We went to the annual Berkeley Kite festival a couple of weeks ago. Isis (3.5 yrs.) loves kites (in addition to finding them romantic I think she loves the proprioceptive input – the feel of the kite tugging on her arm and the wind blowing her body). I was worried about the crowds but I knew she’d handle it for the sake of kites and bouncy houses. It was an added bonus our “shuttle” from the parking lot was a bonefied full size yellow school bus! If there is anything cooler than a kite, it’s a school bus, and this was her and her younger sister Kali’s very first school bus ride. “Oh, is it going to take us to school, mama!?” She asked me in wonder. “Nope,” said daddy “it’s going to take us to the Kite Festival!” “Oh great! ” She burst out.
After our bus adventure, our next mission as decreed by our daughter was to fly her kite. Since we totally failed as parents and didn’t bring her kite, we had to avail ourselves of one of the free paper kites she got to color on before attempting to fly. Then it was on to the next thing, and she again was walking in the crowds in the opposite direction of her family. “Isis, this way!” my husband shouts after her. But I know she doesn’t hear him even though she’s still less than 6 feet away… My consciousness slips into hers and for a brief second my vision tunnels and I hear what she hears… Everything – all at once – at full volume – with no filters – The beat of the pop music blaring for the kite competition: “boom chuk, boom chuk, boom chuk” , all the conversations happening above her head in the truly diverse fashion of the east Bay “hoa bu hao” “va manos” “taiko”, the wind “whoooooosh” the vibrating kites “wawawawa” and then I flash back to my own body. I give my husband the “it’s sensory” look (ya you develop one of those as a parent with a kid with SI challenges) and say “She can’t hear you.” He knows just what to do, he launches after her, sweeps her up in his arm, and physical reorients her in the direction we were headed. Now physically and visually on track – our family happily carries on.
Sensory Snippet – Put yourself in your child’s shoe’s and experience the world through your raw senses. If you’re in a place with a lot of different sounds / noises or a particular type of sound you know they’re sensitive to and they’re not listening it’s not because they’re being obstinate. Literally, “She can’t hear you”.
Sensory Solution: Get their attention and communicate in a non-auditory way. Gently pull them out of their sensory state by physically lifting, pointing, turning, etc as needed. Or find a less stimulating place to talk.