Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Don't Lick That!

Little Dude has always had massive amounts of energy. Even when I was pregnant ultrasounds were difficult because he would never sit still long enough to get a clear picture.This is just his personality.

From the moment he was mobile he was testing the limits. He started climbing things very early and still climbs anything he can. The other day I walked out of the bathroom and found him standing on the back of his rocking horse reaching on his tiptoes for something on the kitchen counter. If the horse hadn't started to slide on the tile floor causing me to lunge to catch his, I might have stopped to take a picture. This kind of thing is a daily occurrence though, multiple times a day in fact, so I have plenty of pictures. I've developed a calm (exterior) approach when reacting to his dare-devil ways. If I say "no!" too much or too emphatically he tests it further. "Oh mom is excited about something! Let me see how excited I can make her!" So I try with all my might to calmly say "please get down", "please don't touch" (unless he's in danger of course). Sometimes I have to let him touch and let him test though. I have to pick my battles. If I didn't he'd constantly be hearing the word no, and I really do want him to explore and learn his limits. So if he wants to slide a dining chair around the house and use it to climb up and test all the light switches, then go for it Dude. If he can run instead of walk, he does. If he can jump instead of sit, he does. Constant motion.
This is his personality in a picture.
He saw an opportunity and took it. He was half way to the roof before I got to him. This was at 18 months old.
It's only recently that I started noticing some of his behaviors were a little more extreme than others. He would put everything, EVERYTHING, in his mouth. He started licking things too. That might make you giggle a little, but the things I've had to say lately are super strange. "Stop licking the dog gate!" "Stop licking the window!" I tried to remember when Squeaks outgrew the baby-everything-in-the-mouth stage and realized he is way past it. 

In my homeschool preparation reading I've come across sensory activities on many occasions. "Sensory" is a real buzz word in the preschool community these days. Sensory play, sensory development, and sensory disorders. Then one day I came across this article and it ticked a lot of boxes. I believe Little Dude may have a very mild sensory disorder, more specifically he is a sensory seeker. The input he's getting from his surroundings isn't enough for him. He needs more. 

I'm at the very beginning of learning about what this may mean for him, but like I said, I believe he has a very mild case. I've already made a few changes that have been helpful for him.

1. More outdoor time.
Outside play is important for kids anyway but even more so for a sensory seeker. The variety of landscapes, textures, sounds, smells, it just doesn't compare. Since we live in California, heat is generally the main thing that keeps us from being outside. But lately, I've started just opening up the back door and letting him loose anyway. If he looks hot I make him drink water and ask if he wants to come in, but if he's happy I just let him do his thing. As a bonus this has also improved his independent play. Sometimes Squeaks would rather be inside while he's out, so if he wants to play outside he's on his own (well, with me anyway). 

2. Chew-lry
Chewable jewelry. This was a suggestion from a friend whose son has a pretty severe sensory disorder. He also had issues with everything going in his mouth, chewing on weird stuff, licking, etc. This I think is Little Dude's main sensory need. If his paci isn't in his mouth something else is and it drives me crazy. So I went in search of a safe alternative and found this ridiculously cute silicone shark tooth. It's made specifically for toddlers to chew on. Score! And he loves it.
Diggin' on his chewlry while watching a movie.

3. No more artificial food dyes.
This one was easy and something we were actually going to do even if LD hadn't had sensory issues. I've read so much about how artificial dyes affect kids behavior it's crazy. Did you know they're even illegal or at least require a warning label in Europe!? New info to me. About a month ago Little Dude had a particularly rough few days. In addition to his normal bouncing off the walls, he was whiny. Super whiny. Like I was tempted to lock him in a closet just to get away from the whining. Then I came across an article about how artificial food dye is basically poison and has a huge list of side effects. Asthma, sleeplessness, mood changes, it goes on and on. So I went digging through our cabinets in search of food dyes. I found very little because we shop at Trader Joe's for 99% of our groceries and they don't use artificial dyes in their products. But much to my surprise I found red 40 in the children's Tylenol I had been giving him when he was cutting molars. Ugh!! So we stopped using it and the whining subsided. I mean, he is still two years old, so there's still whining, but it improved greatly. No more artificial dyes for us!

4. Probiotics.
This is not new information for anybody. There are endless blog posts and articles about the benefits of probiotics for every aspect of life. Improved sleep, digestion, mood. So I did some research and found a good children's probiotic. This is the kind of thing you really have to stick with to see results. It's not an overnight improvement. LD has been taking them with breakfast for a few weeks now though and I believe I'm beginning to see benefits. He slept through the night five nights in a row! Before this I could count on one hand how many times he had slept through the night since he had been born! Woohoo!

So do you have experience with sensory disorders? How has it affected your daily life and what steps have you taken to overcome it?

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