We all face adversity. It is apart of life that we can not avoid. For some there are small hurdles to jump over while for others there can be mountains that need to be climbed. Either way we are born with the instinct to survive. Along the way, depending on the hurdles and mountians we face, we developing coping strategies to help us along the way. These strategies will determine our success based on whether or not they are healthy or unhealthy coping stratagies.
By the time Nora was diagnosed with SPD she had already developed coping strategies that helped her survive a world that overwhelmed her. One that stands out the most was her ability to make a tent anywhere out of any size blanket. In the back of the van, over her stroller, behind a couch or beside our bed. Once even I found her curled up in a laundry basket covered with a towel and when I asked what she was doing she said “being in my tent”. Well past the age of 5 she would always ask to be in her stroller. While most preschoolers shun the stroller in their need to show independence, Nora would beg us to bring it wherever we went. When things got overwhelming she would flip-up the canopy. Drag out her favorite blanket and clip it on the top and bottom to form a tent. As we would push her along you would hear her humming away, happy to block out the world for a little while. We didn’t teach her to do this. In fact I would often try to discourage it in hopes having her engage in an activity. I mean what 4-year-old wants to sit in a stroller at a zoo. However, I learned quickly to pick my battles and at least I knew exactly where she was.
As Nora grew and the demands for her to be more present grew, like being at school, she developed unhealthy coping strategies. During the first grade she would come home almost everyday and have a melt down which left us both emotionally and physically exhausted. It was during first grade that she was diagnosed with SPD and we learned a lot about her sensory needs and how to support her. As the year went on we helped her learn how to cope after school by having a healthy snack and some quiet time at her grandmother’s who lived next door. As a family of five things could be pretty loud and busy at our house from after school to bedtime. During the school day Nora was quiet and well-behaved as she was able to self regulate but needed to find an outlet after school to let go and regain her balance.
Finding balance is something we all need to do in this world regardless of how our senses work. For children who struggle with sensory input this balance is even more important. They are already working extra hard to interrupt the sensory input and output in the world around them. If they don’t find a balance that works for them it can lead to unhealthy copy strategies, anxiety, depression, and a decline in their overall health. There are so many different websites, books, and even the magical world of Pinterest where you can find help for developing coping strategies. The process of finding a balance that works is based on trial and error. We have tried many things before we found a balance that worked for Nora when she was younger. As she aged Nora became more and more able to find what worked for her. Today she uses a privacy pop up tent and a sound machine to sleep. She diffuses essential oils…..in particular lavender in her bed room. She knows she needs regular exercise and tries to eat a health diet. I say tries because she could live off gold-fish crackers and lemons. Yes, it is a sensory thing. One very special tool that she just started using is her Coping Box!
The Coping Box Co. is a family operated business based in Cape Cod. They will literally put together a coping box for you. They are put together by the family and all items are tested by the members of the family. The items come in a beautiful box that is personalized. This excerpt is taken from their website:
“Perfect for Ages 5 to 105
The coping box is filled with fun fidget toys and creative distractions to help cope with life’s daily stressors. It is wonderfully suited for adolescents coping with anxiety/depression, therapists, school counselors, kids learning to manage symptoms of ADD, bereavement, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a student care package, a patient pick-me-up or any occasion where someone can use a smile. “
I can not say enough good things about this product. As a parent who has been on this road for many years I have purchased so many products to try with Nora. This literally takes all that trial and error away and leaves you with the best of everything we have tried over the years. Nora loves the personalized box as it gives her ownership over SPD. She knows when she has a rough day she can come home, go to her room, open this box and pick out a tool that will help restore balance to her life. She doesn’t have to go looking for anything because it is all right there.
The art of coping is not easy but it is a vital part of any healthy lifestyle. When we learn to face and deal with our responsibilities in a health way we achieve a balance in our lives. For children with SPD finding balance is so important. They already live in a world that often overwhelms them with all its moving parts. They work twice as hard to stay focused and be present than their peers. So as the adults in their lives we need to work twice as hard to help them find healthy ways to cope. I will attach the link to The Coping Box Co. below and I hope you check them out. If we had of had this resource 8 years ago it would have saved us a lot of time, money, and tears. 🙂