Like squeezing yourself into a tiny kiddie ride because your daughter needs you to do that! Oh how I love this man!!
We went to Waldameer Amusement Park today for Shawn's work picnic. Our goal was only for Zoya to be in the way crazy overstimulating environment with as little anxiety on her part as possible. We did not intend on having her try any rides as we thought that would be way too scary for her, especially with the sensory processing issues we've been working with. I mean it took weeks just to get her to go on the merry go round at the zoo! This "frog hopper" ride was the second ride of three Zoya went on. We would have never thought about putting her on this ride since it bounces up and down and has so much movement but we stood and watched kids get on and off the ride and after a few times Zoya reached over toward it like she wanted to go on. Shawn and I were hesitant but I could tell she was really interested so we thought what the heck. We knew she wouldn't do it without one of us so Daddy got to be the lucky one to ride with her (he picked the short straw!). We didn't really think she'd do the ride and thought we'd sit her in the seat, she'd cry and we'd walk away without going on the ride. BUT SHE DID IT!!
Shawn thinks this is pretty funny.
Zoya is thinking, "seriously you kids think this is fun? you're nuts!"
She only looked like this for the first part of the ride! I yelled to Shawn, "squeeze her" when she started getting anxious and I got a few funny looks. Our OT suggested using "proprioceptive input" (pressure on the muscles, joints, and touch receptors) when Zoya is having anxiety from sensory issues. Some things we do for proprioceptive input are bear hugs and gentle squeezes. Proprioceptive input is thought to be good for kids with sensory processing issues because it overwhelms sensory input from physical and mental sensory stresses on the nervous system. It is also thought that proprioceptive input can help to release serotonin from the brain which helps to relax the body. This works amazingly well with Zoya!
Oh and I forgot to mention that when the frog hopper ride was done I was so excited that Zoya did it that I was jumping up and down clapping and cheering and so then Zoya started smiling and clapping too. At the end of my excitement I noticed everyone was staring, a few people with smiles. I'm still wondering if they were thinking, "lady you're on drugs" and telling their own children "this is why you don't do drugs" or if they were thinking "awww look how proud that momma is." I'm hoping for the second, but not holding my breath after doing an instant replay in my head! Like I said, the things you do for your kids! And I'd do it again! No shame!The good news is that the brains of most children from institutional settings are plastic enough throughout childhood to be healed and made whole, even when considerable damage has taken place. It takes work. Most of the time it takes some therapy and early intervention. It always takes time, patience, gentleness, kindness, and understanding. First, we must learn to recognize a sensory disordered and frightened child when we see one. New parents need to learn how to calm that frightened child, and that child must learn to accept a state of being calm within his or her new surroundings. Once a state of fairly normal equilibrium is reached, stress hormones sufficiently reduced, and the fight or flight response moderated to low levels, young brains will begin to perceive the world differently - less threatening and more bearable. With time, the appropriate stimulation and retraining, these children can begin to process sensory input in normal or near normal ways, and the potential for a happy and complete life for that child is possible."
This is exactly what we are starting to see with Zoya. All of this stuff is so interesting to me. Zoya's sensory issues make a lot more sense to me when I remember how under stimulated she was for so long and how her brain did not make the connections that most babies brains make as a result of being stimulated....however, it is NOT too late and her brain is beginning to make those connections now and sensory activities are becoming less scary and even enjoyable for her now. I'm sure this is something Zoya will always struggle with a little but it is so awesome to see how far she has come!
I have so much more to blog about...we've been so very busy...Shawn and I celebrated our 5th anniversary on Friday and we spent Saturday camping with family. We are busy busy getting ready for me to go back to work, therapy appointments, and getting a letter and pictures together to send to Zoya's orphanage (with a family who is adopting a little one from Zoya's groupa!!). More to come on those activities!!!