My six year old son has always dealt with sensory issues. He was in occupational therapy for years because of problems eating foods with certain textures and for his mental battle with being touched. As far as touch goes, he’s now on the opposite end of the sensory spectrum and can’t seem to keep his hands off anyone showing bare skin.
But there is another issue that the therapists don’t know how to deal with. He gags. A lot.
Now I’m not talking about gagging when he doesn’t like how mashed potatoes feel in his mouth. We’ve moved past that. I’m talking about gagging when a bike helmet strap rests under his chin, or when he’s wearing a turtleneck, or when he’s in a wedding and is supposed to wear a bow-tie. One time he was a ring bearer and wouldn’t wear the tuxedo tie, jacket OR vest. We couldn’t even button up his shirt. He came down the aisle resembling Eric Estrada, minus the chest hair.
When he has a cold it’s even worse, as he proved the other day during his quarterly hearing test.
At the ENT’s office, the audiologist had put my son in a sound-proof room and placed large headphones on his ears. These were the same headphones he’s worn many times before…but, the other times he didn’t have a cold.
Never mind that it was Fat Tuesday and my kid arrived at the doctor’s office wearing FIVE beaded necklaces around his neck. He likes to keep me guessing about what will really bother him, so I didn’t see it coming when the pressure from the headphones made him start gagging.
I could see him through a window and I quickly ran into the room and took the headphones off, as he began pulling on the collars of his shirt and undershirt, trying hard to get them away from his neck. I started unbuttoning his oxford to remove it as I explained to the audiologist what was going on.
We then tried putting the headphones on and letting the wires run down his back, thinking it could’ve been those wires touching his chin or neck that bothered him. No go. He gagged again and pulled on his undershirt collar, so I took that off too.
We finally figured out that he was okay doing a test with ear buds instead of the big headphones, but I had to hold all the wires behind his head so they weren’ t touching him in any way.
And in the middle of the hearing test his other sensory issue…his love of bare skin…reared its ugly head.
There I was with my hands full of wires, staring down at my half-naked kid who couldn’t hear a word I said…as I helplessly watched him rub his own nipples.