Sunday, August 29, 2010


I sit with Elsa at our dining table.  Her face is covered with splotchy red marks, but she is happily drinking a chocolate banana milk shake.
"Talk like this: Blender- I cried." Elsa demands.
"You wanna talk about the blender?" I ask.
"Um, ya!" she replies.  "And the blender, and I cried, and Charlotte and Ramona and Elsa in my room?"
"Yep, that's what happened. Were you scared of the blender?"
"I cried."
"I know, I'm sorry.  I thought you'd like the milk shake."
"Milk shake tastes like smoothie!" She says delightedly.

I had already planned on writing my next post about Elsa, specifically about her "auditory defensiveness" as they put it in sensory processing disorder lingo.  The blender incident happened not even fifteen minutes ago, which prompted me to write this post, already.  When I pulled the blender out, she was hysterical before I even plugged it in.  I tried holding her while I put the ingredients in the blender, but realized that wasn't going to work as she screamed in complete terror to be so near the infernal contraption.  I put her in her room with Charlotte and Ramona, got her calmed down enough, closed the door and went back to my milk shake making.  But she was still devastated by it, even through a closed door and several rooms worth of space.  She came out shaking, begging me to "put it away, mama!" And I did.  And she was very happy with her milkshake and wanted to chat about it.

Earlier this week, we went to our first library story time, which was really quite nice.  The woman who runs it, Miss Mary, is lovely, and they have two pet doves in the room. They had some stories, and some songs, and a film strip and a craft.  Unfortunately, the theme for the day was "Birthdays." Which, of course, meant they sang the Happy Birthday song.  Softly, sweetly, quietly sang the Happy Birthday song.  It still sent her into panicked tears.  And every song they sang after that, she cried. Then she cheerfully went on to make a party hat out of paper and glue.

I have just recently started to piece together these separate incidents and wonder if they are part of some larger problem.  She hates the hand dryers in public bathrooms, and by association, she hates public bathrooms even if there is no loud hand dryer. She also hates my blow dryer, and would panic even if I was just using the straightening iron (which is quiet, of course) because she associates it with the blow dryer. Obviously, she hates when a group of people all of the sudden start singing, and she frequently asks me to turn off the music while we are driving in the car. I don't know if these things actually add up to any sort of processing disorder, but I'm definitely bringing it up the the pediatrician, once we get one.

It's not all doom and gloom around here, though.  She usually recovers from these episodes very quickly (as quickly as you can shove a chocolate banana milkshake in your mouth!) And she has a sunny, happy, if extremely willful, disposition most of the time.  We are enjoying our time together now that the twins are back in school.  We go to the library and the park, or just hang out at home playing endless games "What you like?" where I have to ask her for food items that she will pretend to get for me and I pretend to eat.  Or, "Imma doggie, what I like?" where I have to think of things she as a doggie, would like, and give them to her. (Note that doggies eat and drink laying down on their bellies.)  But I think I'd better get us a pediatrician pretty darned soon.  Who knows, maybe we can add "playing with the fun occupational therapist!" as one of our weekly games.


  1. I had a close friend that had a son, and he had something similar. His began with the door bell. The door bell would make the dog bark, so it became any dog barking. Then the mailman, because the dog used to bark at him, and thus, any delivery person. He got to the point where he was afraid of the door, or anything moderately associated with doors(which, you might imagine, since everything comes through the door) This type of "Super Anxiety" and fear of things closely related to, or somewhat like it, was not that uncommon, according to his therapist. He went to therapy, I would think about 3 or so years, twice a week, and you know what cured him? Making friends and wanting to go outside to play with them. Just as fast as it came on, it went away.

  2. I was scared of loud noises as a kid, too, but with perhaps a higher threshhold than Elsa has. I wouldn't flush toilets because of the noise.

    I also hated showers. I still kind of do, and am still very easily startled by loud or sudden sounds, and I think it has something to do with my bouquet of anxiety issues, rather than an audio processing problem in particular.

    In any case, I think it's a problem that a lot of kids have to varying degrees, and adapt to well as they grow and become accustomed to the wild world. I'm interested to hear a followup on what helpful strategies a doc might have!

  3. I too used to be afraid of flushing the toilet. I am, to this day, very sensitive to loud sounds and smells, get motion-sickness very easily... just an inner ear mess! Good luck with Elsa.

  4. Thanks, guys. Yeah, I don't think it's any sort of life-altering fear or anything, most of the time she's fine. But if she has some processing problem, she may qualify for therapy through early intervention. And as I learned with Charlotte and Ramona, who had about 9 months of speech therapy, it can't hurt and it might help, and, if nothing else, it's a nice lady who comes to your house once a week with fun toys. We'll see. I'm definitely putting the cart before the horse, as is my way.

  5. What makes you think it's a processing problem rather than simply a fear? I would certainly discuss it with your pediatrician once you get one, but I don't think it will turn out to be processing since she's talking and able to understand what you're saying. Like you say, it can't hurt to get some help with it though.

  6. Not "processing" in a literal, "I can't process what you are saying" sort of way, that's just what they call sensory problems, you know? It's more in the sense that she has trouble dealing with sensory input, mostly auditory, but sometimes tactile too. She had been sensitive about food, too, remember that she never would eat baby food, and had the weird gag-reflex, projectile vomitting when she was a baby? And still will reject food just because she doesn't like the feel of it in her mouth.