Monday, January 4, 2010

Life is Therapy--Give it a Try

New to the Life is Therapy series? Here's a quick blurb to tell you what it's about:

Sometimes we parents can get bogged down in the notion that the teaching of our children must be done by professionals. Parents of children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to this idea since children with special needs often have to learn and develop quite differently than children with typical needs. This series centers around the idea that learning can and does occur most effectively through everyday life experiences at home and out in the community--for children with both typical and special needs.

You may remember this post where I talked about some of Jack's sensitivities to certain sounds and noises. His preschool teacher, as promised, tried a few different things with him to try and isolate what upsets Jack. She discovered that Jack does not mind it if the kids sing "Happy Birthday" alone. She theorized that he just doesn't like the adults singing over the kids. And what about "Yay!"? Well, Jack did not seem to mind when the kids just shouted "Yay!" It only really seemed to bother him when it was directed at him. So....the end result is....we know a little bit more about what truly bothers him and what doesn't.

It is very nice to understand what actually disturbs him a little bit better but we can't stop everyone who want's to say, "Yay, Jack!" and we can't tell all the adults at every birthday party we attend that they can't sing. So what's a parent to do when a child is sensory sensitive? And aren't all people at least a little sensory sensitive about something?

We cannot control the world we live in and there are some things that unfortunately upset Jack terribly for brief bouts of time. The key is that the upsets are brief. He truly enjoys getting together with other children. AND he learns so much from being with other children. AND the more exposure he gets the less upset he seems to get over these things. When you weigh a brief bit of upset against the positive aspects of venturing out in the world, we say "GET OUT THERE!"

Let me add that we allow Jack the time to be upset. I do not understand why these things upset him so how can I tell him not to be upset? We comfort him the best we can if he has an upset. These upsets do not prevent him from wanting to go to parties. In fact, this fall it seems that he was very busy with all the birthday parties.

The inflatables' places were really popular places for birthday parties this past season.

Unfortunately, this is the only picture we were able to get at Matthew's birthday party before the camera died. You can see Jack's self appointed best friend, Kimberly, in the foreground and Jack and I are somewhat visible in the background.

Jack's niece, Elise, also had her birthday party at one of the inflatable places.

Jack loves these places. He is so used to them now that he says, "Shoes off" and removes his shoes as soon as he hits the carpet of the jumping "arena".

Like all the kids, Jack enjoys jumping and bouncing around but he also always manages to find

the cozy coupe.
For some reason, he derives comfort from these little cars. He is getting a bit big for them and I am sure he will enventually move past these little cars. In the meantime, I try to remember that parties are supposed to be fun. Jack's idea of fun may be a little different but it doesn't hurt him or bother anyone else so into the cozy coupe he goes.

We recently discovered yet a new place to party when Jack was invited to Ren's third birthday party.

Ren's party was at My Gym.They have a dream set up for working on all sorts of gross motor skills such as


climbing and walking on unstable surfaces,

dancing with your sibling,


and crawling.
There are also oppurtunities for

cooperative play

and deciding how much of a daredevil you want to be.

I would love to be able to tell you that the sensitivities are "fixed" and Jack never cries at birthday parties anymore but that's just not true. BUT we can't let that stop us from going. Most of the party finds him

a happy, handsome little guy.
Recent Life is Therapy Posts can be found at:

What's in Your Child's World
Setting Goals
Learning from Others

For more Life is Therapy Posts, check out the left side bar.

Now it's your turn to participate. This is where we share our ideas and stories with one another. We're all in this together. Let's laugh together, motivate one another, and stimulate each others ideas. If you have a blog, create your own "life is therapy" post and link to the specific post in the Mr. Linky below. If you don't have a blog just leave a comment with your life is therapy story.


Michelle said...

Isn't My Gym wonderful?! We were just there last night for 'free play' - my problem is when it's time to go Kayla always tells me "NO!" she hates leaving LOL

Good for Jack (and you too for continuing to expose him to those activities and environments) for having fun and enjoying the birthday party at My Gym!

Staying Afloat said...

