Snow Tickles

As adults, we have all probably experienced snow falling at one time or another in our lives.  But I never gave much thought to all of the sensations that go along with experiencing snow for the first time.  That all changed today when Andy and I stood waiting for the bus.  Have you ever really thought about the sensations you experience on a daily basis?  How many of us really give any conscious thought to the sensations our bodies experience when we stand in the snow or the rain?  If I have learned one thing from having a child with Sensory Integration Dysfunction, it is that every sensation is magnified.  When a nervous system is functioning properly, the brain throws out any information that is not necessary.  All of the snow flakes falling on the face don’t normally take center stage in the brain.  Usually, this information would just be filed under the “so what” category of your brain.  However, when a person’s nervous system has not developed normally, every sensation is experienced at the same level of awareness.  This is often what causes the sensory overload which leads to the unusual and misunderstood tantrums and meltdowns.  That is what happened to Andy this morning as we stood in the lightly falling snow.  As we walked out the door to meet the bus, it began to snow.  I was excited and smiling.  Andy was looking everywhere and had trouble focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.  As we stood on the sidewalk waiting for the bus, the snowfall began to increase.  More snowflakes began sticking to our coats.  Then, all hell broke loose as the snowflakes began to land on the exposed skin of Andy’s face.  I knelt down and tried to comfort with him and reason with him “it’s only snow.  It’s falling very gently.  It can’t hurt you.”  Then I began to tune into my own senses in an effort to understand what he was experiencing.  It dawned on me that the snowflakes were tickling my nose and eyelashes.  It felt very much like someone was lightly tickling my face with a feather.  The tickles were so light that if I really focused on them, my face began to itch.  It reminded me of having an allergic reaction to animal hair.  My whole face was itching and I just wanted to scratch off my skin to make it stop.  Is that what it is like for children like this?  I can never really put myself in his body and know what he feels.  I can only imagine what it feels like.  At least this reaction was not as bad as some others.  Eventually the bus came and he was enclosed in the warmth inside so he could marvel at the snow falling with only his eyes.  As the bus left, Andy’s mouth was once again open in awe, saying “it’s snowing, it’s cool!”

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