It’s amazing how sometimes everything can change, but stay exactly the same. I know…that doesn’t make sense at all when said by itself, but let me explain a little bit.
Our story starts back when Asher was a baby. Right around when he was starting to eat solid foods. We tried various new foods with him like bananas, blueberries, apples, applesauce, etc. Anything we put in his mouth resulted in gagging and, most times, vomit. Cheerios and Puffs always went down with no problem so at one point I cut bananas into the tiniest little pieces to fit in the hole of the Cheerios. He nibbled around the outside of the Cheerio and left the bananas on the plate…a baby, probably 7 or 8 months old, was stubborn enough to figure this out. He finally got used to bananas, but still had issues with other foods and gagging. I figured it was just something he’d grow out of. Five years later, we still have a super picky eater.
Also as a baby, Asher hated it when I would rub his back. When I was little, my mom would rub my back to relax me and put me to sleep so I thought Asher would enjoy the same thing. When I’d start rubbing, he would arch his back and try to move his back away from my hands. I figured it may have been too light so I applied more pressure and tried massage instead. Same result. Again, I thought oh well. Just one of his quirks.
Fast forward a few years and Asher was about 3. We were in the car driving down country roads and came across a dead skunk in the road. The smell was so bad my eyes were watering and I could almost taste it. I made a comment to Asher about how awful that smell was and he was completely oblivious.
“Huh?” he asked me.
“Doesn’t that smell bother you?”
“You didn’t smell that?”
“No. My smeller doesn’t work.”
I was completely confused. I thought “Well maybe he just doesn’t know how to smell things. Although I thought that was kind of instinctual.” So one day I tried testing it. I hid some common things that he would know the smell of in a bucket and covered it. I put a jar of play-doh in. He couldn’t recognize it. I tried a jar of peanut butter. He peeked and saw what it was. Finally I took him to the grocery store pharmacy. They sell essential oils. I took some very basic ones like peppermint, orange, lemon, etc. and wrapped my whole hand around it so he couldn’t read it. He couldn’t guess what they are so he finally reminded me that his smeller doesn’t work. I never really gave up trying to get him to smell things.
Other little things kept throwing red flags at us. He hates being dirty. He complains about buttons on his shirts, about his pants being too baggy and getting in his way. He complains that he doesn’t like his weighted blanket because of the “little beads in it.” He can feel every little bead. He complains about getting his nails trimmed. He says it hurts. He hates getting his hair wet and rinsed in the bathtub/shower and will not open his eyes afterward until I have wiped them with a towel. He absolutely hates being tickled and will sometimes freak out if someone touches him when he doesn’t expect it. He still does not enjoy back rubs or massages. He will push your hands away. He is scared of thunder and lightning. He will cover his ears and close his eyes as tight as he can. Or if he’s in bed he will bury his face in his pillow and cover his ears. This worries me that he will suffocate himself before he lets himself see the lightning. Loud noises scare him. He does not enjoy crowded, dark, noisy, chaotic places. He get so anxious he nearly makes himself sick.
He has anxious tics. He picks at his nails (maybe he does that so I won’t trim them?), he licks his lips raw, he rolls his shirt around his fingers and balls the bottom of it up into a crumpled mess, he paces, he talks non-stop. One can tell when he’s had too much as he can not be settled.
We have purchased a few things for him and put together what we call the “calming corner.” He has various fidgets, silly putty, squeeze balls, lights, handheld games, miniature toys, books, etc. He also got a Harkla swing for Christmas. It hangs from the ceiling and just kind of wraps around him and blocks out the outside world. We also bought him a trampoline for the back yard that he will jump on for hours at a time.
We had already begun making accommodations for him at home to help these issues he was having, but as his doctor appointment neared, I wanted to bring up some of these quirks to his doctor.
In a last minute effort, on the way to the doctor’s office we got behind a truck that was burning oil really bad. I asked Asher, “are you smelling anything right now?” He said no, that he wasn’t. I knew I HAD to bring it up to his doctor.
I started with the picky eating. The doctor replied that sometimes kids are just like that and they grow out of it eventually. She suggested offering new foods and implementing a “one bite rule” where he has to try at least one bite of everything. So I brought up the clothes and weighted blanket thing. She listened. I brought up the sense of smell (or lack thereof) and she suggested that occupational therapy may not be a bad idea. She referred us to an occupational therapist and they are supposed to contact me in the next couple of weeks. We’ll see how it goes as with our current insurance situation, we cannot afford much other than routine well-child visits. We are working on changing that though (hopefully sooner than later!). That’s a whole different story which I don’t have time to write and you wouldn’t really enjoy reading.
Anyway, when we got our discharge papers from the doctor’s office I saw the official diagnosis. “Plan of treatment: Specialist: Sensory Integration Dysfunction.” This is another way of saying Sensory Processing Disorder. My intuition/suspicions were correct. My boy has Sensory Processing Disorder, which basically means his brain doesn’t know how to properly react to the information or stimuli that come to him through his senses. Just like that, my gifted boy became my 2e boy.
2e is a term used meaning twice-exceptional. Twice-exceptional refers to a gifted person that also has a secondary “disability.” This could come in the form of a sensory processing disorder, autism, learning disabilities like ADD or ADHD, ODD, dyslexia, etc. The only reason there is a special name for it is because sometimes the two can offset each other and cause the gifted child to slip through the cracks because the secondary disability made it difficult to recognize the giftedness or vice versa. These kids must learn how to cope with being gifted and the various things that are thrown at them with their second diagnosis.
So, at the beginning of this blog I mentioned how things can change, but stay exactly the same. When I said that, I meant that we knew already that Asher had struggles with sensory processing and we had already started accommodating for it but now, all of a sudden, we have an official diagnosis and that makes it different and much more real. We went from gifted to 2e. We have no intentions of treating Asher any different because of this diagnosis, but things will change in that we can obtain further resources to help him cope in new ways that will be beneficial to him. Can’t wait to see where this takes us.