Posts Tagged ‘sensory issues’

Two Momentous Years

November 15, 2015

Two years. In adult terms, two years is nothing. And then you have children. And, though they fly by, two years and the development that occurs within them are momentous. These past two years have been momentous.

Where were we two years ago this November? I had a one and four year old. I was working half time- my dream job, striking a balance between the role of mother that I adored playing and the role of teacher of young children. The mother role allowed me to spend time with my thriving, spirited boys, arranging playdates, spending extra time cuddling, making messes in the kitchen cooking pancakes together in the late morning, and cooking, cleaning and running errands during the day in order to keep the home running efficiently and effectively. The teacher role allowed me to have my own space to create and cultivate my craft,  helping students grow as readers and writers, and interacting with peers and colleagues, brainstorming how we could improve and reach students even better.  Two and a half days of each, plus the weekend with my family. What could be better? What could be more perfect?

But I was concerned. Concerned about Rocketman’s (then 4) development. His sensory issues. Fine motor. Gross motor. Speech. And, while my concerns had been mounting for two previous years, the medical community in which he was involved finally took my them seriously and sent him for evaluation.

This time two years ago, Rocketman’s OT evaluations came in. And they were not pretty. Sensory seeking behaviors combined with sensory avoidance. Weak core resulting in developmentally delayed gross motor skills. Weak left side of body. Delayed fine motor skills. He could not draw a picture beyond a circle. He could not copy shapes. He could not stand on his left foot from kneeling without falling down. He could not run down a soccer field and keep up with his peers. But the most alarming thing of all was that he could not function in his Pre-K classroom because he was so overstimulated. And he would completely shut down. And I was supposed to send him to kindergarten in a year. And he wouldn’t be ready for the developmentally inappropriate content that kindergarten currently offers. And that’s when my third role began: the role of parental advocate for my child who officially had special needs.

My previously designated playdate Mondays were now designated for speech therapy in the middle of the morning. Right at the point that the one year old toddler would be ready for a nap and grow manic, running through the hallways of the school while the school staff looked on disapprovingly and I wrangled him apologetically for the thirty minutes that Rocketman received therapy.

Tuesdays I took Rocketman to pre-k, checking in with his amazingly gifted teacher to see what kind of progress he was making coping in the classroom and learning that the progress was slow. Then I would run errands with Bubba or take him to music class and really get to enjoy my “Mommy” role…until 12:30, at which point I would again put on my parental advocate hat and pick up Rocketman from Pre-K. Bubba would go down for a nap and at-home therapy for Rocketman would begin. His home sensory diet. Fine motor manipulating beans, heavy work, usually a “project” consisting of sensory friendly materials. Then a balancing course. Mommy and Rocketman yoga. Heavy pressure. Brushing protocol. Brushing protocol. Brushing protocol. And then Bubba would wake up. And I would attempt to make dinner while he tore my house apart. And then Rocketman would eat dinner, getting every bit of food all over his face and drool. And I would be ready to go to work the following day.

Wednesdays and Thursdays were my days. Where I would work with kids and colleagues and focus my creative juices on working to become a better teacher every day.

Fridays I worked until 12 and then picked up Rocketman while Bubba napped at his one day of daycare and I brought Rocketman to one on one OT therapy.

Saturdays and Sundays I spent time with family and prayed all of our work with Rocketman would adequately prepare him for kindergarten. But knew he wasn’t ready.

And so the battle began to get Rocketman on an IEP for his sensory, fine motor and gross motor issues and to allow him another year in pre-k to be able to receive therapy in a developmentally appropriate setting. And, what a battle it was.

Our victory began another year of therapies, evaluations, sensory diets and brushing. But this time the progress wasn’t so slow. Instead, Rocketman was growing leaps and bounds. And this time, when kindergarten registration came around, we knew he was ready.

So here we are. A new year. A new school. A new and improved kid. And a new IEP meeting to discuss what should and should not be included in his new IEP.

