This week I was on a mission to find some sensory fun for everyone - and the best news is that I succeeded! I recently discovered that the Jump Street in Cary, NC offers a "sensory friendly" hour on the first Saturday of every month - score! You love jumping and with less sensory distractions, this was sure to be a winner. So we packed ourselves up and headed out.
Here's a little refresher on your love for jumping. Jumping is like giving a big ole' high 5 to your proprioceptive and vestibular senses (ahhhh yeah, science loves to use big, fancy, complicated words). Proprioceptive senses help you understand where your body is in relationship to itself, while vestibular senses help with coordination and balance. Jumping helps do all this - and it's super fun! Win, win! Except...
While this idea might seem like the perfect answer from the sensory Gods, places like Jump Street can actually cause you great distress. Most of the time they are housed in warehouse type facilities with nightmarish acoustics for your auditory processing. Add a TON of people moving and jumping every which way, birthday parties with their sea of balloons (you despise balloons...), bright colors, lights and most often the sound of fan motors (which keep all the blow up rooms inflate) - right down to the wristband that they make you wear. Sadly it can often end up more like a lose, lose. Not only are you unhappy - but everyone there is treated to the high pitched shrills that you scream. Boooo. While the idea is good, it can turn into an epic meltdown for you my dear in about 10 seconds flat. The story of our lives, right?!
It's kinda like this: Let's pretend chocolate cake was good for you (just for this story). You love it! Makes you really happy, right? And remember - it's crazy good for your body in this scenario ;). But now let's say you can have it, but only if you eat it while trying to swim in a pool full of jellyfish that are stinging you every 30 seconds while you're trying to keep your head afloat, trying desperately not get your cake all soggy and wet. Wow...all of a sudden that chocolate cake that was so good for you and that you truly loved and wanted has lost all appeal, because it's making you feel really frustrated, pained and sad.
It's cake Addie! Everybody loves cake...but just not like that :(.
So some would say "why even bother?" Well, when we first received your diagnosis we were told time and time again...exposure is key! Side note: They totally leave out the whole "it's gonna be one heck of a struggle" part though. That being said, I truly believe that the more we can let you experience certain environments, the more comfortable you will get. In return, you will be better prepared to handle sensory challenges as they are presented. You're not one for surprises (nor is mommy), so if we can take away some of the sensory surprises, and allow you to get comfortable with just the "basic" environment, you can then learn to slowly work your way up to being able to tolerate (or maybe even enjoy!) the sensory excitement. It's not often we find places that let us ease ourselves into tackling sensory distraction.
So keeping all these frustrations in mind, this Jump Street has been so kind as to offer an hour before they open for kids (and their siblings) just like you. There are far less people, no music, you're free to explorer, jump, stim, even lay down in the middle of the floor if you want. All without a wristband.
It's your hour baby girl! You're surrounded by people who just "get it" plain and simple. A whole place of friends, family and "unspoken connections." Even better, Clara and Gabe could connect and play with other siblings and not a single one is going to stare or question your actions. Just pure jumpy fun!
I was actually talking with another mom and a little boy walked right in between us...neither one of us hardly noticed, but the dad immediately started apologizing "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." It was an all to familiar script for every parent there. The mom turned to the dad and said "please, no worries and I think that phrase should be banned from this hour!" We both laughed and as crazy as it might sound...I felt so much truth to that.
So Addie there were no need for "I'm sorry's" and everyone had some good healthy jumping fun - free of judgment. Mission accomplished!
Looks like we may have found a place where you can have your cake and eat it too ;).
I love you sweet girl!