As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I would love to just have a few minutes in Courtney’s head. I think the first thing I would want to understand is her sensory system. Why do things like running water turn on her fight or flight system as if she just ran into a bear?
Our bath time routine goes like this…Alyssa and I go up to the bath. Alyssa will get in as the tub is filling up. Courtney doesn’t join us until the tub is filled. Why? Courtney can’t handle the sound of running water. Especially in the tub. She actually has goals with some of her therapy to tolerate running water while playing in the sink. Sounds kinda silly, right? Not when washing hands is probably one of the most important life skills!
When it comes to working with sensory issues, you work on desensitizing the person to the stimulus that is sending their sensory system to high alert. So for Courtney, doing something she enjoys doing (playing in water) while exposing her to the stimulus (running water) that sets off her sensory system helps desensitize her.
So back to bath time. Tonight was a tough one. Both girls were in the tub. They were both happy as I lathered them up with soap. Alyssa then loves to layer up anything that is in the tub. During tonight’s bath time, it was the faucet. Courtney saw Alyssa playing with the faucet and it immediately sent Courtney to fight or flight mode. I actually have been practically face to face with a bear and I didn’t react as scared as she was of the possibility of the faucet being turned on.
We some how survived the bath time. I was soaked by Courtney’s wet body trying to cling on to me as she continued to melt down. I also had Alyssa crying as she couldn’t understand why I asked her to stop putting soap on the faucet. (Mind you, she was never going to turn it on. She knows that will scare her sister.) Alyssa went to spend quiet time with Joe on the couch while Courtney and I emotionally recovered from the ordeal. I watched her with tears rolling down my eyes as her body slowly eased and her happy self return.
I have a few different people I will send a venting text to after moments like this. Tonight’s was to my friend from work. Her response was perfect…”That has to be so hard! Little things we take for granted and can block out, can be so debilitating to her.” So true. You know what, running water in a tub is loud and annoying. But I can block it out and not let it bother me. To someone like Courtney, that sound is only louder and on top of it, they don’t have the ability to just block it out.
Courtney and I recovered. We were smiling and giggling together until she finally fell asleep.