The teachers think he’s fabulous. He’s so smart. So verbal. So funny. And he is for sure! And I’m so glad that they see and appreciate that. But I warn them. He had trouble focusing. He couldn’t function in a classroom. He ran out of theaters. He. Melted. Down. But, they don’t see it in school. They would never have guessed had I not shared that.

At our first IEP meeting at Rocketman’s new school, I heard it all. All the positives. He is thoughtful. Kind. Funny. And what a memory! And what great progress! And just sign here if you agree to the IEP.

And as I read through, I was surprised to see the piece that was missing. The sensory piece. The OT. The therapy. Not there.

“We just don’t see a need for it. If you had not shared his history, we would not have had any clue that that was ever an issue. And if it was, it is certainly not anymore. And if it becomes one then we reconvene the team and add it back in. But for now you should be celebrating. Because he has come this far that it is unnoticeable in the classroom.”

And I wanted to put on the breaks and yell that, “No! You are not seeing it because you choose to not see it! The issues are there! He still sucks his fingers! He puts fluff up his nose! He takes hours and hours to go to sleep and cannot stay asleep for more than 4 hours! He has Special Needs! You need to meet his needs!”

But here is the truth: At the end of his second year of pre-k, his teacher said the same thing. And his occupational therapist. And the speech therapist. And when I had him evaluated at the end of the year last year by an outside occupational therapist, he was assessed as not needing services. And so, really, this was the third time I’d heard this in the past 6 months. My child was no longer considered one with special needs.

And, of course, it was my mother who came to talk me down. “So three groups of people agree. His issues are not hindering his success in the classroom. And that is because: you have already done all the work. All the fighting and early intervention and sensory diets and extra time paid off. And now you are seeing the rewards of your hard work.”

So, then, why can’t I celebrate? Is it because I have lost a part of myself in Rocketman’s success? The parent advocate part? If so, I should simply step off my soapbox and walk away quietly and celebrate in triumph. But, I’m not quite there yet.

Being a parent of a child with special needs is something that one could never understand unless they were to go through it themselves. And, though I’ve considered myself to fit that role for at least the past two years, really I’ve sat on the periphery. My child did not have severe special needs. His services were limited. He was able to do most things his developmentally typical peers could do. He was just not so great at soccer. Or writing. And he’d run out of crowded places screaming. Otherwise, one would never know.

But, I still identified him as a child with special needs. And I still identified myself as a parent of a child with special needs. And I still worried incessantly about his development. And how these needs would affect him as he grew older. Socially. Academically. Emotionally.

And then all of a sudden after two years it’s like: poof! Oh, he’s all set. Totally typical. Issues? Nope. We see none! Time to celebrate!

So I will. In time. With caution. Because, while I really am overjoyed that this child, who took two years to prepare for this moment of entering kindergarten, really is doing so well in this new setting, I can’t look at him without seeing the child that curled into a fetal position and screamed in pain the first time we tried to take him into a small movie theater at 3. The child that fell out of of his chair every single night at dinnertime for the entire year he was 4. The child that needed deep pressure and joint compressions every night in order to go to sleep at 5. The child that sat under a table and wept in his classroom because he was so overwhelmed with the environment and could process so little of it.

He has come so far in two years. I know. But, just as it took time to process that my child had special needs, it may take some time to process that he doesn’t anymore. And when that happens, I will celebrate and rejoice over our grand successes. But for now I will reflect on how much change these past two years have brought and take comfort in my most cherished role of all: mother of a smart, funny, kind and, yeah, super quirky kid that has momentously transformed in the past two years.

Sink Like a Rock, Float Like a Bubble

April 10, 2015

Rocketman has always loved the water. He was born into a family of water-lovers. For one, we live in Rhode Island, a state that despite not being fully surrounded by water, has “island” as part of its name. While dating, Rocketman’s dad and I fell more in love the day that we discovered that we both would rather inspect sea creatures in a cove under a bridge than go out to a fancy dinner. A year before he was born, hubs and I fulfilled a life-long dream by completing a NAUI scuba diving course and earning lifetime scuba certifications. Rocketman was destined to love water.

I signed Rocketman up for swimming lessons when he was 8 months old. While other babies whimpered, cried and expressed fear and distress their first time in the pool, Rocketman had but a moment of concern and confusion before he began splashing, laughing and flipping around in my arms.

