Hands up who has heard this this week? My guess is that anyone whose taken their child to a party this weekend will have heard a variation on the theme “He’s worn himself out for you at least”.
Some kindly relative will say this as you watch twenty five-year-olds bounce up and down 500 times, no doubt throwing themselves into the path of a few other little bodies. Everyone watches on with a sort of wistful desire for that amount of energy and ability to rebound. You sip on Nescafe, just trying to get through the joyous noise without a headache and a little part of you knows they should nap after such exertions. But, if like me, you have a child with sensory processing issues you can see it will never be as easy as that.
Sure, all parents see their children get overtired, high on sugar (although apparently that’s scientifically impossible, hmm) or generally so “hyped” with excitement they get a poor night’s sleep. When they do go off to sleep they will be zonked out however there will be a knock on effect for most children who don’t have problems processing their day. I have even heard of children having lie-ins after exciting days (what is this lie-in you speak of?) However there are a unique and complicated set of circumstances that means that my child and other children with sensory processing issues may not sleep any better in fact will probably sleep worse after partying too hard.
– During the party he is in sensory seeker heaven. If you don’t really know where your body is in space throwing yourself down on soft play surfaces is very exciting and comforting. The technical explanation is he is getting lots of sensory input to his under-responsive proprioception system. This amazing feeling makes him very alert but he can gorge on this meaning he needs to calm down his body. We have lots of methods to calm down now such as firm pressure with the peanut ball but it’s still can leave his little body far too alert to stop moving and go to sleep.
– Speaking of gorging, Little A enjoys stuffing his mouth and eating lots. Loads of kids overeat at parties but whether it’s the sugar, lack of veggies or bowel sensitivity the results of eating too much can keep him awake.
– Emotional regulation is something I am just learning more about. If you are slow to process sensory input, processing what a feeling means is made far more complex. If you are not careful emotions around the excitement at birthday routines, anxiety about newness in an environment, anticipation for the good bits like cake can all go to over-whelming very quickly. A happy little boy can very soon switch.
– There is a lot to process in any setting (love this on NAS website sensory overload) and one of the main things I find that helps is telling the story of our day.
So no, he won’t sleep that well tonight but with a little work we will all be very happy that he has been able to join in the birthday fun.