For Sensory Processing Disorder and fire house visits are not always a good mix. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile input involved with a fire department open house can prove over-stimulating. In years past, such sensory experiences put our son into overload at times, resulting in a hodge podge of bolting, melt downs and similar dampers on an otherwise delightful day.
Not this year!
This year, more times than one, I was the one taken aback, not by over-stimulation, but by the satisfying realization of how far our son has come.
He never used to be able to tolerate getting his picture taken or his fingers printed for safety I.D.’s. This year, he got into it.
Demonstrations, such as cooking safety ones, used to over-stimulate him. Now, they just provide an opportunity for him to ask a zillion questions!
Tearing him away from safety videos used to bring on meltdowns. Now, he comes and goes from the video peacefully, using the video, to some degree, as a regulation tool.
Police dog demonstrations sometimes caused a form of stimming (which, at the time, I did not even know was stimming). Now, he can take a front row with his sister to watch and learn.
Face painting used to be a tactile nightmare. Now he is an old hat at it and, where he used to take forever to say what he wanted on his face – sitting almost like a deer in headlights even before the painting began, even after asking for his face to be painted – he now walks right up and challenges volunteers to paint some of his favorite things, like Star Wars blasters and light sabers. And – bonus – he'll actually look directly at the camera for a picture afterward. (Eye contact with peopel and camera was a huge challenge in the past.)
He used to need Daddy to hold him during fire demonstrations, now he volunteers Daddy to go put the fires out.
And, he used to come home so in need of huge amounts of sensory regulation activities that directly involved us that the other children were unfortunately ignored for a few moments by at least one parent. Now, he joins Sister, Brother and us in saving our house from pretend fires.
Due to his sensory needs, our son used to get the lion’s share of our attention at family days like the fire house open house if Mike and I failed to make a concentrated effort to ensure his siblings got their fair share of Mommy and Daddy time. Now, without so much orchestrating, everyone has their special moments, both one-on-one and together, and we all enjoy the day that much more for it.
Oh, what gratitude is in my heart today, not just for our local fire department’s generous open house, but also for the opportunity it provided for me this year to see that my son has made great progress and continues to do so. A free family day of fun and a hope-filled perspective. It doesn’t get much better than that! Thank you, Lord, for an ideal Sabbath family day.
This post is being shared at Heavenly Homemakers Gratituesday.