The children are out of sorts. I am off my game, unable to move us beyond the necessities of food, school, keeping them in health. My middle child has an anxiety disorder and a neurological condition. His condition is invisible to the casual observer. He is verbal, tall for his age and without physical impediment. Its effects are far from invisible to our family.
The behavior that results from his conditions are not invisible to people at the store, at the Y, and in restaurants. His low muscle tone makes him wiggle. It is his way of keeping up right. Without the wiggling, he might fall. Sometimes he falls. This is loud. He worries loudly. He cannot screen out background noise very successfully. He talks loudly to speak over all the noises in the world the rest of us are not hearing, like the kitchen vent, the traffic on the street, the noise of the dryer, people talking in the hallway, the hum,hum, humming of fluorescent lighting. He has a limited sense of proprioception – that means he doesn’t quite know, in a body sense, where his body is in space. Do you know that feeling of missing the bottom step? Or the chair isn’t quite where you thought it was? This is my child’s world all the time. What he does to compensate is crash himself into furniture, walls and people. It simply looks crazy to anyone not trained to spot it. It looks like he won’t stand on his own two feet. It looks like he is crashing into shelves at the grocery store knocking stuff down at age 6 1/2 and old enough to know better.
And how do I look?
He worries. This ” interferes with daily life,” as the professionals say. He worries so much about being late that he makes us late. The worry is not invisible. The meltdown is not invisible when his worst fears are realized. He looks – and is – having a tantrum. A tall kid melting down with curls bouncing everywhere.
You know that look you get when boarding an airplane with children?
He is plenty bright, but his brain runs in certain patterns. It does not flex easily. He sees a movie in his mind of how things will play out. When a surprise hits him – big or small – every thing in him revolts. He wants to bend circumstances and beat them into the form of the movie he had playing in his head. It takes him a while to get off script. The scripts are a tool he uses to keep the chaos at bay. When they fail him, everything in him revolts. He has, by temperament, a will of iron. The revolt is loud.
And it is always louder in winter. The light is too bright on the snow. His skin is too dry, a constant irritation of which he remains constantly aware, like that kitchen fan I can’t hear like he can. Perhaps he also has SAD. He needs to run around in the sun, dig in the dirt, do laps around the house. I need to be able to take him places without us both crying. Spring is coming, but not soon enough.