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My Family’s Daily Mantra After My Child’s Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosis

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Every morning I help my husband get the kids up, get their clothes out and get my daughter dressed for the day. By the time all of that is accomplished most mornings, it is time to for me to leave. As my husband finishes dressing our son, I give everyone their kiss goodbye and say the same three phrases to both kids individually: “Be kind, be yourself and be grateful for things given to you.”

I started some rendition of this phrase years ago when my daughter was a baby, and over time it has evolved to its current version. I am sure my daughter can recite it with me now if I asked her. I settled on this version of my mantra after my daughter was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder. As I say my goodbyes every day, the intention behind these words takes on different meanings for my son and my daughter.

Be Kind

Be kind is the first part of our mantra. I say it to my children to remind them to be kind to others even when they are unkind back. To remind them that people might lash out when faced with something strange and scary. That even though you are clear about your needs, people might not be able to hear them because they are too consumed with their own. Be kind anyway. Everyone is fighting their own battles.

I say it to my daughter because she is learning how to deal with her sensory processing disorder. She is often uncomfortable in her body and I want her to learn to be kind to herself, to be patient with herself. Be kind, I tell her. Be kind to yourself. Let your feelings out. Let us help you. Be kind to your body.

Be Yourself

I can’t think of a better message to share with my children. Be yourself. Do your best to tune out the noise of the world and listen to your own inner strength.

As a mother to a child with sensory sensitivities, I feel this tug every time we begin a new therapy and attempt to help our daughter with self-regulation. I don’t want to desensitize her. I want her to know that while her sensory needs can bring challenges, they also make her spectacular. She is one of the most thoughtful and caring children I know. She is also so aware of everything people talk about around her. We have to be careful. She is aware that she is different. I lie awake at night worrying about this. So I tell my beautiful, sensitive child every morning to be herself.

Be Grateful for Things Given to You

Right now, I want my children to appreciate the time people spend with them, the games they are taught to play and the gifts they are given. We will never be rich and I can guarantee a lot of what they desire in life will take time, effort and the raising of funds. We just will not have the money to provide them with all of the new technology and toys that many of their friends will have. So I am hoping that if they learn to be grateful for the special outings or the new coloring book, it will help them to appreciate the simple joys of a life well lived.

This statement takes on an additional meaning when I share it with my daughter. There may be challenges for her with sensory processing disorder, but I want to teach her now to look for opportunities to be thankful. There is a lot of good in this world, and I hope this will help her find the balance she needs to thrive in times of challenge and growth.

Be Kind, Be Yourself and Be Grateful for Things Given to You

As I say this mantra to my children daily, I also say it to myself. As parents, we can get so caught up in the day to day that we forget to do this ourselves. Give back to the world that gives us so much and embrace where you are in life right now. This journey through life with disabilities can take us on paths we never expected. But I believe the best thing you can do right now, is be you. Your children need you, your friends need you and most of all, you, need you. Not the perfect, everything-is-under-control version but the real, messy, amazing human being you are.

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Thinkstock image by amanaimagesRF

Originally published: April 13, 2017
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