble with many of the activities. Some solutions were simple, like the school he's in doesn't require him to take his shoes off. Others were sheer moments of genius. Like his new Cars blankie to help soothe him since he can't take in his actual Cars. The added bonus was it helped him get rid of his Paci permanently. His improvements in his ability to handle his SPD on his own have led to the biggest and best improvements.

When my son goes to school now, it's a joy. He wakes up and not only wants to go, but rushes to go. He laughs and smiles going into the room, and he no longer hides behind my leg. It's great to see him so excited about it. I love when I pick him up and he tells me all about his day. It's a great moment. The best part is that it gives me time to relax and regroup. I get stressed and frustrated much less often now. One of our stressors was getting him to school, and now he asks if he can go on his days off! It's a great change in our life. As a mom with extra stress, like having to keep track of every car my son cares about (which is WAY too many), and who needs to fix every boo boo and solve every problem, this is a Godsend. Now I can be 110% when I pick him up, so I can focus that energy on important things. Important things like the next hurdle we face, potty training...

Wish me luck, I think I'll need it.


How do I help my son with his SPD?

Therapy is crucial in dealing with SPD. Sensory issues are not known to improve with medication, and yes, an all natural organic diet can help, but it won’t cure it. The therapy is not like talk therapy, and it’s not done by a psychologist. Instead, an occupational therapist with specialized training does sensory integration therapy. A lot of it can be taught to parents, and your "homework" as the parent is to continue the therapy at home. The sensory integration (therapy) that a child needs is often referred to as a sensory diet. Like many people who are on a specific diet plan for food, these kids need specific work on certain areas of their senses.

What this has meant for me is a lot of seemingly odd things. Caleb has tactile under and over sensitivity, so he both craves touch (deep pressure) while light touches can be serious annoyances. We use a surgical hand brush (for cleaning the hands and nails) to brush his skin. His arms, legs and back specifically. Belly and head would be off limits because these areas are easily over stimulated and can irritate him. You can only move in a downward motion for the same reason, and absolutely no crossing the spine to avoid any overstimulation. It all seems easy, but try brushing a kid’s skin who despises light touch. Our first few times he got so upset I thought I’d never get through it all. That’s just one exercise too; I had at least 5 others at a time.

Sometimes I find myself laughing at how ridiculous it all sounds. And then I see the changes in my kid. The crazy, Tasmanian devil who used to screech down my house while tearing it apart, is now replaced by my calm Caleb. That's how you know it works, because you see it, you live it. In fact, Caleb now brings me his brush. We take turns, because he likes to brush mommy. He always gets the most turns though. A year ago this didn’t even seem like a possibility, and now it’s a cherished activity in our day. So, here are some fun, but effective things we do in the course of day.

The first is his heavy work to wear him down, because he is sensory seeking (i.e., hyperactive) especially if he gets bored. I love to get him moving things around the house because he likes it, and it’s great for this. So I "rearrange" things like chairs, or small tables for different activities throughout the day. He moves the items around, which helps him focus for the activity (like coloring or drawing, whatever he’s in the mood for). Then he moves them back when we’re done. He also does wheel barrels through the house, where someone holds your legs, and you walk on your hands. This all helps him use up the excess energy that turns him into a little Tasmanian Devil.

I’ve already mentioned the brushing, which is tactile. He has other things that help him with this too. He’s deep pressure craving in addition to sensitive to touch so I try and combine the therapy into one task. We have a little critter that vibrates, and they are awesome at helping with this. I turn it on and rub his arms and legs, giving him a massage. Sometimes he does it himself. This actually gets the touch sensitive stimuli, helping to decrease his sensitivity while meeting his deep pressure needs. I like to meet his deep pressure needs because otherwise I’m going to be attacked by a hurdling Caleb trying to hug me, followed by a head butt or five trying to get his this need met. I have a lot less bruises and bloody lips thanks to this technique. An FYI for other possible SPD mommies: If you notice your child may be sensory sensitive, don’t teach them to do Eskimo kisses, or kiss their feet. These normally fun mommy activities can become very dangerous when you have an SPD child. I can’t tell you how many “I Love You Mommy” expressions come in the form of a foot to my teeth or a head to my nose.  

Caleb enjoying Listening Therapy
Another therapy we use I found a few months ago. I know Caleb has auditory issues, and was certain he had a central auditory processing issue. For those who have no idea what that is, this is what allows you to hear the conversation at your table in a busy, loud restaurant. If you could not do this, all the noises would be equal, and you would not be able to filter out what is important from what is not. It also allows you to turn down the noise, keeping it from overwhelming you. So, for Caleb, it would over stimulate him immediately, leading to instant Tasmanian Devil behavior, coupled with meltdowns and extreme reactions. I found out about Listening Therapy. This has made the largest improvements in Caleb. These special tapes help target specific behaviors using something similar to hypnosis, while also helping the ears develop and strengthen so that the child can process noises appropriately. There are still places that are just too loud, but he does much better when he has to go to any of them. Plus it helped tackle some of the harder sensory issues, like body awareness. It’s a great addition to occupational therapy and a sensory diet.

