I often write about how SPD affects my kiddies and our family but I have never written about the fact that I also have SPD. So here is a very personal post.
I spent a lot of my childhood in a small country town in South Africa, there was lots of space, not too many shops and not too much noise. I never knew at the time but it actually suited me. When my parents moved to a bigger town I spent one year in a much bigger school. I hated it !! It was big, loud and busy. I never relaxed there, at the time everyone just use to say “aah it is the country girl ” and that somehow explained it. I remember often escaping to my Aunt’s classroom (she taught at the school) I am so thankful she was there.
My parents moved me to a lovely smaller high school and I loved it. The classes were the right size for me and it had a lovely art department where in my later school years I could escape and find peace. Only now that I have spent years trying to understand my kiddies and their SPD can I understand how being able to spend my afternoon’s in the art department was so important for me.
In school I could never spell (still can not). When my teachers would try to say “sound out the word, what are the sounds?” it just meant nothing to me. I use to get so frustrated but sounding out a word – WHAT DID THEY MEAN??? I could never hear the sounds. I know understand that I am very sensitive to noise, like my daughter. I get startled by noises and I often get woken up in the night by a noise that no-one else ever seems to hear (well except for my daughter sometimes). Part of the noise issue is – I battle to focus if there is too much going on. So if other people are talking I will often battle to focus on what someone is saying to me and will need to get them to repeat it over and over again. For me it is a case of I just hear everything, and it gets very loud. So when my teachers where trying very hard to tell me to sound out a word, I honestly struggled because there was just too much noise in my head and I could not focus on the single sound. With my daughter I have learnt how important it is for her that when we work on phonics we do so in a quiet environment, no outside noise, no movement to distract. I have learnt that even a lawn mower in the neighbour’s garden is enough noise to make focusing on sounds hard.
After school I went to University, qualified as a Chartered Accountant and ended up working for a number of large international companies in London. Yes I lived very happily in a large city like London. But all through these years I did things instinctively which allowed me to cope, I always gave myself downtime. I never realised why I did certain things it was just instinct. When I was at University I would often go and sit in the library and read between lectures and I never went out with my friends more than one night in a row. One night of going out was always enough for me. Living in London my husband and I have always lived in areas on the outskirts of London, areas where there are quiet coffee shops and open spaces. I always avoided going to shops or the high street when it is busy. Instinct I guess, instinct that to cope with the week I needed some quiet over the weekend.
It was only after my daughter was diagnosed as having SPD and her therapist and I spent hours together that we eventually both realised I also had SPD (well I think she knew from the beginning but she gently guided me until I realised it for myself). Being classed as that county bumpkin, or a sensitive child was actually my SPD showing but at the time no-one knew. So yes I was a bit of a home body and I enjoyed getting lost reading a book or painting a picture but in the end I think I turned out okay.
I qualified as a Chartered Accountant, I had a succesful career before kids, I am still married to my hubbie (which if I was in Hollywood would be classified as a huge accomplishment) and most importantly I have two amazing kiddies.
So even as a kid growing up with SPD I did okay. I enjoy my life, I have friends and I have travelled all over the world and I have had/ still do have fun.
I know my SPD is not as severe as my kiddies but the fact that I lived my life and managed fine gives me hope that my kiddies will also be just fine. And it also helps me understand them and understand their needs.
I have a very strong belief – We are only ever given that which we can cope with !!
I think my daughters therapist wanted me to acknowledge that I have SPD because she knew, if I thought about why I instinctively did certain things growing up it would help me understand my kids. I think she was right. I do understand how stressful IKEA can be for my kids (I get super stressed in IKEA), I understand how finding a craft activity can relax my kids and calm their minds, I also know how important home time is and routine. And in those dark moments, I also know that with loving supportive parents my kids are going to be just fine !