I have a lot to learn about sensory issues, but what I know so far is (1) confidence plays a huge role in achieving success (2) sometimes success requires you to take a few steps back before moving forward.
Saying, “If I eat these strawberries, my eyes will hurt,” or sitting in my lap during a birthday party instead of playing basketball because the noise in the gymnasium is too loud are examples of the backward steps.
Some of the fear and anxiety Dylan feels is because of nervous system confusion. For example, doing a forward roll sends his vestibular system into a tail spin. Yes, I just used vestibular in a sentence. Smart Mama! A lot of his problems, though, simply have to do with having low muscle tone, and it explains why that t-ball class was so frustrating for him – and the rest of us – last year.
On Friday, I took the boys to a park after school with some friends. While we were there, Dylan asked me to push him on the baby swing. It was one of those situations that, before the sensory diagnosis, would have frustrated me to no end. Why didn’t he want to sit in the big kid swing like his friends?
Truthfully, Dylan hadn’t been near a swing – a baby or big kid one – in a long time. Somewhere along the way, he decided avoidance was the easiest and least scary solution to the problem, so it was a good thing he wanted to swing at all.
After a few minutes on the baby swing, he did something surprising. He asked me to push him on a big kid swing, one that was far away from where his friends were playing. I gladly obliged and a few pushes later, he started pumping his legs forward and back. It was difficult for him – I could see the strain in his feet when he tried to straighten his legs – but he kept at it. I sat down on the grass (in awe) and quietly repeated, “Forward and back. Forward and back. Forward and back.”
Exciting stuff, right? Well, it got even better. After about ten minutes of “practicing,” he told me he wanted to play on the swings with his friends. And he did just that, confidently pumping his legs forward and back on the big kid swing with a huge smile on his face. Let me tell you, I was a Proud Mama! Something big happened in the park that sunny Friday afternoon. Dylan believed in himself and took a colossally gigantically enormously huge step FORWARD.