So it finally happened, our oldest baby boy has passed the half way point in Elementary school. He’s one of the youngest in his class, since his birthday is in March, but he is among the biggest. Size isn’t the only thing that makes him stand out though. Gus has Sensory Processing Disorder. It has caused him many problems throughout his short life, but I am so proud of the progress he has made to get to were he is today.
When we dropped him off for his first day of Kindergarten, he was curled up in fetal position, crying in the middle of his classroom. Since he was our first kid, we just assumed this was normal separation anxiety, because we had gone through the EXACT same thing when we dropped him off for daycare a couple of years earlier. In daycare he was a somewhat shy, but friendly toddler among his tight knit little group of friends. Looking back, he was okay when he was in his comfortable classroom environment, but was extremely clingy, anxious, and even scared of those same friends at birthday parties and other play group situations that he was not familiar with.
Gus does not like to be looked at. I know, I know. This sounds weird, but even a stray glance can make him feel like someone is laser focused on him and that causes him so much anxiety. He started telling us around four years old “Don’t look at me.” We brushed it off thinking it was just one of those funny things that little kids say, and thought nothing of it. Not wanting people to look at you is a problem especially when no one is actually looking at you. Going anywhere out in public that he was unfamiliar with caused instant stress. I still have flashbacks of him clinging onto Daddy’s neck for dear life, afraid Lucas would put him down and he would be exposed to the scary world that he had built up in his mind. Having his own birthday party where he was expected to be the center of attention and open presents was out of the question, as was playing any type of sport. You see, until he started kindergarten and his teacher pointed out that his behavior was more than just quirky, we had no idea that anything was wrong.
When he started kindergarten, more strange behaviors emerged. He started circling his classroom multiple times before he would sit down. He became an avid hand washer, that one I didn’t mind so much, but it was distracting his class and taking time away from learning. He also had an issue with personal space, as in he had no clue what it was. At times he would be in someone’s face and couldn’t keep his hands to himself, but just the same, he didn’t like people messing with him.
His brain couldn’t process times when he felt threatened, so when he felt like someone was “looking at him” or about the get near him his first and immediate reaction was to physically act out. Once an older little girl was walking down the hall in his general direction. She waved a sheet of paper in another students face, and as she continued to walk in Gus’ direction, he thought she was going to do it to her too. He wasn’t going to let that happen, so he punched her in the stomach. That was just one example of the countless calls we’ve received over his three years in elementary school.
I don’t share this to point out the issues we’ve had over the past few years, just the opposite. I share because I am so proud of all of the work and progress our sweet boy has made. He still has his bumps in the road, but they are fewer and far between. He now has a group of friends that he likes to hang out with, but will also branch out and make new friends as well. He has taken gymnastics and tennis lessons in a group setting which may seem like no big deal, but it is for Gus. It is a huge deal, and for that I am so proud of the person he is becoming. His journey is far from over, but I am so lucky to be this sweet boy’s Mommy!