Today might be the first day of the season we try to bring Ryan to the beach. I am fearful, but based on his recent progress, I am hopeful.
Last summer, before I had even heard of Sensory Integration Dysfunction, I didn't understand why Ryan insisted on wearing sneakers and socks at the beach, or why he cried when I tried putting him barefoot in the ocean. I thought he was just being difficult, or that he really liked wearing socks.
Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) is a neurological disorder that complicates interpreting data collected by the five senses, the sense of movement, and the sense of where you are in space. SID often goes along with autism spectrum disorders, but it can also be a completely independent diagnosis.
There are certain textures and sensations to which Ryan is hypersensitive - touching sand, especially with his feet, causes him great pain and stress; he used to cry whenever he felt wind on his skin - and others which he barely notices. One thing standing between Ryan and freedom from diapers is that he doesn't notice that he's wet; and yet, if he gets a tiny drop of water on his sleeve, he starts searching for a towel, or a dry shirt. A loud vacuum cleaner might make him hold his ears, yet he craves going to the overwhelmingly loud indoor playground with the ball pit. He begs to be swung around and turned upside down, but will shriek if someone lightly touches the top of his head. At the moment, he is sitting on my lap fretting about invisible crumbs on his fingers.
His teachers and I have been building up his tolerance to touching offensive textures, so now he's able to play in the sandbox or mush Play-Doh without crying. He will wear sandals with minimal argument. Recently I even got him to play in the back yard barefoot.
Now if I could only find a sunblock that doesn't make him cry that he's itchy...