It’s time once and for all to talk about the advantages of having sensory processing disorder. Of course no two people are alike, so I’ll just talk about MeMe and keep in mind that many SPD children are different.
Firstly, because MeMe has such a black-and-white view of the world (like many kids so but I bet he’ll retain it far longer than his peers) and he thinks in extremes, it’s very easy for him to learn right from wrong, and for these values to be ingrained within him. Most of the “rights” and “wrongs” he knows instinctively, like I never had to explain to him why it’s wrong to hurt or steal from someone. It’s obvious as daylight to him. I’ll admit that some values he took longer to pick up, because of his difficulty with logical thinking (cause and effect, etc.), but once he got it, he will never forget it, it just became a part of him.
Honesty is very important to him. He instinctively understood as a toddler that being truthful is the way to go. He did have very rigid thinking, and I suspect that that is the reason why he would have never even dreamed of saying something untruthful to us. Now, a few years later, as I’ve been working with him on thinking outside the box, he has tried some easy lies, but his face shows that he is clearly uncomfortable that way.
MeMe is also oversensitive to his surroundings. This enables him to learn from the people around him, specifically his classmates at this stage of his life. When he isn’t sure of his teacher’s instructions, he watches the other boys to see what they’ll do, and then he understands what he’s supposed to do. It’s kind of like a way he’s figured out to be self-sufficient without asking the teacher a hundred questions. It’s also because he’s very visual and will understand something ten times faster if he’s shown what to do rather than verbally explained to.
(Last year his class went pony riding and his teacher chose MeMe to be the first to be places on the horse. MeMe freaked out as he wanted to watch other boys do it first in order to copy them when it would be his turn. The teacher didn’t know what MeMe was so upset about, as this was the only sign of his sensory issues he ever showed in school.)
There is another advantage to being oversensitive to one’s surroundings. Once MeMe learned to read facial expressions and to consider another’s feelings, he is extra careful not to disturb somebody or hurt them in any way. He is so sensitive that he can feel within himself someone else’s pain and doesn’t need to be reminded to play nicely with his friends. (We are still working on what he should do when he accidentally bumps into someone, he’s made good progress though.)
Because MeMe has a strong memory, he memorizes what he learns in school the first time his teacher says it. He gets straight A’s without having to study at all. (He doesn’t always comprehend the details, but we’ve been working with him and he’s much better than he used to be.)
So there it is- a straight-A student with good values and good friends. What more can a parent ask for? Yeah, he drove us all bananas for a long time, and still does, but in the long run hopefully the hard times will be forgotten and the good parts will remain with us.
What are the strengths of your SPD child? What advantages does your SPD child have over his/her non-SPD friends or siblings? I’m interested in hearing all kinds of SPD experiences!