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10 Things I’m Thankful for in Parenting a Child With Sensory Processing Disorder

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When it comes to sensory processing disorder, I’ve spent more time being bitter and angry with it than being grateful. The reality is, why would I want to be thankful for sensory processing disorder? I believe it takes a lot of joy from my daughter and from our life as a family. But here we are, living with it daily.

I sincerely believe that if we look hard enough, we can find the good in everything, and we can choose to be grateful. So we take the good with the bad. I challenged myself this year to take the things I am least thankful for and choose gratefulness.

1. I’m thankful for the medical expenses. Because it means there are people who can help and give us the support we need. It means we are able to work on some areas and help our daughter, Miss Sensory, continue to develop in areas she is delayed. It means we’ve had amazing therapists to work with who have helped piece together Miss Sensory’s needs.

2. I’m thankful for all the therapy appointments. Because it means there’s room to grow and hope that it will get better. It means growing and learning for all of us. It means new challenges and continued support. It means accountability for me in continuing the work at home.

3. I’m thankful for a house that looks more like a playground inside. Because it means we’ve given our child room to get her needs met all year. It means I’m less uptight and more relaxed. It means that sometimes a fort is needed (a quiet retreat) or a ball bit in the living room (tactile input).

4. I’m thankful for early morning wake-ups. Because it means we are alive to live out another day fully. It means Miss Sensory misses us and wants someone to be with her. It means Miss Sensory is ready to face the day, and whatever comes her way, she greets it with full force.

5. I’m thankful for meltdowns. Wait, did I really just write that? Yes, yes I did! I’m thankful for meltdowns because it means a child to love in the good and the bad — this girl I love more than anything else in the world. There were years where all I dreamed of was to have a crying baby in my arms (literally, I did dream of that); that’s how much I had wanted a child. It means loving her in the middle of a meltdown, being the calm in the middle of her storm.

6. I’m thankful for conversations that never get finished. Because it means a child who wants to join in (but doesn’t know how). It means a child who is so excited to tell us her next thought. I can see her joy as she tries to “participate” in conversation when Sensory Dad and I are talking. She’s trying.

7. I’m thankful for the piles of clothing by the door. Because it means she wore pants outside the house! Not just pants but socks, shoes, jacket, a hat and mittens. She left the house fully clothed and appropriate for the weather.

8. I’m thankful she hates kisses. Because it means she craves hugs and snuggles, she craves proprioception. It means that as she grows, she still wants to snuggle, and it never gets old. She never turns down a hug — the biggest, deepest hug you can give.

9. I’m thankful for meltdowns at home, only for Mom and Dad. Because it means she feels safe here. It means we are her release. She’s held it all in all day. She’s been around people who love her, but it’s when she gets to be with Mom and Dad, she lets it all out. She knows we will love her when she’s happy and when she’s sad, in the middle of a meltdown and when she’s smiling.

10. I’m thankful for sensory processing disorder. Because it means it’s changed us all. I wish more than anything Miss Sensory didn’t have this disorder. But it really is what has changed us.

Miss Sensory is sensitive to those around her. She is caring and compassionate. She knows what it means to have a difficult time with the world, and she recognizes other kids having a difficult time and uses the skills she has learned to help them. She will come alongside another young child and talk to them about taking deep breaths and telling them it will all be OK.

Sensory Dad and I have learned to be more compassionate toward others. We have learned to look at the world in a completely different way. We have learned the challenges of living with and caring for someone with physical, emotional and neurological challenges. We have learned that being a good parent doesn’t mean a child behaves perfectly all the time. It means parenting well, doing everything we can and teaching her socially appropriate behavior.

It means as a parent being sensitive to the world around us and acknowledging that we are all different and unique. It means embracing the differences and living life out sensationally.

Follow this journey on Sensory Mom.

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Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 25, 2015
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