From that time forward, as soon as spring came around I would sign Rocketman up for swim again. We continued with Mommy  (or Daddy) and Me classes straight up until I was nine months pregnant with Bubba and stretching out my plus-sized bathing suit so I could catch Rocketman as he slid off a small slide into the pool and jumped off the block into my arms.

Swim ended and baby bootcamp began and chaos ensued. And when Rocketman was three, a magnificent, state of the art YMCA was built the next town over. And we had to check it out.

It was spring, time for swimming lessons. With Bubba in the Ergo on my chest, I strolled into the new Y with Rocketman’s small hand in mine. It was, indeed, state of the art. Modern art hung over our heads from the high ceiling, the adult gym whirred with brand new workout machines, and small cafe tables with brightly colored chairs littered the lobby. But the thing that tore Rocketman’s hand from my grip was the full glass wall that overlooked the swimming pool.

The swimming pool was large, much larger than the one we had used at our previous Y. But the feature attraction was not the pool itself. Bordering the pool, there was a kiddie area featuring a small splash pad. Water poured out of holes in the floor in an arc and sprayed out of a firehydrant and tall happy flower. Waterfalls dripped out of tall poles bent at 90 degree angles above the family swim area of the pool. Children screeched as a bucket that had been slowly filling with water suddenly leaned heavily over, spilling its contents on their heads 10 feet below. Rocketman stood, fixated, with his small hands and the tip of his nose pressing marks on the glass. And then he pointed at the bright red twisty turvy giant water slide in the deep end of the pool.

“Mom! I wanna go there!! I wanna do that!! Can we do that Mom? Now??”

But we couldn’t. Because in order to be allowed access to the giant water slide, one had to swim the width of the family pool and back. And Rocketman was only three. And could not swim.

But he thought he could! On our first day of swimming lessons at the new Y, Rocketman begged the instructor to let him go down the slide. She explained the swim test to him and asked if he would like to try it. I held my tongue and my breath as he splashed into the water with her by his side and sunk like a rock. She retrieved him from the water’s depths unfazed and encouraged him to swim the width of the pool. He did so…with the aid of her hand supporting his belly and propelling him forward. “Did I do it, did I do it??” And his face fell when she told him, no not yet.

With gentle encouragement, I explained that the reason we were taking swimming lessons was so that he could learn to do just that. And with practice and hard work, he would be passing the swim test and tearing down that slide in no time. I predicted six months, which would bring him to four. I was hopeful and he was determined.

And then he was diagnosed with sensory processing issues, low muscle tone and fine and gross motor difficulties. And swimming lessons became a nightmare.

This new pool was so big and beautiful that it drew children of all ages for all types of lessons. During one swim session, there could be at least six lessons going on in different areas of the pool, as well as family swim activities involving the splash pad and waterslide. Screeches of glee mingled with cannonball splashes and instructors’ voices straining to rise above the din. Coupled with the cool wet water covering his sensitive skin, Rocketman went into sensory overload.

Many children with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) will react to overstimulation with either a fight or flight response. Those who have a “fighting” response tend to be seen as behavior problems, bouncing off the walls, yelling, screaming, crying, banging…painfully frustrated about what the bombardment of sights, sounds and touch are doing to their bodies. Rocketman’s typical response was “flight.” Running out of a crowded theater, digging his fingernails into the doorframe to avoid being carried out of the house when there was a fire engine (and therefore potentially loud noise) across the street, or retreating inside himself to a safe place in his mind and looking off unblinking. The later is the way in which he went through his first few swimming lessons at the new Y.

While other kids were splashing, laughing, actively engaged, Rocketman was out in space. The teacher would yell, “When we float, what do we look like?” All the kids would yell, “STARFISH,” and splay their limbs out to the sides. Rocketman’s limbs would remain slack, his eyes floating to the left, unfocused on anything going on in front of him. He would be pulled through the lessons with an instructor at his side, appearing to be barely aware of where he was and why he was there. And I would sit on the bleachers with Bubba in my lap willing him to come back from wherever he was so he could learn and enjoy the experience with his peers.

