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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 16 December 2011
Just how far can I stretch a metaphor?
Watch me... I'm a preacher....

You may have read my post several months ago about arriving in Budapest when I thought I was headed to Rome (parenting -wise, that is).
Well, it turns out it isn't even Budapest (stretch that metaphor!), but another destination, which may look like Budapest, but is really a whole other city!

Monday we had a very thorough and understanding (bless him!) appointment with a pediatrician (in Canada we only go to a pediatrician as a specialist by referral, not as a matter of course). His diagnosis is that Rowan is an excruciatingly sensitive child with significant anxiety as a result and NOT ADHD.

Her entire history speaks to neurological sensitivity.
She has allergies and eczema.
She had GERD (reflux) and food sensitivities.
She reacts strongly to all physical stimuli~ ie. hunger is experienced as stomach pain, hair brushing is a delicate task etc.
She is emotional reactive, sensitive to any negative nuances, prone to meltdowns when overwhelmed.
She is sensitive to touch, clothing, loud noise, strong tastes, smells.
To thoughts, ideas~ scary stories, pictures, movies... and imagined scary things, too.
To any sort of change.

And so on.

It is exhausting, some days, for all of us.

The doctor was very compassionate and understanding.
(The very fact that I wanted to talk to him with Rowan out of the room confirmed his diagnosis~ she would have been dreadfully hurt to hear us discuss her 'problems').
He 'gets' that everything about Rowan~ her experiences and her personality, is intense.
And that as a result, she becomes easily overwhelmed by things that pass others by~ all of which can lead to pathological expressions like anxiety, obsessive compulsiveness (Ro is currently hoarding rocks and leaves as a coping mechanism), tics (which she has expressed since 18 months of age), sleep issues (life long) and attention issues (focus, prioritizing, staying on task are all difficult when anxious + bombarded by stimuli).
Down the road, the umbrella diagnosis of Tourette's may be applied, but at this stage it Anxiety with a capital 'A'.

It was (is!) a lot to take in.
The 'treatment' is a safe, stable peaceful environment as much as possible, ongoing work with a mental health professional for cognitive behaviour therapy (learning to cope, relax, respond), responding to the ADHD like behaviours with strategies to help her cope and lots of patience(!).  Ideally, if her anxiety is curbed, the other issues will ease as well.

Honestly, I am relieved to have an explanation.
To have someone put it all together and recognize that our happy, brilliant, creative, quirky kid struggles to express her gifts, and that we as parents have hoed a difficult row!
To have it all put together~ that we are not just rotten parents because our kid doesn't sleep, is afraid of everything, has tantrums at 6...
The doctor was very realistic (it ain't gonna be easy!), but also very positive~ that Rowan's sensitivity is a GIFT to herself, to us and to the world.  That as a person who leads with her feelings, who is compassionate and kind because she senses others' feelings as well, she can be happy, confident and live into her potential.

As I read more about 'highly sensitive' people, I recognize myself, both physically and emotionally, too.
And while I worry~ her latest tic includes blinking and rubbing her eyes until they are red and even begin to bruise~ I also know that we can do 'this', whatever it is, whatever name they decide to call it.  And understanding what we are dealing with is a HUGE step in the right direction.

Oddly enough, over two years ago I purchased a copy of Your Highly Sensitive Child.  I have taken it out again, found my old notes confirming this trait in Rowan, and begun reading it again.

Parenting is always a tough job!
And we rarely end up where we expect to be.
But I wouldn't be any where else.

5 comments:

Paula said...

Hmmm, a lot of that sounds like my Ella. Not to the same extreme but very similar. I'll have to check out the book you suggested. She seems to be getting more sensitive as she turns 6.

Carrie said...

I'm glad you got some understanding of what you are dealing with. I know my nephew is extremely sensitive at least emotionally so I can feel some of what you are going through based on his experiences. Good luck! I know you will do a wonderful job helping her cope with it all.

Pom Pom said...

I like it that the doctor said that Rowen's sensitivity is a gift to herself. He loves children, I think.

Lori @ Beneath the Rowan Tree said...

Thanks for your comments! Yes, well put, this doctor definitely does love and respect children (and their parents!). ♥

Nicole said...

So glad you found a great doctor! Knowledge is power, and now all of you can work together to make life a little easier. Hooray!

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