There is so much more to Caleb’s sensory diet and therapy. This is just a sampling of some things we do. I may do a day in the sensory life post in the future, but for now I wanted you all to have an understanding of what a sensory diet may be like. I also wanted you to know that some of it can be easy and fun. To be honest, most of his sensory diet activities are things he loves to do now, and like a reward for him. It’s ironic since these are actually work activities to help him overcome the challenges of being a sensory sensitive child. It wasn’t overnight, but we are proof that these things can become a fun and easy part of your life. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, it may be a faint light, or a long tunnel, but I promise it’s there.


Airport Anxiety No More!

Have you ever tried flying with a toddler? The idea of doing it brings panic to most parents. Now imagine navigating this already difficult and stressful situation with a child who has hurdles at every stop. That is what I recently faced with my three year old son who has SPD. My one advantage in this is that I have flown a lot. So I developed a plan to navigate this situation. I knew where our biggest issues would be and what the most likely meltdowns would be about.

Except that there's no way to predict what will set him off in new places. My son has huge issues with transitions, so big changes mean new conflicts. I decided to make sure I had our trusty iPad, his pillow and blanket and a few toys for the actual flight. This means less transition and it’s also a good distraction from the surroundings and any possible sensory issues. I also knew I'd need a stroller to get him through the airport. I put on his crocs in case they made him take his shoes off so it'd be quick and easy. I brought his favorite foods and drinks; anything to make it easier on us.

What I forgot about was having to get the stroller onto the belt for the security check while hanging on to him. I didn't think about how fast they move you through. It was a struggle. They of course made us take off our shoes and I prayed he wouldn't meltdown. His feet are one of his most sensitive tactile areas and removing his shoes used to cause severe tantrums of drastic proportions. Luckily I got them off and was able to keep him calm while his shoes disappeared down the belt. He was clearly upset and thus began Super Clingy Boy.

This is what my son becomes when he doesn't meltdown, but is clearly having a sensory response he can't ignore. He grabs on to my hand like his life depends on it and I know what is coming next. "Up mommy, up," he almost whispers it because he’s so nervous. The crowd is getting to him now that he's out of the security and confinement of his stroller. I pick him up without any thought and start to go through the rest of security.

The TSA agent on my side of the metal detector smiles sympathetically at me. I notice she's staring at his paci. I wanted to stop all pacifier use at three, but the flight was only a week after his birthday and this process would be much harder without his trusty paci. It's not just comfort for him. It fills a sensory seeking need that helps decrease his hyperactivity and distractibility and increases his concentration. I wouldn't have dreamed of attempting this trip without it. She asks how old he is, partly because of the pacifier and partly because he is the size of a five year old. When I say three she comments the same as everyone does, no one believes his age based on his size.

I just barely notice any of it because this happens at least once a day. I ask if I can go through with him the way he is and she nods. As we go through the detector the agent on the other side says nothing. After we start to pass her and grab our stuff she tells me, "No, no. He is way too big for you to do that. He has to walk through." At this point I'm freaked because setting him down is a huge risk. I tell her he's probably not going to walk on his own. I can tell the people behind us are getting irritated. It's at times like these when I wish people knew what SPD was, and what it meant.  This is where people with more known disabilities or disorders have an advantage. None of this matters at the moment because I know I have to keep calm or he will freak out.

I set him down and tap his nose so he knows to keep eye contact with me while I talk. I can't break his gaze or he won't hear me in someplace like this. I tell him I'm gonna walk through first and he's gonna follow, but I'll be with him the whole time. I walk in backwards secretly hoping he freaks out to teach the agent a lesson, but I don't have time for it either. I smile and talk to him and he walks through with little duress. For anyone else this was merely an annoyance. It would have been tallied on the not so great experiences and then they would’ve moved on. It was a very stressful three minutes, such a brief moment to cause one so much stress. But it was also a huge success. My son made it through multiple stressors where only one could've made this a terrible experience. He successfully pushed through the hurdles and made it across the finish line. It wasn't perfect, but it was a long way from where I was just a few months ago.

Caleb on the plane
I would’ve never dreamed of trying this last year. Just getting out of the house was an extreme challenge. Today however, my son and I can manage even the most stressful situations for him. We had a few more bumps when the plane was delayed taking off and when he had to sit for the landing. None were nearly as bad as going through security though. It was even easier on the flight coming home, even security was easier. He had gone through it once, so he was more prepared for all it. I know we have struggles, and I know we have so much to learn together, but I also know anything is possible. Nothing is off limits. I look forward to all of the places he and I will go. I look forward to watching my son take flight and soar.


