At our appointment with the neurologist on Tuesday, she mentioned that Raya had some sensory processing/sensory integration issues. I've heard that term before and have talked to a couple of parents whose kids have trouble in classroom settings because of "sensory issues" but I will admit that I had NO idea what else that term entails. One way to describe it is that for a person with sensory processing dysfunction, input that they receive through their senses is amplified or deamplified. (is that a word?) The brain misinterprets the signals that it's receiving from the body, such as light touch being painful or wearing soft cotton clothing but having it feel rough. For example, Raya wants to be held a lot, but doesn't like to be touched. I know that sounds contradictory, but when you pick her up, she pulls away from you and won't let you hold her close because the sensation she gets from being held close is uncomfortable for her. I've always taken that to mean that she just doesn't like to cuddle, but after what we did at physical therapy today, I'm starting to understand more of what it means to have sensory processing dysfunction. (I got a lot of good information from this website too.)
Raya's PT was showing me how to massage her to give her more sensory input. She started with Raya sitting on the floor in front of me and massaged one of her legs. It wasn't anything significant and really it was like she was just putting lotion on her legs. Raya was ok with the first leg, but as soon as she started on her other leg, Raya couldn't take it anymore. She started trying to get away from Hilary and climbing up me like a scared cat runs up a tree. Hilary also massaged her arms and hands and Raya couldn't handle that either. She wasn't as bad when she got her back & stomach rubbed but I think it's because she's pretty fascinated with her G tube so when we rubbed her tummy, she distracted herself by playing with the tube.
I'll put it this way. Most of us would like the way a massage feels. The kind of massage Raya was getting would be very soothing & relaxing to most people, but she acted like she was being tortured. I've never noticed the degree to which she resists touch and we've discussed recently how her dislike for snuggling is probably because she stopped being held to be fed when she was 5 months old. It's not that we stopped touching her completely, obviously, but that closeness that most babies develop from being cuddled and touched while they eat stopped for her 5 months ago. I know that's not the whole reason why she is the way she is and I'm choosing not to allow myself to have guilt about that, but wow, I never comprehended how significant holding your baby is in their developmental process.
In order to give her what she wants, i.e. being held without me really touching her, and in order to give her more sensory input and hopefully progress towards her being comfortable with touch, I got out the good ol' Moby Wrap. I bought it when I was pregnant with Raya for $15 at a consignment sale. I had a little Snugli carrier with kid #3 and I liked the whole baby wearing thing but wasn't totally in love with that particular carrier. I knew I'd love the Moby Wrap as soon as I saw it and I was right. It was AWESOME when she was teeny and having reflux problems & needed to be upright, and I could position her to help with her torticollis too.
Being that we live in a place that is the closest possible thing to the surface of the sun for 9 months out of the year, I haven't really used it since about April. Yesterday was a pretty cool day (it was only 90-something :) so I got it out. She was climbing my legs, crying, whining to be held, didn't feel good, and kept me at arm's length any time I did pick her up and it was driving me crazy. I put her in the Moby Wrap and she was out cold in 10 minutes. That NEVER happens. She NEVER goes to sleep when I'm holding her except for occasionally at church. I took full advantage and kept her in it until we both got hot & sweaty and then I put her in bed to continue her nap. I've missed snuggling with her.
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