Sunday, January 26, 2014

No vest for the weary

Kiddo wears a weighted vest at school. Not all day, but at timed intervals; X minutes on, X minutes off, that sort of thing. It's supposed to help with his sensory issues, since he doesn't feel grounded, doesn't "know where his body is in space," as the therapists say; to ground himself, he might otherwise "seek input" by crashing into things and/or people. (Or my hip. That's been going on for years. A hug from kiddo is more like a full-body assault. I'm used to it, and will brace myself when I hear him coming so I don't topple over.) Also, carrying the extra weight around -- aka "heavy work" -- helps burn off some of the extra energy. At least in theory.

In practice, he's been complaining at school about it, wanting to take the thing off as soon as he gets there. He's never said anything to us about it, but maybe he thinks we won't listen. Or maybe getting out of the house is such a monumentally herculean task every single weekday, requiring the extensive use of timers and repeated instructions and occasional threats ("OK, you can skip breakfast today if you don't want to get dressed. I'm going downstairs, bye." Obviously a threat we've never carried out. But still), that he's just doing what he's asked so he can be done more quickly. Because doing any routine sort of anything hurts his brain.

This came up during our meeting with the school last week, set up because he's also been shutting down approximately after lunch, lying on the floor, refusing to do his work, basically hiding in the sensory corner. We were trying to figure out how to settle him so he could focus on the work, which his teacher (and I) are positive he can do, because he's smart.

By the way? I love that his teacher set up a sensory corner in the classroom, even if kiddo would rather spend all day in it than do his work.

I'm not sure what to think about the vest. He's never had an issue wearing it before. But possibly, he's finally noticed that the other kids don't wear one.

"Hypersensitivity" is another part of the whole ADHD puzzle. It means ADHDers are very, very aware of what the people around them are doing or saying, like having antennae permanently at work, and are liable to think they're being criticized or laughed at when they're not.

One time a year-plus ago, kiddo and I were walking through a parking lot, and maybe 20 feet away were a couple of teenage girls, laughing to each other. Kiddo was utterly convinced that the girls were laughing at him, because he'd just lost his toy car. I explained to him that 1. they were total strangers, 2. they were twice as old as he was, 3. they were too far away to hear or be heard and 4. why would they care about his car anyway? And yet I couldn't shake him on it. That's the sort of thing we occasionally deal with.

So, is he being hypersensitive about his vest? Has it outlived its usefulness? His teacher is going to switch him over to a weighted lap blanket for parts of the day to see if that makes a difference.

The other possibility is, well, he's just tired. It is, as every other adult on the planet is fond of pointing out to me, a long day. (Gosh, and I do appreciate the daycare guilt. Thanks.) He'll still take a nap if you let him. How do I know? It's 5 p.m. on Sunday and he's napping right now. And has been since about 2. (I suspect he's going to be annoyed when he wakes up to discover it's too dark to play in the snow. Sorry, kid.)

So if he's just too tired, what do I do, start sending him to school with mocha lattes? Slip a Red Bull in his backpack? Because while he can lie down at the nurse's office for a few minutes as needed, they don't do naptime in first grade.

At the school meeting, we agreed that they would adjust his behavioral chart, add in more little breaks throughout the day and give him extra chances to move around, in addition to using the blanket. Maybe it'll help, maybe not. If he really is too tired to function, does he need a 6 p.m. bedtime? And in what universe would that be logistically possible?

Tell you the truth, I don't blame him. One of the more disappointing things about adulthood is the lack of naps. Or maybe it's no summers off. Yeah, it's that.

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