after sara gave me the word "hypersensitivity", i began to google. (i love that "google" has become a verb, by the way.) it took a few days to find any useful information because i wasn't sure exactly what i was looking for and, therefore, wasn't typing in good search criteria. hypersensitive + disney movies = 0 search results.
as i was clicking on different links, though, i began to notice a trend - the words "sensory" and "sensory input" kept popping up. eventually i found a sensory checklist and began tallying...
1) becomes fearful or anxious with light or unexpected touch
2) complains about having hair brushed
3) is a picky eater
4) gets motion sickness
5) loves pushing/pulling/dragging objects
6) chews on pens, straws, shirt sleeves etc.
7) fearful of the sound of a flushing toilet (especially in public
8) constantly putting objects in mouth past the toddler years
9) sensitive to bright lights
10) prefers playing by self with objects or toys rather than with people
as you read through that list of ten items what do you think? not too much out of the ordinary, really. i'm sure many children complain about having their hair brushed at one time or another. i know lots of other kids (including graham) who cover their ears when a public toilet is flushed (those things are loud, man!). i imagine every boy on the planet loves to push, pull and drag heavy objects. i, myself, am sensitive to bright light and rarely go out under the colorado sun without protection on my eyes.
i added up my tally marks and counted. ten out of 100 or so isn't so bad, right? was my thought at the time. the checklist didn't make me worry or cause immediate panic (which i'm known to do with very little provocation), it just gave me insight and armed me with descriptive words so i could ask more questions.
my next step was to email harrison's preschool teacher. many of you know about harrison's (and, now, graham's) awesome preschool, but i'll just highlight the details. fletcher miller is a public k-12 school for kids with special needs. they offer a 3 & 4 year old preschool program that integrates typical kids with special needs kids. it's pretty amazing. the typical kids are called peer models and they are there for that exact reason - to be a model for their peers. one of harrison's friends from preschool was zak, a sweet blonde-haired boy with cerebral palsy who mostly communicates with an ipad. harrison frequently talked about how he wanted to "wear glasses because zak does" and "have a wheel chair like zak does". i love that my boys have some friends who are more like them, some who are less like them, but they are all still friends! in fact, i've noticed graham discriminates between the boys and the girls ("mommy, i don't like girls because they like pink and purple and princesses") but i've never heard him distinguish the typical and the special.
all that to say, the unique nature of our preschool provided for interaction with lots of different therapists. speech, occupational and physical therapists, as well as special needs teachers, saw harrison each and every day yet no one noticed anything about him that warranted a conversation with me.
so i emailed "teacher mary" (this was back in july). i mentioned the lion king experience and the checklist and asked for her advice. her response was very helpful as she encouraged me to trust my mommy instinct. but then she wrote this:
"it will be difficult to find an evaluator who knows
enough about sensory issues as harrison has been around therapists who know
LOTS about sensory issues and who noticed he has some quirks but
didn't think it was anything that would require intervention. so make
sure that you find a good evaluator."
she confirmed exactly what i was already thinking - i should go ahead and seek out evaluation but how in the world will i ever find someone who can determine harrison's issues if all these other therapists weren't able to?
that was the next step.