Category Archives: therapy


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:

Sensory processing…is a term that refers to the way the nervous system receivesmessages from the senses and turns them into appropriate motor and behavioralresponses.
SensoryProcessing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses.
Click here to learn more.  
So, here I am filling out these forms, realizing that my memories of just five years ago are already turning into mush. When did your child first sit up?  I have no idea, but I have a photograph of Dylan sitting on the beach in Naples, FL without assistance. He was about six months old and adorable.  It was his first time on a beach, and I remember (yes, I actually remember) as soon as we snapped the picture he started eating fistfuls of sand.    

When did your child first babble?  I’m going to have to call my friend with the amazing memory.  She stayed with us when Dylan was a baby.  If he babbled during her visit, she’ll remember. 

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Filed under food issues, sensory processing disorder, therapy

It’s My Barbeque And I’ll Cry If I Want To

I’ve been crying a lot lately.  Last Friday, the start of a five-day family reunion with my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law and my niece and nephews began with a bang.  A big, bad bang.  After school, when Dylan realized his cousins were waiting for him at home to play and swim, he began a fast descent into a deep hole of fear and anxiety that left him trapped in a dark, irrational place with tall brick walls surrounding him on all sides.  I don’t know what was happening in his head, but that’s what it looked and felt like to me.  It lasted most of the afternoon.

I have anxiety.  It runs in my family.  I’ve been in therapy a few times in my life because of it, but I was an adult when it happened, not a four-year-old child.  This wasn’t Dylan’s first anxiety attack, but it was the most intense one I could remember.  Mike and I have talked about Dylan’s quirks many times before (fear of new food, new clothes, going upside down, Finding Nemo, being alone, growing up, etc.), but this episode stopped us in our tracks. He eventually snapped out of it, and by the end of the evening he was laughing and playing with his cousins, but the happy ending didn’t erase the horrible beginning. 
Most of the time, Dylan is a happy, healthy kid.  Some of the time, though, he’s not. As a parent, it’s terrifying to feel like you can’t hold your child and make it all better.  It’s even worse to think of him feeling like he can’t make it go away either.  Simply put, the older Dylan gets, the bigger his world becomes and the more independent he feels, the worse his anxiety becomes. 
He’s not coping well, and no matter how hard Mike and I try, we’re not coping well either.  We don’t know whether to push him into new situations or pull back, accommodate or make ultimatums, hug or discipline, or laugh or cry (obviously, I’ve chosen to cry).  We may not always make the right parenting decisions, but never before have we felt so completely unable to make a choice at all.  We’ve been in touch with a child therapist and hope to meet with her later this week to get Dylan the help he needs. 
Ugh.  I bet you would’ve preferred a story about shopping, packing or poop.  Fear not.  I have a poop story for you.  On Sunday, in the midst of all of this tension, and just a few hours before 16 people arrived for a family barbeque in honor of my parent’s 40th anniversary, our toilets and showers clogged so badly that “poop” talk was unavoidable.  It was as gross as you’re imagining.  Dylan was in heaven!  A Roto-Rooter truck in the driveway greeted my entire family when they pulled in.  I poured my first glass of wine that afternoon before 2pm. 
The plumbing issue was finally resolved, the barbeque went great and the whole weekend was full of fun distractions.  Then came Monday, and the stress of it all knocked me off my feet.  I cried in front of every person I saw.  (To everyone who saw my tears, thanks for listening!)  There’s always a lot at stake as a parent, but the mere thought of any of it standing in the way of Dylan’s happiness and his greatness is devastating to me.
I’ve written about a lot of personal stuff on this blog, but this time I feel more vulnerable than ever before. I have to believe, though, that I’m not the only mother who loves her kids but hates Play-Doh.  That I’m one of millions of women with a shopping addiction.  That I toast my 5pm glass of Pino Grigio with at least a few other Mamas trying to survive the daily dinnertime-bathtime-bedtime grind.  And that I’m one of many parents with a child who needs a little extra help handling the world around him.
I’ll keep you updated on this new journey.  In the meantime, I’m off to the store to stock up on Kleenex. 

When was the last time you had a good cry?

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Filed under anxiety, family, parenting, therapy