Life With Nine Kids

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Children/ babies with high needs & sensory issues...our little Layla-bug

I pulled my now 15 year old out of public school when she was eight because she was dreadfully unhappy; oddly seven years later Layla was dreadfully unhappy at home. She was restless, defiant, moody, and miserable. Since enrolling her in the school down the road she’s been excelling rapidly. Her teacher is impressed and has so many good things to say .Her dad and I are both surprised and not surprised at the same time. One of the biggest surprises for me was how quickly she has taken to spelling. She prefers to spell her spelling words out to us verbally. She’s thirsty to read the phonics books she brings home, books that I thought may be hard for her age and ability, but really she can read almost all the words without help. I knew that she was doing well at home already, but stubbonness and moodiness got in the way a lot!  Also, her desk at school is in an immaculate straight and tidy order. She likes the structure, she likes the work, she doesn’t mind sitting, she loves observing.

When she was at home she would ask to be taught all kinds of things, but once we started she quickly got mad at us. We still don’t really know why. I had her on the verge of telling time two years ago because she asked me to help her learn. Then one day she just would not listen. She is just a very moody and sensitive child. Layla has always been a high needs child. From the time she was about three months old: she cried, she was restless, she had to have routine, she wanted my long hair touching her face when she nursed. She had to have order and security. As an infant and toddler she acted as if something horrible had happened to her, but we were the only ones caring for her. She would only sleep at night with no naps, no resting, no breaks during the day. She screamed hysterically if she was taken away from me. A few times we tried to just let her cry and "get over" the separation from me. This would only last 5-10 minutes because the screams were uncontrollable; in a way that no child should ever be made to cry. She needed me. Her own dad couldn't hold her hardly at all until she was 18 months old. She got frustrated easily. I wouldn't describe her as an unhappy baby because she looked happy and was joyful a lot, but she was very, very picky and needy. If she was in my arms she smiled and laughed at her dad and siblings. She was and still is an avid observer.

As she got a bit older we could finally see some of the things that were upsetting her and making her scream: bumpy socks, most shoes, underwear, seams inside the armpits of shirts, certain types of ruffles on clothing (she called them curtains). Before two years old she could dress herself, and when she did she tore through her closet and drawers to the point where I had to eventually box most her things up because the ones she didn't like would just end up all over the floor in a mess. She would try everything on until it had the right color, texture, cut, and feel to it. It’s unbelievable to recall that at just two years old she would throw huge fits over the way her clothes felt. At three and four years old she would collapse into a puddle of angry sobs several times a week. She had/has sensory problems. She has not outgrown this problem completely, but she has made so much improvement. She’s able to cope with it most of the time and her problems with clothes seem at a more manageable level. Starting school concerned me, but so far she is getting ready in the morning great and has only had two minor getting dressed issues since she started. One morning she freaked out because she missed the bus. She refused to go to school. She won't admit it, but I know it messed with her routine. Ricky and I helped her through it even though she was very mad with us and we took her to school. She went in the car unwillingly (Ricky carried her), but she walked into school willingly once we got there.

As the clothing issues got a little better her tantrums over other things got worse. Things embarrass her, but you never, ever know what. If she wants our help sometimes she will get mad and storm off frustrated and cry. She had and still has a very hard time with problem solving her feelings. Like anything though with the negatives also come positives. Although she hates problem solving her own emotions, she’s fantastic at problem solving in an academic way. She’s also extremely attentive and helpful to her siblings. When she’s happy she’s a funny ball of energy and delight we love to be around.

She’s always been hardest on me. She’s left me feeling so very hurt and abused at times. She made me cry when she turned four because she refused to look at the darling cake I made for her. If something catches her the wrong way it will ruin her for at least an hour. She loves routine. I can’t imagine what this child would be like if something bad had ever happened to her. If she had been: mistreated, abused, in a home that was anything but stable and loving, or If she had been made to cry uncontrollably until she passed out from exhaustion as a baby.

Dear Layla,
I hope we can help you through your toughest times while you are young. We have many more years to help you learn self control and how to cope with the unexpected. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come. Some kids are born blank slates and some are born with high expectations. Keep reaching high because no one gets far on low expectations.

Thank you for the school papers you bring home; your drawings, your journals, your sentence papers. They are almost all about ME. I haven't pointed them out to you, but I've noticed. Over the past 7 years your anger is sometimes  directed to me and it hurts me, even though I know I'm your safe person. These papers you bring home heal me and remind me during tough times that you love me.

Recent papers:
I Love my mother.
The moon glows at night.
I love you.

just a picture i love

My ball is in a big meadow, perhaps I will get it back.
I heard my mom in the meadow. She was getting my ball.
Then we saw a dog doing funny stuff...

free spirit

My mom is fun. She does fun stuff with me. I like that my mom takes me places. I like when my mom buys me puppies and kitties. I love my mom.


Molly said...

Sniff. This post totally brought tears to my eyes! I'm glad school is working for her. I was really curious what would happen. I'm impressed with how open and flexible to experience you have been about it and I'm excited for Layla that she is thriving there. It seems like it is a good match for her and I can't even find the word to describe what it is that I feel about you having the "guts" to "let" her go--I don't know how to word it exactly, but it is brave to me, to act on the side of your child. Always. Even in the face of it counteracting something that you believe in for the other children in your family.

Anonymous said...

I hope if I someday have kids I can do it as beautifully as you and Ricky. I'm wiping my tears away and blowing my nose after reading this. Love you Shauna, happy to know someone like you.-Nicci Lancaster

Mom of a bunch of great kids... said...

Thanks Molly and Nicci! I had not realized I'd written anything that touching until your comments. :) I'm glad I wrote all of that out to share with others, and for Layla in the future.

Thanks for understanding Molly! It's not exactly easy!

Love you Nicci. You'll be an awesome mom. You are a sweet, smart, and happy young woman. All those traits make for GREAT moms.

Kimberly said...

Oh, this touched me and brought a sniffle to me as well! The little poem is so beautiful! She must have needed the structure, and the arena away from you in order to express her very deep connection with you, TO you!

You are amazing, Shauna! Your whole family is, and you are all so lucky to have each other!

So much love!!!