I have a friend with an amazing memory. She can remember first and last names of practical strangers or tell mewhat I was wearing at a specific event as far back as 1993. That’s when we met. We were roommates our freshman year in college and have been the best of friends ever since. Me? I know what I ate for breakfast this morning, but don’t ask me to time travel because my long-term memory is bleak.
The best way to describe it is to imagine a series of photographs pinned to a wall. Some of the snapshots are of big life events – like graduating high school or giving birth to my boys – and some of them are random but etched in my brain – like when I got caught hiding medicine in the couch when I was a little girl and my mom cried, or when I dressed up like my Dad for Halloween, or when my Nana who suffered from Alzheimer’s told a waitress at a restaurant that my name was Amy (my cousin’s name).
I don’t know why my brain works this way, but it does. As I get older, periods of time for which I once had movie-like recollections have become individual frames. High school. College. Graduate school. My roaring twenties in New York. I have a general feeling about these different times and a handful of snapshots that will stay with me forever, but the rest is a wash. It’s kind of like my appreciation for music. I can love a song without knowing a single lyric.
Today, I’m filling out medical forms for Dylan that ask questions like “when did yourchild first sit up?” and “when did your child first babble?” These kinds of questions are like punches to the gut for mama like me who found it too daunting to keep a baby book where such monumental events would have been recorded. It never occurred to me that I would need to create a timeline of these developmental accomplishments five years later. I also forgot (ha!) that my memory would eventually turn it all into mush.
Last weekend, Dylan went to a birthday party at an ice skating rink. Fun, right? For Dylan, it wasn’t. First, it was a big, loud place. Second, there was pizza. Forget about it. Third, it was cold. He wouldn’t go anywhere near the ice, and even though he should have worn long-sleeves and long pants, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t.
None of these issues are new, and I’ve written about them before, but something clicked for me when this birthday party became such a struggle. My memory might be fuzzy, but what I see happening with my child right in front of me is suddenly crystal clear. Dylan is a stubborn kid, but something is happening in his brain and in his body that is preventing him from accomplishing some basic tasks.
I’ve always said that Dylan processes the world differently. It’s part what makes him so gifted and unique. But, his inability to wear certain clothes and eat certain foods, and interestingly, his fears, anxieties, weak fine motor skills, listening problems and absent-minded professor-like qualities, might all be a result of a sensory processing disorder.
From the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation: