Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So how was YOUR Halloween?

Our Halloween weekend started like this. For some reason due to climate change, location, valleys/mountains/swamps and topography, lightology and astrology, Central Massachusetts seems to be in some insane fault line/weather Bermuda triangle where we have recently had hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, microbursts and just this weekend, a blizzard in October.  We lost power for about 24 hours, which was short compared to some others around who still don't have it....

 Who doesn't love a snowstorm just in time for trick or treating?

First of, let's discuss a power outage.  It's pretty tough to conceptualize this to Owen, and he walked around all day Sunday with the remote in his hand unable to get why he couldn't watch football. He seemed off all day, as if also affected by the lack of electricity.  He didn't nap well either, he usually sleeps with the fan on (for noise blockage, white noise).  Just as we got to my mom's to spend the night, our power went back on and O was able to sleep in his own bed. 

Many kids have sensory integration or sensory processing disorders.    Certainly kids with autism have sensory issues, as do many kids with Fragile X, and as I've seen working with kids many have sensory issues with a variety of intensities that affects them different ways.  Sensory issues are what makes parades, fireworks, concerts, fairs, amusements parks and of course the best place on earth Disney SO MISERABLE for some kids and adults alike.
I learned more about sensory issues after working in the field of brain injury.  Many people who have suffered brain injuries, from traumatic external hits to strokes and oxygen deprivation, can experience a variety of sensory issues.   Many soldiers who have experienced IED's have sensory issues after.
Most of us have a 'filter' for our 'sensory brain'.  We filter out unneeded noises like the hum of traffic and computer.  Our eyes adjust to light to help our vision when we walk from indoors to out, and we are able to walk under the bright lights of a grocery store, close to strangers, our eyes scanning the shelves.  Our bodies read the ground we walk on and we adjust our gait and rhythm to steady ourselves.  Our skin feels comfortable in our clothes.
These aren't true for kids and people with sensory issues.  Their clothes feel too small, too tight, the waistbands hurt, the fabric rubs, the zipper bothers, they only can wear flip flops because shoes bother their feet.  It's like they have a thin layer of skin pulled off, exposed, and the raw skin is irritated that you don't even notice. 
 Kids and people with sensory issues sometimes have auditory processing problems, like being unable to filter out noise.  Every little noise is loud, a huge distraction, what was that door opening, outside the window, your clock is loud, did you hear a dog bark, is that a car going by?  All noises are heard, and loud places, like concerts, or fairs, or parades, are equal to painful, searing siren sounds in their heads that kicks in the fight or flight instinct.  Many kids are misdiagnosed with ADHD or have a coexisting diagnosis (like ADHD or anxiety) because of the problems sensory issues can cause with attention, distraction, and mood. 

Proprioception is the body's ability and awareness of itself in space.  Owen is completely lacking in this.  He runs into and trips over things constantly, he has no awareness of where he body is in relation to his surroundings.  This makes him very uncomfortable in new settings and certainly ground types. When he was younger he was afraid to walk from the flatness of the driveway to the grassy yard.  He would stand at the edge of the grass as if it were the edge of the ocean, afraid to dip his toe in. 

Kids and people with sensory issues can be overwhelmed by big places, crowds, bright lights.  Grocery stores, school hallways between classes, and Halloween can all be fear inducing.    Throw in some snow on the ground and this made for a Halloween we approached gamely but with full knowledge it would probably be closer to hellish.
B wanted to be Princess Tiana, and her idea was to dress O as a frog.  Cute, eh?  O showed a complete lack of interest in picking out his own costume, (which YES I did try numerous times) we went with the frog.  I had a feeling from recent experience that things were not going to go well with this....
I'm not wearing that!!!


Princess trying to kiss her uncooperative Frog.

Even Texas looks sad.  

We tried!!!! Time to take it off!

Trick or treating in the snow, Owen in protest.  

Owen whine/cried on and off throughout trick or treating, scared of the crowds and the costumes, refusing to walk in the cold on the snow and ice dotted streets, and eventually becoming pretty pissed off after an hour and a half.  By then we were ALL cold, hungry, and ready to be done with trudging through town in cold and snow.

Last year Owen wore a costume AND trick or treated.  Sigh.  Maybe again, someday.

We returned home, ripped open the stash, and Owen was happy to play with dad and his favorite lab Daisy....
We pushed through, made the effort, collected some candy.  There may come a day when Owen refuses to even go out, but hopefully another day will come when he will want to trick or treat.  The reminders chime, different, different, different, why can't we just be normal like everyone else on facebook.... But I refuse to listen and I acknowledge just for you.  My trick is to accept it, have the right expectations, and know that they are OK.  The grief is less, much less, but it twinges. Just a little. 


  1. Kathleen,

    Love the article in Bay State Parent! Love the blog site! Just love everything! Give my love, hugs and kisses to Owie and Bridget.


  2. I was wondering how Lucy would do on Halloween this year. This was the first year she could technically walk for trick or treating, but with her unsteady feet, we chose to pull her in the wagon. She made it to 3 houses & was cranky, tired & ready to go home. She went home with Daddy & fell right to sleep while little sister yelled Trick or Treat!! all over the neighborhood. :) Lucy did her best & was very happy to be home with Daddy & get some sleep, so I had to be ok with that. I guess I was just happy to get her dressed & out at all!

    -Elisha H.


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