I’ve mentioned here a couple of times that my daughter has sensory processing disorder. There’s a fair amount of writing about what this looks like with younger kids, but not a lot about how things change as they get older. And there’s a reason for that, it is definitely easier to manage now then it was when she was four or even seven. Then it was daily one to two-hour tantrums during the bad cycles, no sleep for anyone, never knowing exactly how her body was going to react to things (oh the stories I could tell). But slowly we figured out what triggers things (socks. seams. anything touching her head. noise. walking. balloons (OMG DON’T EVER HAVE BALLOONS)) We incorporated different sensory diet elements (lots of messy tactile, chewing, swinging). Lots of therapy. So much therapy. And as she grew up, she got better at understanding her reactions and navigating the world. Lately though we’ve seen some re-emergence. Its harder to implement the sensory diet things with a ten-year old. I can’t throw her in the bath all the time. If she paints, she no longer finger paints. And she feels like an outcast. I mean, she’s hormonal and entering tween-dom, so some of that goes with the territory.
This morning we had an episode. We’ve had several of these in the past week, so it’s probably a cycle. They seem to last 2-4 weeks and then resolve. I don’t know why. They are often triggered by transitions or anxiety. She’s at a theater camp now, which she LOVES, but I think it’s probably quite challenging for her. She’s mentioned that its loud several times. She wants to follow the rules and be right and be perfect and that creates so much anxiety for her. She has so much anxiety. About everything. I feel like I am failing her there, that I’m not giving her the right coping skills. I think its more than that though. I think there is probably an anxiety disorder. I don’t remember ever feeling like she seems to about the world. She covers all of this though, she was fine at camp, a model camper, rarely shows her anxiety at school. She doesn’t want to hurt her teacher’s feelings or have anyone think she’s less than perfect.
This morning there were needles in her shirt, omg there are needles poking me get them out, I can’t see them but they’re there. This bag HURTS my shoulder, why?? You’re pulling the hair out of my head stop what was that why would you do that!!!! There were no needles in her shirt, btw, and apparently it didn’t occur to her to just take a different bag. I was totally pulling all the hair out of her head though. Of course.
All this to say. Hey, I’m tired. I’m not sure what to do here. Dear internets, what therapist do I call now? How do I know what is normal teenager and what I need to help her through differently. I’m pretty sure needles in the shirt is not normal. I don’t think the level of everyday anxiety she operates under is healthy.
She’s an amazing kid. She’s smart and funny and so creative. I want her to live life with no needles in her shirt. And no anxiety about not being perfect. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.