Monday, June 18, 2012

A Glimpse of Auditory Sensitivities

Music has always been very important to both my husband and I.  Hubby was raised in a very musical family and was picking out songs on the piano almost before he could walk.  The same is true for me.  I am not sure how old I was when I sang my first solo in church.  It was definitely sometime in early elementary school.   it was only natural that one of the things that attracted me to my husband was his heart for worship and his musical talent.

When I discovered I was pregnant with our first child, it was only natural that he was surrounded with music from the moment of conception on.  Daddy playing keyboard, me singing, CD's playing, music at, music everywhere.  Once Paul was born he was sickly. He had to nurse every twenty minutes for the first three months of his life.  He would spit up all the contents of his stomach if you fed him any quantity at once and he had a hard time maintaining weight.  So he spent most of his days in my arms being rocked and sang to. as I sang my way past the point of exhaustion and marched straight into delirium.  At three months, Paul could finally stretch his feedings out to every two hours.  Yet, still when I held him he became agitated (If I was rocking him, I was singing....singing was just that much a part of who I was.  I even sang in my sleep as a child.  It drove my sisters CRAZY!!!  My mom said when I moved out of the house I took the music with me).  Then,  I began to notice he would become worked up when I played CD's or had the TV on or when were in church or in the mall.  In fact anywhere there was any amount of noise Paul became completely inconsolable.  The music ,that was such a part of our family, disappeared almost completely.  I felt like someone had cut out a large part of my heart.   We tried to find a church that would work for Paul.  But it never failed the noise would drive Paul to meltdown and we would be forced to walk around with him outside.  We stopped going to church.  We stopped going shopping with him.  The older he got the worse it became.
Enter Jamie. As much as Paul melted down to music, Jamie craved music.  The only way to get Jamie to calm down was for me to sing to him for HOURS.  Now I had one child who melted down when there was any music and one who would only stop melting down with complete immersion in  music.  Our family became split.  I would put Paul in the playroom  while I calmed Jamie down on the other side of the house in his bedroom.  Paul resented Jamie because everything Jamie needed was the opposite of what Paul needed.  Jamie is hypo-sensitive so he craves CONSTANT sensory stimulation.  Paul is hyper sensitive to EVERYTHING (light, texture, commotion, etc) but noise most of all.  
Then Paul started Kindergarten and everything just got worse.  He could not attend assemblies (they were too loud), could not eat in the lunchroom ( too loud), could not attend music class (too loud), could not be in a classroom that was loud.........and the list goes on and on.  You have to understand this is before Paul had been diagnosed with anything.  We were in the beginning stages of having Jamie diagnosed.  We really had no idea what was going on.  As I write this blog, I write with the knowledge of hindsight  but at the time I had no idea about hyper sensory sensitivity or hypo sensory sensitivity.  All I knew, was that my house was being torn apart at the seams.
We were super blessed that Paul was placed (by coincidence) with a teacher who had spent 20 years working in special ed and had won national awards for her work with autistic kids.  She had only that year returned to the general classroom.  She recognized the signs of Asperger's in Paul (side note: sensory sensitivities were not the only things going on with Paul.  You can not diagnose autism or Asperger's only through sensory integration difficulties) and encouraged us to start the process of getting him diagnosed.  I had come across information on Asperger's through my research on autism for Jamie and had begun to suspect both Paul and my husband were on the spectrum.  To make a long story short, they both are indeed on the spectrum.  Their specific diagnosis is gifted Asperger's.  One of these blog posts I will get around to the difficulties, failures and successes we have had in educating a child with these two diagnosis at once (often referred to as twice gifted).  however, that is not the point of this blog back to the story.
Our house has continued in this manner for years, Paul needing one thing, Jamie needing another.  It led to deep resentments in both of them.
Today, as I was in the living room, I over heard Paul SINGING along with Rich Mullins in the office and I teared up.  I could only think of the fact a year ago this NEVER would have happened.  This past year, Paul has begun to really expand his borders and his sensory sensitivities have lessened dramatically.  I'm not sure whether it is just his age, or the fact we removed him from the completely overstimulating environment of public school to home school him, or the fact he has made new friends, or a combination of all three but now my son TURNS ON MUSIC!!  He "sings" (at least attempts something that kind of sounds like singing and a cat caterwauling mixed together. Pavarotti he is not;) and his frustration with  Jamie has lessened greatly.
I have been given back music.  I feel like someone has restored a large part of the heart of our family.  I cannot tell you what a blessing this is.
Friends, I don't know if any of you has faced this particular situation or not.  But I am willing to bet many of you have had to give up something that is a part of the fabric of your soul for one reason for another ( you love to run but a bum knee prevents you, you love to paint but paying the bills is preventing you from pursuing your passion. The list is endless)  Let me encourage you that in time God can restore it to you the same way he has restored music to my home.  Lots of love-Kristine


Marie said...

yay! i cannot imagine you in a home without singing:)

Kristine Meier-Skiff said...

Awe thanks Marie. You would remember me at my most singy for sure ;)

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