I did some research. (aka Google searching) Some said that the more SPD kids were exposed to certain stimuli, the more their brains could process the stimuli. And so, painful as it was to watch, I did not give up swimming lessons, and Rocketman did not give up his waterslide dream.

As the sessions progressed, Rocketman seemed to become more aware. Now four and a half, he was gaining confidence and convinced he could swim, though I knew he could not. When it was his turn during lessons, he would hit the water and begin to flap his arms. His mouth would open and his tongue would come out and indescribable noises would emit from his body. Almost like he was blowing an invisible horn with his tongue out. Still clearly overstimulated. But at least he was responding physically in some way…?

And still we continued. Right through the the “turn around phase.” This time, while all other children were focused on the instructors and instructions, Rocketman would turn around, look at me, smile, stick his jaw out and grunt in a sing-songy way. I would spend the lesson mouthing, “Turn around,” and turing my index finger through the air while Bubba laughed and tried to jump out of my arms and join his brother in the bizarro fun.

One day, while Bubba was participating in Waterbabies in another area of the pool with Daddy, I watched as the three instructors took the three other kids in the group and swam toward the center of the pool. Rocketman was left sitting on the side of the pool unattended. I immediately felt uneasy.

Once again, Rocketman turned and looked at me, jaw jutting out, staccato grunts pushing out from his belly. I nervously held up my hand and mouthed, “Stay right there.” Then a wide smile spread across his face and he threw himself off the side of the pool and into the deep water. And, again, sunk like a rock.

I don’t remember flying off the equipment locker I was sitting on. I found myself kneeling at the side of the pool, stretching as far as my body would reach and plunging my hand under the water to grab a small flailing arm. It was as I was pulling a sputtering Rocketman out of the water that the life guard and all 18 swim instructors from the pool closed in on us. That was the day that Rocketman was finally convinced that he couldn’t yet swim, but the sick feeling that I had as I watched him sink has never quite gone away.

Rocketman was full swing into Occupational Therapy at that point. All experts agreed: swimming was great for him! It could aid in self regulation! It taught him where his body was  in space! It engaged all of his muscles that were low in tone and needed to be strengthened. And so we endured the torture until May of his year of four. And then we took the summer off to…swim. In the ocean, at the lake, and in our best friends’ new pool.

And Rocketman turned five. Therapy continued twice a week, but other than that, the summer was laid back, and full of pure childhood outdoor fun. And Rocketman thrived.

Everything seemed to “click.” Self-care, following steps in directions, and self regulation, things that he had struggled with daily for years, suddenly became non issues. He grew, he matured and he suddenly became the best version of himself.

And in November we started swimming lessons again. Bubba had broken all kinds of Waterbaby barriers and had been bumped up at two to the 3-6 year old class. And so Rocketman and Bubba took lessons side by side. And for Rocketman, there was no flailing, grunting, or throwing himself into the water. When the instructor would say, “What do we look like when we float?” Rocketman’s would me the loudest response of “A STARFISH!” He would smile and wave at his brother and us, but mostly his focus was the instructors, and following their instructions. When the session ended, Rocketman’s favorite instructor handed me his progress report. Every skill had been checked off as completed. But the recommendation was to remain in this level for one more session. “I know he could technically move up, but that class is 45 minutes instead of 30 and I think he just needs one more round of this class to increase his endurance. In the next class, they will mostly be swimming unaided.”

In school that month, the Pre-K kids were asked to write about a goal that they had. Rocketman wrote about the waterslide.

It was January. A year since Rocketman had flung himself into the water and sunk like a rock. Bubba was now in the same class as his brother. This did not phase Rocketman. He was glad to have the company.

When class ended in February, the instructor smiled as she handed me the report saying that Rocketman could advance to the next level- the highest of the preschool classes- and said she was confident that he was ready.

On a Thursday evening in March, I rushed from work to pick up Rocketman and then Bubba, sped to the YMCA, stripped their clothes off, threw their swim trunks on and rushed to join the first class of the new session.

