Having a child with a Sensory Processing Disorder can be challenging. There are so many different "sensory diets", and each child is different in what they need, crave, and struggle with. Often times, Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs) co-occur with other special needs. Some children have a difficult time with loud noises. Some children crave it. Some don't like certain textures on their hands, mouth or on their body. Others love it. Bright lights can be super overwhelming for one child, while another struggles with dark areas. There's no one size fits all when it comes to the sensory needs of a child.
My son Pierce has a little friend named Elena, whose mama is my best friend. Elena has Down Syndrome. Pierce has a sensory processing disorder and is extremely delayed with his speech. Both Elena and Pierce have an older sister and those two girls are best friends. So basically, we're all a bunch of little BFF's. Going out into places with a child with different sensory needs is difficult. It's a hard world to navigate as a child AND a parent. The lights, sounds, smells, movements - all of it can become super overwhelming to a Neurotypical child. It can become unbearable to a child with sensory needs, and often leads to a release of emotions.
Screaming on the floors of brightly lit grocery stores. Holding their ears shrieking in the bathroom when the hand dryer goes off.
Struggling and crying while picking at their socks, tags and clothing on their skin. As a parent you constantly worry about judgmental glances. Snarky remarks. Annoyed faces. Why?
Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs) are “invisible” to the public eye in the sense that many afflicted with SDPs look normal - just like you and me.
When my friend and I went to the Aquarium at Fort Fisher - an aquarium local to our town in coastal NC - we were excited! Little did we know our excitement would turn into such joy from one simple act. An act of awareness and acceptance.
We were handed this sensory bag made by Kulture City. Kulter City is a company that is "Rethinking Accessibility - To create acceptance and inclusion for all individuals with unique abilities." Their sensory bags included: Noise canceling headphones Feelings and Cue cards for those that are non-verbal Fidget Items A special lanyard
The bags were free for us - and any other aquarium visitor - to use while there.
I feel the tides changing, y'all. I feel hope, and excitement that so many more businesses and individuals are becoming aware, and embracing acceptance of ALL individuals.
Kulter City put it wonderfully in a video where they said:
"Acceptance is proactive. Acceptance is liberating and it's powerful ... Acceptance needs to change into inclusion. We needed a way to reunite families back into the community ... We need a movement to empower families, to reunite communities, and to see the potential in every single child."