Monday, October 1, 2018

Music Mantra Monday ~ A Tribute to Children and Families With Special Needs (Karen Taylor-Good)

Today kicks off a month-long campaign to help raise awareness for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and conditions stemming from it. Although I have personal insight into this disorder, which effects thousands of children and families worldwide, I'd like to keep the focus on those seeking help in their own situations.

SPD is a highly misunderstood and misdiagnosed condition. It is also considered more of an 'invisible' disorder because we can't physically see it. We can't see what's going on inside of a child's body. We can't see how the dysfunction in their sensory systems causes them so much pain. We can't see how their brains struggle to interpret and process the sensory information bombarding it at every moment. All we can see is their physical reactions (eg: tantrums, blow ups, running away, covering ears/eyes/mouths, ripping clothes that don't 'feel right', etc.). Because of this, they are often written off as 'difficult', 'hard to deal with', 'not trying hard enough' or even 'in need of hard discipline'. Which couldn't be further from the truth.

Their reactions stem from becoming overwhelmed with the brain not being able to tell the body how to react to sensory stimuli. But they don't know how to tell you that. As parents, you're supposed to know how to make what's going on inside of them better or stop, right? How can a parent be expected to do that unless they have the proper resources and tools? The key is seeking out the proper assessment and the right treatment plan, as early as possible.

Next to that, the most important thing to do is raise the level of understanding. The child needs to understand what is going on inside of him, and recognize what he needs to 'feed' his body the right sort of sensory input so he can live right alongside his peers. Parents need to not only understand this, but should also arm themselves with resources and information to help others understand their child. This is how we advocate.

Anyone can see a cause that needs more attention drawn to it and say, "HEY! That's wrong. I'm going to run for those that have this." That's admirable, caring and needed. But the best way to help that cause is to read about it, learn about it, live with it in some way, talk to others that deal with it and truly know why that cause needs you to speak for it. THAT is advocacy.

It's a circle that begins and ends with the child. A child shows signs that something may be wrong beyond what a parent can do on their own. The parent researches and finds the specific help for the child so he can function more productively. The child sees his parent standing up for him, giving information and doing all they can to help others see him as a whole child, and not simply judging him for the reactions he displays. Finally, the child uses what he's learned, coupled with what he sees his parents achieving, and can then advocate for himself. Then, the circle is complete. It can often take a long time to get to that point, but it can, and will, happen.

These parents need more from us than sympathy. They need us to be willing to see what isn't obvious. And, in the end, the child will be so grateful to you for trying.

Enjoy today's music mantra tribute song, and share with someone you think may need it.

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