Friday, June 25, 2010

It's not Autism but...

Sensory Processing Disorder hasn't been a named diagnosis very long, in the grand scheme of disorders. It was only "discovered" in the 1970s and is still very much an umbrella term for hundreds of "quirks" of which each sensory child can have an endless combination. To many schools systems, SPD is categorized as ADD or ADHD to ensure the kids get the extra help they may and the schools get the extra money they feel entitled to receive. Many states don't recognize SPD as a valid diagnosis. In reality, people with SPD are more on the autism spectrum. Some days, it looks very much like autism. Like today, for instance, when my little boy repeatedly banged his head on the cart while we were shopping because he didn't want to be strapped in (I only buckled him in for a minute while I was checking out because he kept standing up. He was in the seat in the front of the cart so it would be a long way down if he fell). My day is a constant study in safety vs. comfort. He is still a kid though and wants what most kids want.

A wonderful dear friend of mine (who knows at least three families with a sensory child) is always on the lookout for resources and activities for us. She found an amazing (and MUCH needed) opportunity through the Autism Society of America. Once a month, 95 movie theaters across the United States host Sensory Friendly Films. To be honest, I cried when I clicked on the link my friend sent. We have taken both of our boys to the movies many times just because sometimes we want to go as a family but the only way the little one will sit quietly is if we feed him. When we did go as a family, we went around lunch or dinner time so he can eat the whole time. Lately (the last 6 months), my husband or I have just taken the older one (or we let my dad take him) because it's too much work to take a sensory kid the movies. The thought of going to the movies with parents who understand why my child wants to climb over the seats, scoot down the stairs on his bottom, or say "pe-oh, pe-oh" over and over and over and over is a dream come true. He loves movies but just watches them differently than most kids. Now we have the guarantee that, once a month, we can all actually enjoy a movie!

3 comments:

Kelly said...

That is awesome! I have noticed AMC sometimes list some of their movies as "sensory friendly" or something like that lately!

phrannie said...

that's great to know about the movie theaters! i hear you - i always want to just cry and hug any company that does special showings/events for kids who are on the spectrum. it is so hard to be sociable otherwise. our son has PDD/NOS and taking him out to eat or to a movie is relatively out of the question.

more and more kids these days are being diagnosed with different types of sensory issues. awareness is key, and parent advocacy is incredibly important. we have to fight for our children more than most (in my opinion) since we have to represent them, protect them from the ignorance of many establishments (including schools sometimes, sadly), and help them to grow and thrive in such a fast, overwhelming world. it is we who pave the way for awareness and understanding.

MomLovesDeals said...

Absolutely! And mine is young enough that most of his "quirks" can be passed off as just being little but I hate having to explain myself all the time!