Thursday, September 11, 2008


For 9/11, it seemed like such good morning today, the struggle of getting 3 kids out the door for school smooth as all critical elements fell into place, until....

Until my son said that no, actually, he couldn't wear the shoes that his father had somehow managed to coax him to wear today, the shoes that were bought in August for school, the shoes that he'd worn for about a week before he informed me that they were suddenly too small. I convinced him to wear them since it seemed too cold for sandals, so once again, he consented to wear them, but without socks.

Stupidly, I let him. My punishment and his was the small blister forming on the place where the heel bone rubs up against the back of the shoe. So I left him at school and walked the 9 blocks home to get him different shoes. Then I walked the 9 blocks back. All the while carrying a seriously heavy load of SLR on my back. 27 blocks even before the arduous work day started, in which I would need to figure out how to take attractive pictures of large lacquered case goods in terrible lighting situations.

Some of my kids seem to suffer from Tactile Defensiveness, a condition of hypersensitivity to touch that can make finger painting your child's private hell, and which can turn the seam that runs across the toe of the sock into a menacing lash of doom. When my oldest was in Pre-K her teacher noticed it in her so I took her to "Occupational Therapy" where the occupation we undertook to reduce her sensitivity was brushing up and down her hands and arms with a hair brush. I had instructions to brush her hands every day, and also to expose her hands and feet to slime, goo, dough, and to let her stand in pots of things like dry beans. She loved it. I'll have some fun with my son's feet soon, I think, I plan to exact my revenge by spraying them with whipped cream and then binding them with some twine. I'll brush them and brush them. I'll make him special shoes from reinforced tissue boxes full of dry chickpeas. Then, when he goes to put on his Sketchers or whatever, they should feel pretty good.

My kids have this condition only slightly compared to many others I think, from what I just read, here. These few paragraphs help inspire me to be more compassionate with my little torturer...

Many children with tactile defensiveness will only use their fingertips (if they even DO touch certain things) when playing with sand, glue, paint, play-doh, food, glitter etc. Consequently, their play is limited and so is their ability to engage in learning experiences.

Children may become fearful, avoid activities, withdraw, or act out as their body responds with a "fight-or-flight" response.

Why does this happen? It's all about the way in which one's nervous system interprets touch sensations and stimulation. I suspect you too would react with a "fight back" or "flee" response if any of the above listed items to YOU felt like sandpaper rubbing against your skin or 10 spiders crawling up your arm that you can't get off.

It is not their fault! It is absolutely 100% about the WAY in which their nervous system interprets a tactile stimulus! Please don't blame them or punish proactive and help them get the treatment and accommodations they need!

I'm so tired now, at least I could leave work a little early and sneak into Windsor Shoes to get him a pair he might be able to wear, but do I dare to hope? I got 2 pairs there for him to try. Meanwhile, I have this tiredness, nothing like the tiredness of rescuers running up and down the World Trade staircases like Jacob's angels, nothing like the exhaustion of those trying to find survivors before time ran out, nothing like the enervation of the living waiting to hear about their loved ones, nothing like the weariness of the dead trying to find their way home. Somewhere I read the account of a rescue worker who after leaving the disaster site at the end of a day's work found himself wandering up to Grand Central for a train to Connecticut, even though he didn't live in Connecticut. There are people like that, I think. They pick up stowaways.

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