We were in the store and saw a child having a meltdown. We felt bad for the child but we felt even worse for the mom who was trying to handle the situation. Not even 10 feet away from them stood a couple who started talking to each other in loud voices about how spoiled the child was.
It got even worse when they began to criticize the mother for not being strict enough with the child. Then they talked about how they would never have tolerated that kind of behavior with their own children. Everyone heard them and then the mother began to sob. It was time to step in and help. After all, that’s what we do!
Meltdown or Tantrum?
GUESS WHAT? We found out that the mom was dealing with her daughter who has Sensory Processing Disorder. She was exhausted and couldn’t handle the constant criticisms anymore. We asked the onlookers if they had raised kids with special needs? They said that their children were very normal and that using special needs as an excuse wasn’t the way to raise a child.
Have you ever been critical of a parent who was dealing with a child’s meltdown in a public place?
Think about a few things and maybe… just maybe you will be more understanding. A tantrum and a sensory meltdown are two totally different things. A tantrum happens when a child doesn’t get something he or she wants or needs.
A sensory meltdown happens when the child feels overwhelmed!
Meltdown or Tantrum?
Maybe the noises in the store or too many things to focus on send a child with SPD into a meltdown. For onlookers, a tantrum and a sensory meltdown appear to be the same but they far from being the same. For the child with SPD, too many sensory inputs flood the brain and a meltdown is a way to release the pressure.
Have you ever tried to use a funnel to fill a bottle with some liquid only to see that too much liquid causes the bottle to spill over? Have you ever turned on a hose to fill a bucket only to see that the pressure of the water in the hose causes the bucket to spill over? Both of these situations are only mild examples of what a child with SPD is feeling. Do you feel less critical? We hope so!!
People worry about differences. Animals just deal with differences in the best way possible. This is Lucy and she has only three legs… not four.
She had an accident when she was a puppy and lost her fourth leg. Is she feeling sorry for herself? Is she worrying about her future and what her life be like with only three legs? NO! Lucy is waking up each morning and facing the new day with a positive attitude. Why? Because she gets it. Lucy gets that life is what we make it and differences are not the focus! Things happen. Good and and bad happens but we have a choice. We can live our lives with gusto and happiness or we can spend our lives feeling sorry for ourselves because we were dealt a bad hand. We can focus on what others have and what others can do or we can focus on life and all that it has to offer!
What a waste it is to teach children the message that they are not the same or that they have less than other kids. Wouldn’t it be better to teach them that everyone is different? That everyone has more or less than they do? That everyone comes from a different place and everyone has an issue? Wouldn’t it be better to teach them that color, race, religion, and every other difference is just that? A Difference and not a bad thing?
Think about it. Think about your own problems. Think about what problems others have and what is happening in the world today. Then… think about Lucy! Think about how she deals with adversity and how she faces each day.
Maybe… just maybe… you might begin to understand what Lucy, the three legged dog understands. Accept differences and embrace differences! Welcome everyone who is different because they may be the very ones who change your life for the better!