Summer Highs and Woes.....

Summer has always been a time of year that I look forward to. The sweltering heat in July and August, not so much. Having a child has changed so much in my life, but Sensory Processing Disorder for us means that season changes can be difficult. Like transitions, weather change can upset, or overload my son's system. Winter and Summer being the most severe changes, and thus the most severe reactions. But summer, and summer in the south....there is nothing like it.

Summer in Georgia is what I imagine hell to be like. Hot and sticky to the point where moving causes severe distress. Plus with the wonderful pollen and crazy storms of spring leading up to it, it's like someone yelling at you; "Are you nuts? Take the hint, move already!" and then the summer heat hits and it's too late to do anything. Living in the south from spring to summer is kind of like riding a roller coaster. There's a lot of ups and downs. I really love where I live most of the time, but our weather is like a cruel joke. Sunny, beautiful and a breezy 70 degrees, then sweltering and humid, then rainy, then so much pollen you'd think we painted our cars yellow. It's a lot to get used to for anyone.

Then there are kids like my son. Kids who are overwhelmed but these changes. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is worse for my son's behavior than heat. Not only do I have to worry about keeping him cool because he doesn't know to stop playing to cool down, or get some water.I also have to worry about the heat and his mood. Caleb always got cranky when summer heat hit. Night terrors were triggered in the winter at our coldest and in the summer heat waves. After his second birthday, when I was trying to put together what was going on with Caleb, I noticed a weather pattern. I realized that his severe tantrum behavior the previous year was primarily in July. This was June, and the same thing was happening. I walked over to the A/C unit and turned it down 2 degrees. It was a test, and sure enough. Caleb's mood shifted. He was grumpy but consolable. It wasn't a solid answer, but it was a clue.

In August we decided to head to Orlando for some fun and sun. I had a good idea from the OT that he had SPD by this point, but nothing definite, and no therapy had been started but my own based on reading. It was a very difficult trip. He was only happy in the pool. The rest of the time I spent trying to keep him calm, or he was having tantrum after tantrum. We couldn't even eat out. When his father and I had taken him to Pensacola in May it was similar to this behavior, but the trip in August was more intense. He was so overloaded by the heat that any stimulus set him off. His clothes had to sit just right, his socks couldn't rub his feet. Every single thing had the potential to set him off. It was very stressful.

While it sounds like we had a horrible time, we didn't. It was a lot of work, but I learned so much too. The water is great for therapy. Not only does it get him working all his muscles, which helps with both under and over sensitivity, it keeps him cool. I learned how best to help him when he's so overloaded as well. I found a way through the confusion of what was ailing m y son, and into a world of understanding. I get why he is so upset when he can't cool off, because he doesn't know how to communicate or solve this problem. He has to rely on us to figure it all out. Imagine how frustrated you'd be in the same situation. Imagine you didn't know to get in a cold shower or bath, or to turn up the air, or sit by a vent, or that you couldn't even tell anyone what was going on. It would be difficult on anyone, but for a two year old, it's unbearable.

Now I understand, and I use the same instincts that lead me to finding out my son had SPD to help me figure out what is affecting him. He can communicate his wants and needs better, and not always with words, and that helps. The hard work has paid off by leaps and bounds. I know my son, and I use that to guide me. When I see him getting overwhelmed, I know that sitting under or next to a vent of cool air will help calm him faster, even when he's not really hot. Why? Probably because getting upset heats your body, but also because it has a soothing effect on his system. I rock him because it helps us both. I talk to him when I can, but sometimes that causes more overload, so I also know the beauty of silence.

I see my son using these techniques on his own now. Even at school they tell me he does many of these things to calm himself. I use corners to redirect him, to help him focus on getting calm. This is not like a time out punishment. He can have a blanket, or toy, or I may lay down with him while he's there. It's just a way for him to realize and find a way to calm himself down. Many SPD families have a cool dark place just for this. It'll have soothing items like plush pillows, calming music, it;s a hide away space. We haven't had the ability to do this yet, but the concept is the same. He will tell me or the other adults around him that he needs to go to a corner, or he'll just do it. When he feels better, he comes out. It is such a rewarding feeling to know that I've helped him find his way through this confusion and he's come through the other side. It's even more rewarding to see him skyrocket past all of this to great success. He is bright and friendly, empathetic and loving, he takes care of others around him, and all the other kids love him. He's quiet, but funny and he knows what he likes. The school, IEP and our family are all extremely happy with his success. He still has work to do, and I still have things to learn, but I look forward to this summer, despite that knowledge that it'll bring some challenges with my son's behavior. I hope that we all learn as much, of not more, from each experience as we have in the past. I am not afraid, and am always hopeful. So summer, here we come!