The Trade

Dear Addie,

Part of adding new players to our team requires very in depth discussions of where we have been and where we should go from here. Where should we begin? ...again.

It didn’t take us long to find ourselves on the same page thinking your anxiety might be the perfect place to start.

You see baby girl, your hypersensitive auditory system has been a relentless enemy for as long as we can remember. Unpredictable sounds in unfamiliar places. Anticipation of auditory assaults not only outside of our home, but also present in what is to be your safe space of our home. All this resorting to and struggling with uncomfortable headphones just to go to the store, church, or drive to school...seemingly effortless tasks for most. The wrong sound or anticipation of such could result in fight or flight in a matter of just seconds.

It’s all so much for your young self to manage, and a real heart breaking struggle (to say the least) for us, as your family, to try and help you with.

Your reclusiveness to your room was becoming more and more. This being one of the few places you could find control of your anxiety and fear. It is here that predictability is present for you.

We felt that “exposure is key” advice growing not only even more difficult than it already was to execute, but the realistic possibility of carrying it out slowly slipping away.

Yep, we’d like to start there, anxiety.

Like I had mentioned before, every new step also involves a waiting period to see if this new step is in the right direction.

While I’m happy to report we’ve made marked positive progress in the right direction relating to your anxiety - we may have fallen into a vicious cycle of trading “this for that.”

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Allow me to explain.

At roughly 18 months old we received your first diagnosis of sensory processing disorder or SPD for short. This involved many aspects not only from basic auditory or tactile senses but also proprioceptive and vestibular senses. Those big fancy words are all in relation to your body’s ability to move through your environment effectively and stay balanced.

You my dear are hypersensitive with your auditory senses and just about everything else - hyposensitive, meaning you need more and more and will continuously seek it out until the need is met.

Proprioceptive is related to anything with pressure to your muscles and joints, so things like squeezing, hanging, climbing, and jumping, all of these meet this need.

Vestibular involves anything with movement, like spinning, swinging, or climbing something high - really high in your case.

With your anxiety beginning to be more manageable, you emerged from your reclusion of your room and your exploration and sensory seeking have gone into overdrive!

Insert Addie “Evel Knievel” Menzo!

That’s right Addie, You seem to have graciously passed your anxiety on to us as we struggle to stay a few steps ahead of you and your love of death defying heights attempting to get the sensory needs met.

You are a climber, which makes things extra fun around here these days. *Insert a healthy dose of sarcasm in that last statement.

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“Addie proofing” our house is exhausting and requires a great deal of creativity to accomplish any of it.

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I miss the days of “baby proofing” our houses when each of you were young. Looking back that seemed so easy and uncomplicated to where we are at now. Door locks, outlet covers, baby gates - ah yes, the simple stuff. It all seems so elementary for you at this point.

We need something more along the lines of trapeze netting and 12 in gymnastic mats everywhere in our house to keep you safe! Oh how I wish that was actually an acceptable or realistic option.

Maybe move a 12th time? Perhaps we just need a sprawling ranch sans window sills? Ha! But who am I kidding you’d surely find your way to the roof in no time.

So with anxiety at bay for you, operation keep sensory seeking Addie safe has begun for the rest of us.

The past week or two has been filled with researching and creatively modifying our house on a nightly basis. That’s 1000% not even an exaggeration!

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Balcony banisters have been adjusted to make them higher,

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window guards have been put in your windows to keep you from standing and perching there and we even set up scaffolding in your room to create a safe climbing structure that doubles as a sensory friendly fort.

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With your lack of fear, add in an abnormally high pain tolerance equals mamas heart skipping a beat far to frequently for my comfort!

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So while we may have traded anxiety induced screaming and fight or flight for dare devil stunts, I’m hoping (& praying) this is just a surge in new excitement of living with less anxiety.

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If there’s one thing I have been enjoying (other than “less” screaming) your proprioceptive senses have been seeking extra cuddly squeezes from mama :)

I love you baby girl!

Love,

Mom