I've written before about some of the challenges Robbie has as a result of his sensory processing disorder (SPD). But he's come a long way and we've learned a lot about what works for him and what doesn't.
Rob is primarily a sensory seeker. That means that he is under-responsive to touch and movement. As a result, he seeks out what we refer to in our house as "deep impact." When he was a toddler, he was a literal head banger. If he's going to hug you, he's going to hug you hard. He loves to wrestle and knock over blocks and do lots of things that you'd expect little boys to do, but maybe a little more zealously than other kids. Swimming and gymnastics meet his needs more than soccer does.
Once we got hooked up with an occupational therapist who specializes in SPD, I jokingly said that the treatment for a sensory seeker is to allow them to do everything you've spent their whole life telling them not to do. Crawl downstairs on your belly headfirst? Go for it! Put all the couch/chair cushions on the floor, stand on a chair and jump into them? Have at it!
But I recently discovered an even better Rx for my little sensory seeker. Big, scary rides!
A few weeks ago, I took Robbie, Annie and a friend to Holiday World for a quick one-day trip as part of my Indiana tourism gig. I told Annie and her friend they could go off and ride all the big rides while I took Robbie to the more tame attractions. Well, Robbie wasn't going to have any of it. He begged, pleaded, whined and near pitched a fit that he wanted to ride The Legend, a roller coaster the girls were headed for.
So I sent him to the line and motioned to Annie that he was going to ride with them. Seconds later, I got a text from her:
"MOM! He's can't ride this. He's going to FREAK out!"
"I know," I texted back. "Then I can take him to the little rides and you guys will be free."
We were all shocked when he got off The Legend (100 feet high, nearly 60mph) and hollered "That was wicked awesome!"
I did let the girls go off on their own and took Robbie on the high-flying swings, the "octopus" ride, the Turkey Twhirl and several other rides that made me sick while leading my daredevil to a state of sensory bliss.
If I thought he was wild then, I had no idea what he was capable of handling. Last weekend, we took a mini-vacation back to Holiday World. This kid -- my little 7-year-old, 60+ pound boy -- not only rode The Legend three times, but he also rode the Raven three times and the Voyage (70 mph!) twice, along with several other wild rides.
Too bad I can't get our insurance to cover a season pass.