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Thursday, March 20, 2008


A little known fact about me is that when I was little (maybe 4 years old or so), I dreaded waking up and having to get dressed every day. I hated getting dressed. Socks were the worst. You see, I hated the way clothes felt on me. I can't even explain the feeling, really, but I just couldn't stand it and most clothes had to be removed immediately. There wasn't 1 pair of socks that felt right; the seams always caused me problems. These issues led to hours of me screaming and crying because I just couldn't bear that feeling of those clothes on my body. And my mother was not much help. She thought I was just being difficult. She even decided that because I was being so "difficult", she would take me to a child psychologist, who told her that blue eyed, blond haired, fair skinned girls were simply over sensitive. That was the end of the search for what was wrong with me. I lived the next 25 years of my life with these issues, although they aren't as bad now.

Well, the other night I was doing some research on a particular disorder because some of the symptoms seemed to show up in my 4-year-old son. As I was reading, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Right there in front of me, I saw my exact childhood (and some now) symptoms. The disorder is called sensory integration disorder and it has to do with the brain either over-processing or under-processing stimuli to the senses. This can affect one or more of the senses and can be very stressful for the child. The treatment is occupational therapy, which sounds pretty easy compared to what some kids have and go through. Apparently, the kind I had (have) affects my sense of touch and my brain must be over-processing it because I really don't like things to touch me. I was stunned. I actually began to cry, thinking, "Surely this disorder was around when I was a kid. Why didn't anyone know?" I really wanted a straight answer, but I know that, even if I was speaking to her, I would get the same answer I always got from my mother: "I did the best I could. You were a monster and no one knew what to do with you. I had 2 other kids to deal with." Sweet mom, huh? Thanks, Kathie. I'm so mad right now. I can't believe I could have been treated for this and maybe had some of my childhood back (although for other reasons, some of my childhood was lost for good). I might be able to hug my husband and not cringe (because I hate to be touched). I might be able to buy any pair of socks I like without having to first inspect them to make sure they're going to feel OK. I know these are minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things, but I can't help feeling gypped. Why did my older brother get his affliction treated when his knees started hurting? He was seen my many specialists who finally diagnosed him with RA. Why did my younger brother get his affliction treated when he started going, for lack of a better word, crazy? They took him all over to get a diagnosis of ADHD. Why did my mother settle for the first, idiotic I might add, idea from some obvious quack when it was me who needed help? God I needed help. Inside I was screaming for help. But no one wanted to listen. Why was I treated like my "pain" didn't matter?

These questions will probably go unanswered as long as I live. I suppose, though, there is some good that came from this experience. I will now always question anything with my kids that's not "normal". I will always listen when my kids tell me something just isn't right. I will always err on the side of caution when it comes to their physical, emotional, or mental health. I will never let my kids suffer the way I had to suffer.