Sensory Overload

Autism

At times, I do feel like my former diagnosis was the cause of her disorder. I mean, I watch how she gets overstimulated and frustrated by some of the craziest things and her emotional reaction to it reminds me of my years of battling ADHD and bipolar depression. As a matter of fact, I’ve actually read some things on how ADHD and ASD are related. No question about it, I actually agree. Although she hasn’t been diagnosed with ADHD, there is no doubt at all that she is hyperactive. When she was 6 weeks old she started showing us all kinds of signs of overstimulation. Every night at bedtime she would cry for hours! Dosing off and waking back up screaming which we were convinced to be colic after so long of dealing with it. Up until I was 6 months pregnant with her sister, those days when we would visit friends and family she would completely go into overload. No one could hold her, touch her or even talk to her. She would cry and cry and only want me. She would cover her ears and bury her face into me and just completely tune people out when they would try to speak to her. It got to the point that on holidays I would have to take her away from the crowd of people just so that she could calm down and enjoy herself. Eventually it got to when I started leaving events earlier than I normally would because I knew what was too much for her (and too much for me) and of course leaving events early has now become a habit. Here I am 6 months pregnant, straining myself with this higher than average sized 1 year old everytime she had an overload. So I was so glad when family finally started getting that she didn’t want to be trampled with hugs and kisses at full force and to give her some time to warm up before approaching her. Sometimes it can be a good thing and other times it can be disappointing. I started noticing when her reaction to the sensory overloads started changing. Not much crying anymore but she found her own way to stim. It began with a necklace I use to wear to work, a long pearl necklace, she was demanding to have it when I took it off. I just had to watch and see why would she want a necklace so badly. She would just stir it up, ball it up, or whatever she could do that was stimulating to her and she would do it repeatedly for long periods of time. Same things when I started noticing how she wouldn’t play with toys like a normal toddler would and she would just gather any thing she could possibly get her hands on that was NOT a toy (most times) and stir them up and hold them up to eye level and watch them fall out of her hands, over, and over for long periods of times. She does the same thing to anything paper, grass, and leaves too. She never really lined anything up but she would stack items in a pile and then stir them up repeatedly. It never bothered me because it usually keeps her occupied. Until now, I have realized that she does it when stressed, overwhelmed, sleepy, bored, or anxious. A lot of disappointing things happened within a matter of 5 days a couple of weeks ago, they were pretty stressful events that were too difficult for a toddler to understand, not to mention a toddler who is delayed in communication. I started seeing her behavior regressing everyday afterwards. She started crying a lot more, stimming a lot harder (instead of stirring the toys she would throw them up in the air repeatedly, and pouncing really hard on furniture repeatedly), transitioning got difficult again, she wouldn’t sleep in her own bed and her teachers at school said that she had gotten aggressive, which completely shocked them. I cried some nights because it was becoming overwhelming for me as well, being a temporary single parent for months at a time, with a baby attached to the hip all the time and a extra special needy toddler on top of the issues surrounding us. I just felt alone, I felt drained, I felt like I was letting her down because I didn’t know where to go from here or what to do to make her feel better because I was literally stuck between a rock and a hard place. Here she is trying to tell me something and she can’t really say anything, “I miss daddy” “why this” “why that”? It’s very emotionally and mentally draining. I realized I was missing something, and that was God’s word. I had fell off pretty hard on keeping myself connected to Him, so I started reading and praying again in order to find peace for myself so that I could focus on my babies. Within that time of clearing my head, I noticed how badly she wanted to sleep with me every night and I finally gave in, I don’t usually let her because she is super hyper and will constantly move until she falls asleep and she can be pretty rough sometimes. I let her sleep right next to me for a full night and the very next day she woke up a completely different person. She was calmer, more patient than the days before, hardly any stimming and I even get a good report from her teachers. She needed that comforting moment to just wind down and if I would have known that was all she needed, I would have tried that the very first night. She is sleeping next to me as we speak and things have still been pretty good! So here I am, camped out with 2 little sleeping beauties every night Not sure how long this is going to last though. Daddy will be back home soon!

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