But there was nobody there. I huffed and puffed up to a lifeguard as I surveyed the empty pool. “This is a biweek. Classes start next week.”

But we were there. And the kids were in suits. Hubs was on his way and we both had our suits. I called Hubs and we agreed to stay for family swim. The kids were ecstatic.

First they splashed in the splash pad. Then Rocketman asked if he could swim in the family pooI where the rule was that only those without floatation devices could enter without a parent. I encouraged him to ask the life guard, who agreed that it was fine.

I watched in awe as he independently swam around the low end of the pool. Then, his pupils got big and he rushed out of the pool and at me and asked, “Can I go on the WATERSLIDE?” I told him that he would have to speak to the lifeguard and probably pass the swim test first. He asked me what he needed to do for the swim test and then ran back into the pool. Without faltering, he swam from one side of the family pool to the other. When he got there he turned to me, smiled, and gave me a big thumbs up, which I returned enthusiastically. I gestured that he now needed to swim back. Without hesitation, he plunged ahead. This time, though, the current from the waterslide was rushing against him. It was slow going and nothing showed above the water but his face which was creeping along the surface tenuously.

I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until he made it back to the side. He was shaking as he scrambled up the side of the pool and rushed over to me. Pride and excitement spilled over as he asked if he could do it. Could he go down the waterslide? And then I had to break it to him that the lifeguard had no idea that he had just completed the swim test and would probably have to complete it again.

And there was no hesitation. He marched over to the lifeguard, asked if he could try the swim test, and repeated the laps, poking along against the current of the waterslide and scrambling up the side of the pool again. This time, his pride and excitement was directed at the lifeguard who looked down at him nonchalantly and muttered, “Ok.”

Rocketman didn’t understand.

“Did I pass the swim test?”

“Yes. You can go.”

“I can go? Go on the slide?”

“Go ahead.”

And then he had to clarify with me. Because he was so sure that he was misunderstanding the lifeguard’s message. But I confirmed it. He passed the swim test. He could go down the waterslide.

Hubs arrived in time to see Rocketman taking the steps two at a time, giggling and shaking with joy. He reached the top and when the lifeguard gave him the thumbs up, tumbled down the slide screeching with jubilance. And when he spilled off and  plunged into the water, he did not sink like a rock. He popped right back up above the surface and swam to the ladder, climbed out and said, “Can I go again?!”

And again he went. And again, and again. I explained to the bemused lifeguard that this had been his dream. A goal established two long years ago as a blonde curly haired three year old with his little nose pressed against the glass high above this very swimming pool. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fun. It was painstaking and frustrating and tedious. And so many times we wanted to give up. But we didn’t. We went to all the therapy and and enforced sensory diets at home and fought for IEPs. And spent every Saturday at the YMCA cringing.

But it was all worth it on that day. The day Rocketman came flying down the waterslide screeching with glee. And the pleasure I got out of watching this child do that was greater than the pleasure I have ever gotten watching my naturally capable child complete swim classes designed for children twice his age. I’m proud of him too. But there is something about seeing your child do something that was never going to be easy for him and succeeding only due to sheer effort and determination.

I brought both kids to swim class today, three months before Rocketman’s sixth birthday. I watched as he completed the crawl stroke without any floatation device, dove into the pool from a kneeling position and jumped off the block in the deep end and swam to the ladder. Any of the other parents watching him would see him as just any other five year old in the class. He looked no different from anyone else. But I looked and saw a child that has overcome the odds against him in a considerably short period of time, driven as a preschooler to do anything to achieve his goal. And teaming with pride, I can’t wipe this smile from my face.


November 10, 2013

I attended my first IEP meeting yesterday.  It actually wasn’t my first.  I probably attend one every other month and have been doing so for the past 13 years. But this was my first on the other side of the table.  For the first time, my name noted “parent” next to it as opposed to “teacher.” And that changed everything.

