Since I had no idea growing up what things like ADHD, SPD, ASD, OCD etc were I was mostly labeled as a “problem” child that is “stubborn” and “wont listen or do her work”, “often shuts down and wont cooperate” – I still have ALL my elementary report cards – those terms and phrases crop up more often than not. It was what it was.
The same thing applied at home when I wouldn’t eat certain foods due to their smell, taste or texture. It’s not like I enjoyed that or anything – and it’s not like I can change how my brain perceives these things because man did I try. But often I would be yelled at, forced to eat things I couldn’t handle until I gagged and sometimes threw up because well that is how it was. I couldn’t tell them how it really was for me – like someone was making me eat sewage because they didn’t understand why and likely I would have offended my Mom’s cooking – even though it wasn’t that.
With the kids now I try to push them to try a bit of something – I give them a tiny bit of it and I get them to try it – sniff it, lick it, chew it a bit whatever…if they still don’t then ok we will revisit it another time.
Sensory issues are tough to tackle sometimes, what sets us off one time may not the next or the one after that – then suddenly it does again. A lot of people don’t realize why this is. It’s pretty simple yet complicated, it depends on the time of day for one, the early the day the less likely it is to set us off as much as later in the day. By later in the day we have had to process so much already, we are exhausted, restless, agitate a bit and things get to us easier and faster when in that state. It can also happen in the early mornings if we didn’t get a good sleep – just not able to process things well enough and are frustrated by things easily. Another factor is what else is going on around us – if there is a lot of chaos and commotion it can be hard for us to process what is needed of us at that moment. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the situation in order to decompress and sort through things.
Now add in things like ADD/ADHD and things become exponentially more complicated for the sensory seeker/avoider. While on one hand we are impulsive with ADHD we may be an avoider when it comes to a lot of sensory things. We can also be a seeker and add in the impulse control or lack of in a lot of cases and you have an extremely crazy situation. We tend to be like a bull that see’s something moving – we just charge right ahead and often it becomes a act now think later situation. Now we may know better than to say jump on furniture or dart into traffic – most kids do Autism or not – what compels them is the impulse to just run – the feeling of adrenaline and the rush that happens – that is what compels them to do this they cannot fight the urge.
I used to think it was that Kiana didn’t understand – and then Kalea – but as soon as Kalea started doing it – even though Kiana had never shown awareness for the danger – she started grabbing onto Kalea and telling her no that’s not safe don’t do that. All along Kiana had gotten our safety lessons – she just didn’t show us until she had someone else that was littler to help learn these that she let us know she had understood.
Understanding and then reciprocating that is often difficult for us. Social stories, tv shows, apps etc – sure we can emulate what we see BUT putting it into use or showing someone outside of that controlled environment is a whole new situation. Now not all of us on the spectrum will get it – there are some that have a functioning level below that and have limited ability to process and understand multi step things.
ADHD makes it hard for us to focus – but that doesn’t mean we don’t hear you. Our brains are so busy we tend to just process parts of what are said and while that is going on we are processing bits of the rest of things that are going on arund us. Now for us Aspies that is a task and a half…we struggle with processing things at a rapid speed like others – so often a good portion of things said or what is meant is lost in translation. What we hear or process can often be way off of what was actually said or meant.
What helps is if we are given ONLY what is exactly needed – not a lot of fluff or fillers, the more you throw at us the less we hear. It’s not that we are trying to be rude but we can only process so much before we just kind of shut things out so we can figure out what was already said. Just don’t confuse us with a bunch of things that don’t need to be there – it makes us agitated and frustrated. It’s not personal it’s just how our brains are wired.
Best advice I got is break things down into chunks and let it rattle around in our brains a bit before adding more or asking us a bunch of questions. We are thinkers, often deep thinkers, if someone interrupts one of our “moments” where we are deep thinking and processing – it doesn’t go well. Staring off into space is often us deep thinking/processing what is going on deep inside our brains and not us just staring off into nowhere like we are gapping out – rarely do we “gap out” we deep think and process 🙂 Life as an Aspie with co-morbid conditions can be a challenge but hey that’s life 🙂