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     Carrie was only 8 or 9 months old when she learned how to pump herself in her wind-up baby swing and then promptly proceeded to break the gears – 3 times.  It wasn't very long after, that daddy added 20 lbs. of weight to the legs of her swing due to worries about it flipping over from the "wheelies" she was popping as she swung away!  These were our first big clues that something was a little different about our precious baby's sensory needs... 

     As the months went on, other not-so-subtle sensory differences started showing up.  It began to take 2 of us to change her diaper and get her dressed.   Around this same time, Carrie started wanting (or should I say needing) to have her shoes and socks on 24-7.  She would often go into full-blown meltdown mode when we tried to take them off to change her socks or air out her peeling feet.  Haircuts took place first thing in the morning (and I'm talking FIRST THING in the morning meaning 12:30 or 1:00 am) when she would finally drift off in her daddy's arms as he rocked and held her tight with hopes of her not waking up.  We didn't often take her places outside our home due to her drastically increasing sensory issues and inability to tolerate bright lights, smells, noises, light touch, and just about anything else that was unfamiliar.  We learned to avoid "disapproving looks" and under-your breath comments about her crazy uneven bangs and (often) dirty-looking hair by keeping bonnets on her most of the time, which she liked.  However, we got those disapproving looks and comments during the horrendous meltdowns she often had when we did take her out.  Anytime we went anywhere as a family of 4, we always drove 2 cars, knowing that one of us would likely have to cut short whatever we were doing and take Carrie home.  We never stopped trying to take her places, and I have to say we were eternally grateful for that second car! 

Blankie     Carrie's once-a-week-only bath was torture for all 3 of us.  It always broke this mommy's heart to see her suffering from the pain of the water dripping on her skin or face (she had a terrible time tolerating water or anything else on her face).  Tipping her head back to rinse her hair was also hard...  We came to understand that being without the calming deep pressure input of her shoes, socks, and clothes was definitely the most difficult part of bathtime for her.  Needless to say, we quickly mastered the fine art of 3 minute baths using only a few inches of tub water – which we always drew before carrying our frantic daughter into the bathroom.  

     Auditory defensiveness became evident around 13 or 14 months of age.  Carrie would scream at the top of her lungs anytime we vacuumed, something we eventually stopped doing if she was in the house.  Wednesday's were always the most difficult day of the week at our house.  We lived close to the airport and for some unknown reason, planes would fly low over our house every Wednesday as they descended for landing.  Carrie would run around the house crying with her hands over her ears (and 2 or 3 favorite blankies in tow or snuggled around her ), trying to find a place to hide every time a plane flew by.... 

Carrie not eating     With the exception of her speech/language skills being a little behind normal, the rest of her developmental milestones seemed to be right on track.  Her sensory hypersensitivities however, seemed to be getting worse.  After Carrie had been eating solid foods for a while, we started to suspect she was also orally defensive (in addition to having auditory and tactile defensiveness).  She would gag on many foods and typically would only pick up food using both pointer fingers – or, she'd just try to lick food up off her high chair tray so she didn't have to pick it up.   It became more and more difficult to get her dressed and keep her dressed; as she often now succeeded in ripping clothes off as quickly as we got them on.  Somewhere along the way, Carrie switched over to wearing her winter boots most of the time!

     As her momentous 18 month milestone neared, this mommy OT found herself holding her breath as we began to notice that Carrie was no longer responding to her name, and was talking less and less.

To be continued...

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