Simon’s smile is incredible as he stares, mooney-eyed, at his new toy cat. It’s called Soft Kitty and he loves that. When the evaluators asked him to explain how the ladybug in a picture feels (looking for an emotion) he gladly, sweetly, says that it feels soft. How is your blanket? we ask him. Soft, he replies, his voice quiet and gentle. “Ahhhhhhh,” he says, “ohhhhhh,” as he snuggles his kitty, burrows into his eight blankets, or puts on new sweatpants. He wants to read books by the cozy fire, read books by his cozy bed, and have a cozy family snuggle. This boy loves soft things with a gentle passion.
Simon likes everything to be happy. He plugs his ears when a character in a story is distressed. The faces he draws with his wobbly grip are all happy faces, regardless of the expression they seem to take. When a person is hurt or a child cries, he finds us and frets until all is well again.
I never thought I’d see a kid be thankful about getting a new pack of diapers, but one evening when I brought some home, he said, “oh thank you mommy,” and he meant it deeply. He is grateful when we fill his water cup, when we play with him, and when someone sends him a card. He asked me recently if I would play in his room with him, and when I answered that I would after finishing my food, he said, “oh thank you mommy, you’re the best mommy in the all the world.” I would have played with Simon until midnight after that. He tells me he loves me and this morning even said he always loves me. He enjoys getting us things and is proud to tell me when I get home from work that they made dinner for me.
Personality doesn’t stem only from sensory issues, of course, but I do know that sensitivity transfers to emotional sensitivity, at least in my son and I. When not in the midst of anxiety or a meltdown, he is tender, caring, and loving. I would never wish SPD on my son, but I would never want to lose his sweetness and the depth of good feeling he gets from positive sensory input. Life without SPD might be a lot easier, but life with SPD can be very rich, meaningful, and sweet.