Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Programs

Having started preschool and being a regular attender at our church's children's program, JoNo was eligible to participate in two different Christmas programs this year. He absolutely LOVES to sing, and is actually pretty good at it (he can keep the beat and tune quite well and remembers the words to songs and stories remarkably fast and effectively). With his tendency to get overstimulated easily, we weren't sure how things would go but we wanted to let him try.

The church program was a huge event -- our church holds four different services each weekend, with regular attendance over 4000 every weekend. The Christmas program was a huge event as well -- very large stage, with risers and lighting and monitor speakers and dozens of kids. It was the program we were most concerned about as far as sensory overload.

The preschool program was a relatively small affair, involving only the children in the preschool classes at his school (about 15 total). The program took place in his preschool classroom, which meant he was used to the room but it was packed with FAR more people than it really should contain (parents all sitting in preschool chairs four deep along one wall with just enough room in front for the kids to file in and stand on boxes. Of the two, this was the one we thought he'd breeze through.

JoNo is always surprising us! He did AWESOME at the church program and loved every minute of it. Oh sure, he got distracted with hugging the girl next to him and showing off his socks to everyone and even poking at the girls face to play with her. But he loved every minute of it -- not a hint of overload, seemed completely comfortable, sang his little heart out. And he still asks when he gets to sing on the big stage again!

The preschool program was another story altogether. Whether it was the break in routine, the crowded feel of the room, or just that he was having an off day (the gym owner did ruffle his hair when he first arrived, forgetting how much JoNo hates having his head touched) -- he was NOT enjoying this program. In fact, at one point he sat down on his box while the other kids were singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and winced at every loud "wish" the children belted out. We treated him to a cookie and some juice when it was all over with.

You win some and you lose some, I guess. It's just funny how so unpredictable these things can be. We all have up days and down days, some that are easier or harder than others to cope with, and I suppose the same must be true for him and his SPD. On the one hand, it really gets to me that I feel like I don't know my child well enough to know what will set him off and what he'll enjoy. On the other hand, it reminds me to let him take the lead and to keep encouraging him to try new things because you just never know what he'll enjoy and really succeed at. And I'm definitely glad we gave hin the opportunity rather than sheltering him from it in case it overwhelmed him. We'll definitely do the church program again next year, and we'll support his efforts at the preschool program again next year as well. Who knows, next year the results could be completely opposite.

Hindsight is always 20/20

As we were sorting through some older home movies of Josiah the other day, we came across one that set me back a bit. When he was about a year and a half old, we used to play this spinning game with him, where I would sing about spinning and he would "spin" around. I say "spin" because he would only turn about 1/2 turn, then pause (off balance a bit) and try to turn in the other direction, only to repeat the process several times. Once in a while he'd make a complete turn.

He was always smiling and enjoying himself during this game, and at the time we thought it was so cute and quirky. Okay, it's still cute and quirky, but watching that video the other day, instead of just seeing my cute quirky toddler, I saw a kid with obvious SPD trouble in his vestibular system. As he'd stop spinning, his posture and eyes told the story -- his brain thought he was still spinning and balancing was far more difficult than we ever imagined.

Grandpa Z got him a sit-and-spin for his birthday, and while he loves to make it play music and light up, and even use it as a step-stool, he isn't so keen on actually spinning on it. He'll do a turn or two at my insistence, or as part of his indoor obstacle course, but always reluctantly and only with the promise of something else he likes when he's finished :)

He's doing GREAT on the Razor Jr. skooter we got him, though. He mostly rides it indoors (we have wood laminate floor everywhere except the bedrooms) and is doing pretty well, pushing with one foot and actually picking up that foot while it glides a foot or two down the hall.

A few more sensory-themed toys are in the works for Christmas -- stay tuned for updates on how those go over :)