My five year old son went through a lot as an infant. He has a very rare heart defect, which the local cardiologists had only seen in a textbook. As you can imagine, they developed quite a fascination with my kid. He was constantly poked and prodded, and may as well have had an echocardiogram wand permanently affixed to his chest. At the same time, he had severe reflux, a kidney problem, and several other conditions which had him in and out of the hospital quite frequently.
During his tumultuous infancy, we noticed he had an aversion to being held or touched. It was (correctly) assumed by us, that he didn’t like the feel of human hands because they mostly caused him pain and trauma. After most of his health issues were either stable or under medicinal-control, roundabout his first birthday, we realized it was time to do something about his sensory problems. At that time, he began 18 months of occupational therapy to get him where he needed to be. He had frequent appointments with a specialist to help him realize that touch can be soothing and comforting.
Only nothing is that simple with this boy of mine. He took to the therapy so well, that he went to the other end of the spectrum, and now he won’t keep his hands off people. Mostly, he likes women’s arms….and the older the skin, the better. It is not unusual to find him sticking his hand up the sleeve of any AARP-card-carrying, female he can find.
My Mother and my husband’s Mother have both referred to this portion of their body as their “flab”, which has caused me much grief. On more than one occasion, my son has rubbed someone’s arm and uttered, “This is your flab”, as I quickly looked for a rock to crawl under.
So, now we are trying to reach some kind of middle-ground. We are attempting to bring balance into the life of a kid who has dealt with a lot of extremes. We don’t want him to stop touching the flab, we just don’t want him to call it that.