I’m going to tell you a story about a little girl, let’s call her Sweetie. She had a special event to go to her with Mom and there were going to be pictures. She was dressed in a beautiful dress, frilly with crinoline, lace, socks and shoes. This wasn’t her choice to wear this outfit, but it made her Grandma happy who picked it out especially for her. The trouble was no matter how beautiful the dress was, or how gorgeous sweetie looked in it, it made her miserable. You see sweetie has a neurological condition called Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). I’ll let Dr. Jean Ayre’s explain it better than I can.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD, formerly known as “sensory integration dysfunction”) is a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses. Pioneering occupational therapist and neuroscientist A. Jean Ayres, PhD, likened SPD to a neurological “traffic jam” that prevents certain parts of the brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. A person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively.
This is why the dress felt uncomfortable on Sweetie’s skin. The crinoline and lace made her feel itchy, and the socks made her feel like her feet and legs were on fire. This may sound like an intense reaction to an outfit for a picture day. But this is how things feel to a child with SPD. The time came for pictures to be taken and poor Sweetie was having a difficult time. Each time the camera flashed or made a clicking sound, her ears were bombarded with the noise. The longer she had to be there looking gorgeous but suffering, caused her body to go into sensory overload. Sweetie’s Mom was watching, waiting, hyper vigilant to help her daughter but feeling helpless. The photographer taking the pictures made comments about Sweetie’s behavior. Her Mom responded to the photographer with “that’s not a very nice thing to say.” Even after her Mom explained that Sweetie has a sensory condition. The useful information wasn’t needed or heeded to help sweetie, and the unprofessionalism continued. The fact that a family picture caused such a negative response from the photographer spoke volumes of her lack of professionalism. She dismissed Sweetie’s Mom with a comment “it’s not my fault you put her in that dress.” Finally the photo session was over and sweetie’s Mom quickly undressed her and put her back into the cotton dress she arrived in. It felt so nice and soft on her skin and didn’t make her feel like a prickly cactus! She even wanted to make her Nana happy and put on her pretty picture dress over top of her cotton one. Dinner and cake were enjoyed by all and then it was time to go home. Sweetie had a pink balloon as a lovely reminder of her Great Grandma’s birthday and looking at it floating around in the car made her happy. Her parents made a quick stop and she changed into her pajamas. Then the unthinkable happened the balloon got loose and floated up into the sky. Poor Sweetie was so sad and broke down crying. And at that moment a woman appeared knocking on the window of the car with another pink balloon! That angel with the pink balloon was there when Sweetie needed her the most. An open door into the spirit of love and giving. The photographer was judgement personified and a closed door. What a simple blessing for a sweet little girl in the gift of a pink balloon. ?
This is a true story that happened to a sweet little girl and her loving Mom. As soon as I read it I felt compelled to tell their story, with their permission. Thank you for reading. ?