Swimming

  • Sensory Processing Disorder – Part Four

    Updated April 2021

    “I love taking risks, jumping from high up and crashing into things”

    Illustration to show Sensory seeker vs Sensory Sensitive

    When Bear was about 2 years old, I would flinch when I would see him charging towards me as I knew this meant a head butt to the crotch! I learnt quickly to turn my hips and bump him back with my hip and send him flying! Hilarious! We both thought so anyway. Onlookers might have had a different opinion.

    Crash, Bang, Wallop

    But that was a major stage for him. Crashing into things. Usually me, but anything was game. Thankfully he isn’t like that now but he still loves jumping from high up and taking risks.

    It’s a steep learning curve but I had to learn to let him go for it so he could challenge his own senses and abilities to see what he was capable of.

    One of our local parks has a high climbing wall. He scaled that by the age of 3. Not so much fun trying to get him to come back down though. So I had to make sure he could take risks in a controlled and safe way.

    How to keep a sensory-seeking Bear safe?

    • When he was very young, I could only go to parks that were enclosed otherwise he would run away at the first chance he got
    • We chose parks that have climbing walls designed to be scaled.
    • He loves parks with spiderweb style rope structures. That means if he falls it won’t be a drop straight to the ground.
    • We have become less precious about him climbing all over the couch and dive bombing from the table to the couch (while teaching him he can’t do that at other people’s houses).
    Crash landing after school

    Despite requesting a specifically design crash mat from NDIS, they continue to state that it would encourage unsafe behaviours. I have the complete opposite opinion. He will follow his impulses anyway, but the crash mat teaches him how to chose safe parameters in which to follow those impulses. Same as teaching him that he has to stop and look both ways before running across the road to the park.

    I don’t want to completely stop these behaviours. If it wasn’t for risk takers, we wouldn’t have extreme sportspeople like Big Wave Surfer, Laird Hamilton or Freediving Champion, Hanli Prinsloo. They approach their sport with intense knowledge of their surroundings, supreme fitness and knowing their own limits. This is what I want to teach Bear. Not that his actions are bad, but that he needs to be smart about them.

    At the moment his favourite thing to do is jump off the jetty at our local boat ramp at the very end, usually off the top of a bollard. He built up to it though.

    At first it was just jumping off the small walls into shallow water.

    Then it was jumping off the middle of the jetty near the ladder and jumping in close to the ladder so it was easy to grab.

    Now he just throws himself off willy-nilly into the water and confidently swims back to shore or the ladder.

    He is constantly learning about his own physical boundaries as well as how to be independent and strong. As a Seeker, he is constantly searching for input but so far he hasn’t wondered if he can fly off a cliff.

    Let’s hope he doesn’t try.


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