On a side note,

I’m officially changing B’s blog name to Rocketman. He inspired me yesterday, the day of the first IEP meeting where he would be the main topic of conversation and where his name (his real name, not Rocketman) would top all of the 13 paged document that I would have to sign to indicate my approval of the plan. “Rocketman” came from a morning made more difficult than we are used to due to the typical November in New England drop in temperature. This led to chaos of misplaced gloves (that were in his pocket), the panic of a missing hat (that was on his head), and the delay of taking off all of his layers once he arrived at school (despite my constant urging). A bit frustrated, I exclaimed, “My goodness! You are out in space today!” As which point a big goofy smile spread across his four year old face as he responded, “Coool! I love outer space!”  On my way back to my car, ready to head to work with my overstuffed brain overwhelming me, Elton John’s “Rocketman” came on the radio. And I smiled and thought, “Yes.  That is who he is.  My goofy little Rocketman.”

So now we are back at the IEP table where I am on the other side facing a speech pathologist and the head of Child Outreach. Ready to fight my fight and to show them I know a thing or two about education, about the law, about my child’s rights as a soon-to-be special needs student. But it didn’t take much. Apparently they were on my side.  Apparently they seem to have a desire to meet my child’s needs as well. Or so it seems so far.

So it wasn’t a fight or an argument or a disinterest that propelled the meeting. It was a serious, thoughtful discussion about Rocketman and how his needs might be eventually met. And why it is imperative that his needs be met.

I listened and listened and listened.  And then it was my turn to talk. And they were giving me free reign to talk about my kid. Which was strange. Because everyone wants to just talk and talk about their kids, but who ever gives them free reign to do so? But there they were, asking questions about Rocketman. Wondering how it was that while he has an exceedingly strong social emotional skill set, he struggles with sensory issues to the point where he cannot wear a button-down shirt without putting up a fight, runs blindly screaming during a fireworks show and gets so overstimulated by his baby brother that he flaps, grunts and stomps until we have to send him to his room for a break. Or a time out.

And the head of Child Outreach folded her arms thoughtfully and said, “What is so unusual about this case is that, typically, children that have these types of sensory issues struggle with social issues as well. Whereas the list of strengths that you just handed me are actually really good strengths to have.”  Which is fabulous and frustrating at the same time. Because, while it’s nice that my sensory kid does not fit the typical sensory profile, he still has ALL THESE ISSUES. And the issues are impacting his life, and mine, in wearisome, troublesome ways.

I am hopeful.  I have a little boy who is very smart, very sweet and very well adaptable.  He has a magnificent preschool teacher, a empathic pediatrician and a proactive mother.  He has strong, smart women in his life who care very much about him and will move mountains to get him what he needs.  Or at least I will.  I am ready to move mountains to get him what he needs. My silly and smart, sweet and so very funny Rocketman.

Look, Up in the Sky…

August 11, 2013

I’ll admit it.  I have sensory issues.  I have since I was small.  I was a great eater, but refused to eat water chestnuts because of their watery crunch. I preferred not to wear socks. I cannot touch styrofoam without great discomfort, and the sound of its squeak will sent me running to another room with my hands over my ears.

This is why there should be no surprise that my first born starting showing signs of having sensory issues at about 2 years old.  A fire engine was parked in a neighborhood that we were visiting in preparation for the fireworks later that night. The firefighters were letting the neighborhood kids check out the engine and as we were passing by, they let out a quick blast of the horn that sent the usual happy, mellow B into hysterics that lasted the rest of the night and eliminated the option of us sticking around to watch the fireworks.

Since that time, B has had several incidents of going from perfectly normal to hysterical within seconds when confronted with loud noise, or even the prospect of it. I was late for work one morning because a fire truck was parked outside of my neighbors house and, while B thought it was the coolest thing to watch from the window, he clawed the at the doorframe screaming in fear as I tried to move him from the house to the car. We left two annual Fourth of July parties because the minute the fireworks started he ran aimlessly screaming until someone caught him and brought him to some sort of shelter. And while my friends all exchanged reviews of the newest Pixar film out in the movie theatre, I cringed at the memory of B throwing himself to the floor and curling into a fetal position outside the door of the “movie night” room at a hotel, screaming and pleading for us not to make him go inside.

