Isaiah’s tennis teacher is a saint. He specializes in teaching 4-8 year olds tennis. Enough said.
As the mother of an 8-year-old I can personally vouch for how difficult that must be. Oh wait – I forget we are assuming that child is typical. But my child is not typical, and this class includes Isaiah (my child).
Isaiah – who is missing his volume control knob. Not only that – he is missing “the appropriate time to be singing a song at the top of your lungs” dial. So, as Coach Kim is running a drill where each student has to stand on a rubber circle and hit the ball, then rotate, Isaiah is singing a constant soundtrack in the background. A constant soundtrack that is actually only one phrase. I can’t quite make it out, the tune is decent, but the words probably only make sense to him.
Honestly, this song is grating on my nerves from the gallery, yet his coach goes on as if it is nothing but pleasant background music. The thing is, this song might be grating on my nerves, and maybe even Coach Kim’s. However, this song is comforting Isaiah.
The class is held on a racquet ball court, which echoes like, well, a racquet ball court. Every sound in there is amplified, every shoe squeak, every cough, every word. These sounds are a physical assault to my sensitive son. Yet instead of giving in and being terrified of trying, which would have been the case three years ago, he finds internal comfort. Internal comfort in a tune that protects him from the onslaught of audio that his nervous system cannot process.
Having a child with sensory issues, like sensory processing disorder, often means being the most misunderstood parent in the gang. It means enduring stares, and questioning glances. It means sometimes being the only one who doesn’t chit-chat and be asked to make play dates. Most people just choose to judge your child based on what they see and hear.
As someone who wasn’t always a mom, I can’t say I’m surprised. I mean – he looks like every other normal kid, he doesn’t walk differently, he has an extensive vocabulary and amazing communication skills, and he doesn’t even make funny faces at people as they go by. He doesn’t wear a sign around his neck that says “my nervous system does not process input correctly so please be patient with me.” That would be ridiculous, right? But sometimes I wish he did have that sign. Sometimes I wish he had that sign to remind me, because there are times I want to yell “Can you please stop!!”. The thing is, he can’t stop. If I want him to integrate into a “normal” life, I can’t even ask him to stop. What I can do, is teach him the skills he needs to get through the rough times. But for an 8-year-old, sometimes just identifying what makes up difficult is too difficult. Sometimes being the commotion is the only way he can deal with the commotion.
This post has been included as part of my favorite prompt meme Finish The Sentence Friday “The nicest thing someone ever did for me…” For me that would be teaching my child without complaining and with empathy.
Please visit your hosts; these wonderful writers:
Janine Huldie of Confessions of a Mommyaholic
Kate Hall of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine
Kristi Campbell of Finding Ninee
Stephanie Sprenger of Mommy, For Real
Sarah Rudell Beach of Left Brained Buddha as most honorary Guest Host