My Child Is Sensory-Sensitive, Not Undisciplined

My Child Is Sensory-Sensitive, Not Undisciplined

My son is a very tenderhearted two-year-old. Like his father, he feels things very deeply, which is why I love them both. He is kind, sensitive, sweet, and a little more reserved. Unlike my oldest daughter, our son preferred to be in the background and take things in. Around the time he turned two, we welcomed baby number 3, and he welcomed a lot of new emotions. 

As time went on, we realized he was not as easy going as we once thought. He was having a hard time with his classmates, he preferred to play off to the side rather than with his friends, he had a hard time transitioning between activities…we did not know what was going on. We are by no means hands-off parents. We instill manners with our children, and enforce the golden rule on the regular. It still seemed, though, that our son was having a genuinely hard time just getting through the day. 

We decided to have him evaluated for speech and occupational therapy. Sure enough, we realized that much of his behavior was likely due to the fact that his receptive and expressive hearing were pretty below average. 

Queue the mom guilt.

How could I have not caught it sooner? Why didn’t I have him evaluated the moment I thought he was behind? The poor teachers in his class.

The list goes on and on.

After a healthy guilt trip and a few cry sessions, my counselor wisely told me some of the best advice: you make the best decision with the information you have at the time.

My Child Is Sensory-Sensitive, Not Undisciplined

With that wisdom, we put our son in speech and OT, and patiently waited for progress.

I know that sounds inspirational and rosy, but the reality it a lot more gritty.

It means that every time one of us or his teachers wants to put a jacket on him, we prepare for war.

It means that for each haircut he gets, we issue a lot of “I’m sorrys” to the ladies next to us. 

It means that at restaurants we order and pay at the same time, because we just aren’t sure how long he’ll make it at the table.

Our grocery shopping days quickly turn into a game of chase so he can get out some energy and better handle the sometimes hour-long errand. 

This season has opened our eyes and has thrown out nearly every assumption I have. What you see a child or parent do is just a snapshot. One moment in time. There is a story, a struggle, maybe even a sense of fear or insecurity hidden behind what you see in front of you.

Be the first to extend grace. Or even better, extend a smile or a helping hand. 

If you’re a mom navigating this season, you are not alone. It’s not glamorous. It’s hard mental and physical work. Celebrate the little milestones, because they turn into big ones very quickly.

Jessica Hauerwas
Jessica is a nonprofit leader who loves bopping around Lafayette for the best burgers or bands in town. She is the Executive Director of Downtown Lafayette Unlimited where she runs the day-to-day nonprofit. She and her husband Chris have three littles at home (Jane, Clark, and Louise) where there is lots of giggling and always a cup of coffee brewing. Jessica is passionate about community-building and empowering working mothers. Jessica also volunteers for various organizations, is a member of the Lafayette Re-Entry Coalition, a graduate of Leadership Lafayette, and a survivor of being a mother of three under 4.