Monday, May 10, 2010

But She's So Smart, and so Special

Yes, there has been a long long silence here and I could provide a long detailed explanation of the financial and personal and professional crises that have resulted in my absence here (some of them still on-going), but that would just depress everyone. 

So, moving right along (to a rant of sorts--how unsurprising)...

Our youngest daughter is being treated for sensory processing dysfunction, which is not to be confused with sensory processing disorder, a lifelong condition.  She has particular kinds of developmental delays that may "correct" themselves as her nervous system develops, and occupational therapy is being employed to give her some strategies to deal with the delays until then.

This sounds perfectly reasonable to me (clearly, since we trek to and pay for OT every week), but I have been amazed, and annoyed, at how unreasonable this sounds to other people.  Admittedly, other people don't live with Cate.  They aren't up with her at 3 in the morning because she can't sleep until she's read all the books in the room or she's weeping because she's listened to Springsteen's version of "We Shall Overcome" five times in a row and it's made her sad.  Other people don't have to deal with the anxiety caused when we park the car in a different spot or we insist she wear weather appropriate clothes.  Or the fear we have that she will leave the house in the middle of the night or walk off at soccer because she's trying to get to a place where she feels less "crazed" up.  When other people see Cate, they see a happy, healthy, smart goofy kid who is slightly "out of sync."  All kids have their quirks.  We all feel "crazed up" some times, they say.

Well, yeah, but also no, not at all.  What would be nice is a little faith that I'm not making these things up, that I'm not overprotective and paranoid, that I know my kid better than other people.  It would be nice if people stopped insisting "but she's so smart, I'm sure she'll be fine," and started celebrating the fact that there's a professional out in the world who has been able to figure out that Cate feels less "crazed up" when she literally gets to hang up side down or get a big bear hug or fall down from something.  It would be nice for people to acknowledge that being able to read at 2 and add at four doesn't guarantee life success, especially if you're terrified of the PBS logo or the computer screen suddenly turning blue when it comes on.

Other people tell me Cate is special.  They mean, "yeah she's a little weird, leave her alone."  My reply is this:  She is special, more special than other people can even comprehend.  And it would be a shame to let some of the things that make her special limit all the things she might be and accomplish in the world.


Alison said...

There are some incredible therapies out there, and if they work for your daughter, I say hell yeah! Embrace them whatever way works for you--quietly or enthusiastically or resistantly or whatever.

I think people in the world with the kindest hearts and the best of intentions have a hard time knowing what to say or how to react to kids who have different kinds of challenges. And it can be hard and painful even though they're often just trying to be supportive in the way they know how. I hear you.

Anonymous said...

Experiencing the same thing with my son right now ... different issues, but same experiences with well meaning friends and co-workers. It's hard when your kid has issues that the world doesn't see. Thank you for your post.