Living with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) can be a very interesting way to go through life. One thing that people may not know about SPD is that some children, and perhaps adults, living with it need to do certain types of activities in order to feel happy/at ease/relaxed.
One type of activity, that both of my kids who are living with SPD thrive on, is called heavy work. Basically a person does activities that use mostly large muscles to move or manipulate items that are heavy. I can carry or push a laundry basket with ease, but to a child this may be a perfect heavy work activity. Heavy work activities help some children to feel centered, help them to control their bodies especially if their joints are “loose”, and always helps to exhaust some energy.
My youngest child, E, loves heavy work activities. His favorite is opening and closing doors. He does this at home, at the mall, and nearly anywhere else. I do not allow him to help with the car doors yet because I do worry about pinched fingers due to the heavy doors which are automatic and fairly heavy. He could easily love a finger that way, unfortunately, because he is not always in control of his body parts.
Last week E went with me each day to take my oldest, M, to her classes. E would go to the mall door, pull very hard until he got it open, and let us into the building. He LOVES this activity so even though I worried about his fingers and even though it looked like he might not get the doors open a few times, I stood back and watched as he struggled.
As he worked to open the door, many people thought he was cute or precious. “Why thank you, he sure is”, I would say. People often tried to help out. They wanted to help that cute little kid who was trying so hard to be big. The kind strangers did not understand that people being near him is a trigger. They did not understand that E needed to have that heavy work activity to help him successfully proceed through his day.
A few people grabbed the door and walked in front of him OR grabbed the door while trying to get him to chat with them. Neither behavior went over well with E. A few times he ran and screamed so I had to pick him up for his own safety. A few times he just stood like a statue and ignored those trying to help. Once he cried.
Here is the bottom line. Don’t help anyone with the door unless you have asked first. I appreciate your thoughts and ideas. I appreciate your kindness. However, your help may not actually help. My child wants to feel the weight of the door in his hands. He wants to feel accomplished. He learns resilience from trying a few times to do this activity. He will ask for help if he needs it. Trust me, because I know my child. Thank you for your kindness, but don’t help my son with the door.