The pediatrician felt it was a common occurrence for two and then three year olds to be sensitive to sound.  I thought that his seemed a lot more dramatic than other sensitivities I had seen in his peers. This was confirmed the night that we took him to his first live theatre production , Sesame Street Live, when he was two and a half and I was 6 months pregnant with C. He had loved Elmo since he turned 2 and we were excited for the opportunity to see him live on stage singing and dancing.  He was happy and excited all day and we were thrilled with anticipation.  All went well until Bert and Ernie came on stage to open the show with a song.  The music started playing and hundreds of toddlers jumped up and down dancing and singing.  And my child let out a primal scream and ran through the entire theatre and out into the lobby.  Two parents and six ushers spent the entire first act trying to calm him enough to get him to reenter the theatre. Following intermission, after spending the first half of the show that we paid big bucks to get front row seats for in the lobby, a very sweet usher was able to convince him to sit in a balcony seat to watch the second half of the show. He lasted through 3 notes of Cookie Monster’s ballad before again hitting the ground running and climbing up a very steep set of stairs to the very back of the theatre in an attempt to escape. When he got to the top, he ran back and forth along the very last (empty) aisle, desperate for an escape hatch. Finally, he sat on my lap in the theatre chair that was the farthest away from the stage for the last 20 minutes of the show. Only because he was too exhausted to do otherwise.

One of the wonderful ushers who had tried so much to help during this whole traumatic ordeal tried, at one point, to convince me that this was not uncommon. Two year olds have sensitivities to noise and other types of stimulation and that he and I were not alone. I looked at her and wearily pointed out that he was the only child in the entire theatre that was hyperventilating in this lobby while Super Grover was flying over our front row seat. There was nothing to be said from there.

So, this sound-sensory stuff has been what we have been dealing with for the past two years.  We try to deal with it with a great deal of preparation, understanding, and the choice to leave the situation if it gets too overwhelming.  Since he has turned 4, however, B has done some pretty brave things in an attempt to conquer his fears.

Two months ago, we took B, a grand lover of music, to his first rock concert. It was Los Straightjackets and it was in an old mill that had been converted to art studios and a music venue. We provided him with earplugs and he danced all night long. He even got the drummer’s autograph at the end.  After that, B felt like he could face anything. We attending his first movie theatre movie, Monsters University, a month later and he sat enthralled for over 2 hours. We went to Sesame Place in PA and sat through an Elmo Rocks concert and a fireworks show with little incident. (Though I did initially need to chase him though a crowd of people as he aimlessly ran shouting, “We need to get inside!!  I don’t like this at all!!!”) I managed to calm him in the end and when asked a week later what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he requested a “Fireworks Cake!” Who knew.

Which, finally, brings me to tonight when a popular local children’s band was performing the final concert in a local outdoor concert series.  In preparation for the event, I spent some time with him on You Tube watching clips of their concert and laughing at and clapping to their songs. When he asked if we had seen the band before, I told him the truth.  We had gone to see him when he was two, but he had thought they were too loud and had run through the halls of the school where they were performing in an effort to escape. I explained that we could sit anywhere he chose, close to the stage and speakers, or more far away where it would not be so loud. He seemed to take this into consideration and then walked away.

He came back 5 minutes later wearing a Batman shirt, a Spiderman mask and asking me to secure his Superman cape. He asked if he could wear this outfit to the show. I told him that of course he could.  He said, “Good.  Because I have the best idea.  If the music gets too loud and I get too scared, I will put down my mask and it will protect me.” How could I argue with that logic.

So my big brave Bat-Spider-SuperMan attending the show. He chose a spot farther from the stage, but did spend a good deal of the time sitting up in front of the stage with many of the other children. There was no hysterical screaming, no running without destination, no fetal positions. On one or two occasions, I saw him tip his mask over his face when things seemed a bit more overwhelming.  But most of the time, Spiderman’s face rested on his head, with little strands of his blonde hair sticking through the eyeholes.

We’ve come a long way since the day of the first fire engine blast and I feel that we have won this battle with a whole lot of understanding, preparation and the allowance of whatever type of security needed to feel comfortable.  I am so proud today of my amazing SuperB.