Monday, January 29, 2007

Sense and Sensibility

It was 27 degrees Fahrenheit outside the other day, and my son opened up the back door and ran outside barefoot, and in a short-sleeved shirt. (Yes, he had pants on). He didn't seem to notice the cold. I stood by the back door, holding it open, figuring he'd jet back inside quickly. After a couple of minutes, since he didn't seem to be personally motivated to return to the warmth of his house, I brought him inside. He was not happy with me; he wanted to stay outside and play.

This is one of the curiosities that Z (my husband) and I have noticed about A: as sensitive as his sense of touch is, sometimes he seems to -- somehow -- shut off his nerves. We assume this is a coping strategy. Initial things that used to drive him crazy as a newborn were being held and cuddled, the little seam on the toes of his socks. And temperature changes, hats, wind, dirtying his diaper, having his diaper changed, the list goes on. Then he abruptly stopped the screaming; it was like a switch had been thrown. But he no longer cared if he was cold, hot, or had poopy pants.

A still doesn't seem to notice if it's really hot or really cold. He could be wearing a wool sweater in the middle of July, or a swimsuit in the dead of winter and he wouldn't care. (He'd be a great candidate for the Polar Bear Club if he ever learns how to swim!) He also gives no indication that he's gone to the bathroom. A is still in diapers; all potty training attempts thus far have failed miserably. And messily. I have to check him regularly, since he will not tell me when he's voided. If I get sidetracked by housework, the dog, his sister, etc, I will suddenly notice that his pants are suspiciously droopy, or bulging to the rear with what appears to be a softball stuffed down the back of his pants. You'd think that would be uncomfortable, right? A just continues doing whatever he's doing at the moment, it doesn't even faze him. I know that some kids who continuously have to sit in dirty diapers develop a tolerance for it, but this is not the case with A. His diapers were/are always changed with regularity; having "softball pants" is not a common occurrence.

This not telling us is very frustrating for Z and I, but we do understand that it's just part of what A's dealing with. There are times when I just don't handle the frustration as well as I should, though; I do get disgusted with some of the diapers. I don't get mad at my son, but I am still sometimes not in the best frame of mind when it comes to the diaper issue. We are in the process of learning some new techniques that (we're hoping and praying) will do the trick of potty training him. We also realize that he's not quite 3 1/2, and that some kids take longer to potty train than others.

There are a few things that still disturb his sense of touch. Coats, for example. He has had tantrums every year when he has to start wearing coats again, ostensibly because he's not used to them. This year, we're finally past the fits and he just whines and tries to remove the offending apparel. Every day. This aversion includes the snazzy little corduroy sport coat my mother sent at Christmas, and raincoats. We're quite sure A will one day remember how to make zippers function (he used to do it all the time), but for now they effectively keep his jacket on. He also intensely dislikes his backpack for school. I'm pretty sure that the correct grammatical forms of "pure hatred" could be used interchangeably with "intense dislike" in the prior sentence. And every time we get new shoes for him, if they feel different on his feet he will cry and be very upset for a few days (whenever he has to wear them). It takes a few days for him to get used to them, and then he's fine.

A still doesn't like hats very much. He really doesn't like anything touching his head, as a general rule. Washing his hair and giving him a haircut are two events that are just TONS of fun for everyone involved. I have been sorely tempted to duct tape my son to the chair during the latter. I never will, of course, but it sure is fun to consider when in the throes of a particularly loud haircutting session. Just being honest! As humans we tend to "put our best face forward" and always say "fine" whenever anyone asks how we are, even if we're not. And most of us would never admit to harboring fantasies of, say, ditching the entire family and going to spend a week in [insert exotic location here or duct-taping our offspring to a chair. And then shake our heads, smile ruefully, and get back into the activity at hand, whether that be folding socks or cutting your kiddo's hair. But I admit that I do on occasion.... [remove soapbox]


Tricia M said...

Hey, Jenn. Hang in there. Suggestion on the potty training: My autistic child I work with was not potty trained until this last summer around his 5th birthday. His mother learned to have him hold onto the toilet seat. This helps with aim!! It works with him at school. Need to talk I am here anytime.

Anonymous said...

Jen, this was a really interesting post to read because several things rang true with my kids. First, I didn't even bother trying to potty train till after 3. I figured when they were ready they would be ready. Lib has the same issue with food textures and still won't wear clothes with tags, he use to fuss about the sock thing, and the haircut thing, good grief, there is a reason he has long hair trust me! The tag thing we have been told has to do with sensory integration issues, and every child I know that has this also has horrible handwriting like Liberty does. Seneca didn't have those issues. Interesting. You might like to hear this story, Drew came out of the boys bathroom and told his mom that "he went potty like a big boy!" Luke just looked at him and said,"I go potty like a man." :)Peggy