Saturday, April 10, 2010

Long day

Today was a day that had much potential for sensory overload and meltdown:

1. Haircut- 10am
2. Birthday party- 2-3:30pm; Frank usually naps from about 1-3pm, so this basically was getting him up right in the middle of his normal nap time.
3. Dinner at Charlie Brown's with Mommy and Daddy

Aside from the last 20 minutes at Charlie Brown's, when he began acting like the three-year-old that he is, he handled everything beautifully!

Haircuts tend to be difficult for any child with SPD. There's the unfamiliar sounds of a salon (hair dryer, other kids, a lot of people talking, clippers). There's the smells (shampoos, conditioners, styling products). There's the sights (usually bright, so the stylists can, you know, see what they're doing). There's the feel of it (Think about how it feels to you when a tiny bit of hair gets stuck under your shirt. Now magnify that feeling.) and even the taste (hair in your mouth, anyone?).

When I take Frank for a haircut, I take him to a place that is for kids. It's a walk-in place, which means, depending upon the day and time we get there, we can either be seen right away, or we could be there 45 minutes, or anywhere in between. I personally prefer something of a wait- it gives Frank time to adjust himself to the things going on there, and gives us time to do deep pressure before he gets called. Today the wait was 30 minutes, which was good- he had time to roam around, watch a little of the movie they showed, and sit on my lap for some squeezes, both on his abdomen and his head.

He really did a great job! Part of the reason for his success was, when I told the woman who was cutting his hair that he had SPD, she seemed to know what I was talking about, and, without me even asking, she told him and showed him what was going to happen next at each step. "(Okay, Frank, I'm going to spray some water on your hair. Ready?" "Now I'm going to use the scissors. See them?" "Okay, now I'm going to use the clippers here-" touches each sideburn "- and here." touches back of neck)

We got back from the haircut, lollipop and prize in hand, watched a little TV, and then I put him in for an early nap, at noon. He sang to himself for a good 45 minutes before sleeping. At 1:30pm, I got him up, changed his diaper, and we went to the birthday party. The party was at New York Sports Club, about a 20 minute drive from here.

Birthday parties for any small child can be sketchy, and for children with SPD, they have the potential to be so much worse. Just think about the other little kids, running around, screaming with excitement, running into each other, the food, etc. For Frank, they're a crapshoot- depending upon the type of venue, how much sleep he's had, the phase of the moon (okay, maybe not that, but I swear sometimes it is), he could either love a party or sob miserably on my shoulder for most of it.

Today was a good day. They played with a parachute, and he even went under it with all the other kids (and me, but I was not the only parent dragged under with her kid). They then played with a bunch of large exercise balls, and he had a wonderful time, running around, pushing a ball that was bigger than he is. Then we all paraded into another room for food. As I do pretty much anywhere, I'd brought a few selections of foods he likes. I didn't know what food was being served, so I brought some different things to try to match up with what the rest of the kids were eating as much as possible. Today, blessedly, they served potato chips, pretzels, tortilla chips, and then cake. Frank loves crunchy things, especially chips and pretzels, so he shoveled the food in like everyone else.

The birthday boy, like Frank, also has food allergies, and the mother had made a batch of cupcakes that were egg and milk free just to make sure Frank could have some cake. (She let her son, also allergic to milk, eat birthday cake, but she knows we're really strict about Frank having any access to food he's allergic to.) It was really very sweet, and I thanked her profusely. Frank, of course, was not going to eat the cupcake, so I told her he'd pigged out on the chips, was totally full, and we'd bring the cupcake home for him to have after dinner tonight.

On the way to birthday parties, I always rehearse things with Frank. "Okay, when we're at the party, if someone asks you if you want some cake, what do you say?"

"No, thank you."

"What if they can't hear you, and they put the cake on your plate, anyway? Do you cry or push it away?"

"No, I leave it there and eat my food."

So, today, he had the cupcake sitting next to him, and one of the employees working the party who was helping to serve the cake to the kids put a slice of cake down at Frank's place. Frank touched his arm and said, "No, thank you. I don't eat cake." The guy looked surprised and glanced at me. I explained, "He has food allergies." The poor guy was so apologetic, and I told him not to worry about it. Well, the food allergy thing is not a lie, and sometimes it is easier just saying that than explaining SPD to someone I'll probably never see again.

Okay, the party was oer, and we came home, got my husband, and went to dinner. Like most parents of young children, when we go eat anywhere, we eat early, usually arriving between 4:30 and 5pm. We also bring Frank's food, and about a thousand small toys for him to occupy himself with. He got an immense goodie bag from the party, so he really played with those items most of dinner. He also, for the first time, ordered his own food from the waiter: "I want chicken fingers and French Fries, and I want ketchup because I need it for the French Fries. Oh, and I want water to drink!" looks at Mommy's face "Please!" Sometimes, he'll eat the chicken fingers in a given extablishment, and sometimes he won't. Tonight, he ate one and one half chicken fingers, as well as about a thousand fries, so he did pretty well with the eating. The last 20 minutes or so, he got very squirmy, and I took him for a short walk, and, when we got the check, I packed him up and took him and the bag out to the car and got him strapped in while Darrel paid for dinner.

When we got home, we changed him and let him watch Dora for a half hour, and he is now in bed and silent. I expect him to sleep very well tonight.

I sometimes get very pessimistic about what's in store for him down the road, especially when it comes to food, but all around, today was a great day. Days like this, I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, it'll all be okay in the end.


Cast and Crew said...

I so understand haircuts!! We finally found a fantastic place that really understood my son's needs...then we moved and he hasn't had a haircut since. And not from a lack of trying on my part. I so love his curly hair, but it has got to go. We are going to try an in-home place in a couple weeks. Hopefully it will go well.

Karin said...

We're really quite fortunate in this place- every person who's cut his hair there has been really patient and gone slowly with him. The one today was the second one who seemed to know what I was talking about when I mentioned the SPD, which makes me wonder if they're getting more kids in there who do have it...or whose moms are more vocal about it! ;)

I also tip well. I figure if the kid is going to be taking up more time, they deserve a 20-25% tip instead of 15-18%. ;)