Thursday, April 14, 2011

Josiah Screams (Or Used To)

    Ever since he was little, Josiah screamed.  I'm not talking about normal baby screams or if he was scared.  I'm talking about him screaming for what seemed like no apparent reason.  Screaming when people would come near, at parades, at the Dr.'s office...Screaming when you attempted to touch his hair, ears, or even wash his hands. 
    I would refer to his behavior as "screaming issues".  My husband and I didn't understand it- had we somehow encouraged this unwanted behavior?  Is it due to his lack of verbal communication?  Is there something wrong with him?  Is it a lack of discipline?  And, finally, Is it autism?
    Unfortunately, some family members alienated themselves from Josiah (and us) because of the screaming his, not ours).  We understand that screaming is very unpleasant to the auditory system, but we did not know what we were doing wrong, or how to handle it.
    Last year (after some comments from well-meaning friends) we investigated the autism lead.  This journey eventually led us to a website: http://www.spdfoundation.net/about-sensory-processing-disorder.html that explained Josiah's symptoms and gave us a sense of relief that we were not going insane.
    When Josiah turned 3 in October 2009, he could no longer receive his speech therapy at home, so he attended the local Head Start program 2 afternoons a week.  In January our county received special funding for an Early Head Start program, and Josiah was able to attend "school" 4 afternoons a week in an environment tailored more to his needs.  His teachers recognized some of his sensory issues and through consistent exposure, were able to help him adjust and complete tasks that he used to scream through.
     Now that we are more aware of the certain things that bother Josiah, we are working to help him overcome his sensitivities by exposing him to the things that bother him.  This, combined with the recent discovery that Daddy is his comfort zone (that was a complete shock-Mommy's are supposed to be the one a child wants when he's hurt or scared) has helped us plan activities and appointments better.
     Josiah's increased verbal activity has also helped him identify some of his feelings and wants/needs when it comes to doing activities that he is still sensitive to.  When I think about his progress over the past year, I'm so happy, I want to cry: he now wears gloves, hats (soft ones, tho-thanks Mom for figuring that out), masks (and is ok with people wearing masks/face paint), he washes his hands by himself, he behaves well in restaurants and other crowded places if Daddy is there, he no longer screams over loud noises, he lets the Dr. check his ears, and he doesn't scream while getting his hair cut.  His most recent achievement happened Tuesday when he had to get his finger poked because his iron level was low 2 months ago.  Last time he got poked, Daddy had to hold him tightly and calm him down.  This time, he bravely sat on Daddy's lap, and as the nurse was about to poke his finger, he asked if he could sing a song.  As he sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" loud and clear, his finger was poked and squeezed (to get blood on the glass slide) and Josiah barely winced.  He didn't fight the band aid that was applied to his wound, and he didn't even ask for it to be taken off that day.  We are so proud of our "little guy" and the amount of "issues" he has overcome!
    

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