We had a birthday thing too. E. wouldn't let anyone sing happy birthday at all for awhile- he had to be taken out of the room. Eventually, people could sing it but not to him- he didn't like being the center of attention. His school solved this problem with their daily calender time. E. loves letters and numbers, so when it was his turn to go up in front of the class to point out the date, they asked him all sorts of questions and then game him a very small yay, which eventually got bigger until he could deal with attention in other ways too. And he did have a birthday party that year, and the next year, he let us sing.

mommytoalot said...

Wow..fantastic. We have a few indoor playgrounds here. We LOVE them. Especially the newest one as the owners are very in tuned to joey's special needs.
We had Damien's b-DAY party there and the year before Abby and Damien's b-day party together at Cheeky Monkeys.
I totally forgot to do a Life is Therapy I'm going to do it now. Better late than never right.
I'll link up soon as I am finished my post. the pictures..
I agree it's great to continue to expose Jack to these types of outings. Joey too has issues with the clown and the big bear at our play place but he is slowly getting used to them.
Great post!

Rachel said...

My Gym is AWESOME, and Ali hates the inflatables place too. My Gym is just soooo much less intimidating for the cautious child.

Great post!!

Rachel said...

My post shows how you can take things that they learn off of video games or tv and let them experience it in real life. Also - I was absolutely amazed at how well she could actually do!

sheila said...

Wonderful! How beautiful would it be if we were all given a moment to compose, to be upset....when we needed it. Think about that.

Can't you all just WHISPER happy birthday? In fact, I wish I could make people whisper that at ALL parties!

Marie said...

Michelle: Yes! My Gym is so much fun and bright and colorful. I love how they just let the kids get after it and play with all the stuff. When were invited to the party I checked out the website and fell in love with all the stuff but worried that they might ry to be a bit too structured and "class-like". I needn't have worried. It was a blast!

Staying Afloat: When we first noticed sensitivities in Jack, it really bothered me but I have noticed that most people have a sensitivity of one kind or another. I don't really know what bothers Jack about these specific things. Maybe one day he'll tell me. Until then, I just support him in whatever way I can.I have noticed that passage of time seems to help and what definitely does not seem to work (and can't be done 100% effectively anyway) is avoiding the situations where it comes up. He'd miss out on way too much.

Mommytoalot: I loved your post about the 0 to 6 center. That is awesome. We have new indoor playplace near here and I won a free pass recently so we'll be checking it out especially since it is freezing (to us) here now.

Rachel:Funny thing. When we there I was thinking about Ali and her adorable little gym outfit and how very cute she would look playing around on the stuff.
I loved your bowling post. That's an activity that I hadn't thought to try with Jack yet (probably because I don't have a hubby who bowled in a league). I don't know if all the noise of the crashing pins or "cosmic lights" would bother him though. Was the music very loud? I could see him getting into hugs and ring around the rosie! He's all boy but he already knows what gets the girls, LOL!

Sheila: LOL! Can you imagine the looks I would get from a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds if I said we are going to only whisper Happy Birthday? I got enough looks last year when I instructed everyone not to sing at Jack's party. I don't really think it would be right for me to tell other people what to do at their own parties, ya' know? And yes yes yes! I love it when someone just gives me support and let's me be upset sometimes. Sometimes there is no fixing you're just upset and need to get it out. I try to do that for Jack now and hope that as he gets older he will remember to take the time and space if he needs it.

Mary @ Parenthood said...

I think you are totally going the right way about trying to help Jack manage his sensitivities.

Also, I don't think you need to worry too much about Jack's reactions to these things. It's unusual to dislike happy birthday so it stands out as "different", but to be sensitive to certain triggers is actually relatively common - many kids cry when exposed to loud sounds for instance. My friend's child used to have hysterics whenever the tv was turned off (even white noise was okay, but if it was off entirely she just couldn't cope). I was absolutely certain the kid would grow up completely maladjusted but she's turned into a lovely, mature ninth grader (and doesn't need the TV background anymore)

My "baby" sister (now in her twenties) is not special needs. But if you startle her, she is quite likely to collapse sobbing into the floor. My parents never really tried to help her deal with it. Instead we always tried to avoid startling her, which totally didn't work.

So I guess what I'm saying is that Jack's issues in this area aren't necessarily even related to his special needs, and I think that your approach makes perfect sense.

Marie said...

Thanks so much for your comments. As you know, there are so many decisions we make as parents in the belief and hope that we are doing the right thing. Thank you for giving me those concrete examples that we are headed in the right direction.