I haven’t had too much to say since we’ve been enjoying the summer–at least, the summer, such as it is in Northern England. But briefly, I’d like to say a word about parental instinct.
For a host of reasons that I’ve been gathering, tracking, and as of today actively journaling over the last few weeks and trying inadequately to describe to far-away family members, we’re bringing Maggie to the pediatrician for a referral to whatever the UK’s version of Early Intervention is. Whatever…this…is, if it is anything at all, I am not sure. I’ve had nothing to go on but a few incidents and a nagging feeling in my gut that something was not…quite…right.
There’s something about the way Maggie processes the world that makes me wonder. Hating the feel of the hairbrush and toothbrush or the feeling of water coming out of the faucet. Becoming upset and repeating “Loud noises don’t hurt” over and over to reassure herself when she hears an unpleasant sound. Most heartbreaking of all is backing away from children her own age in a defensive posture, hands up, visibly nervous that they may engage further. It doesn’t happen that way every time; she’s been able to play with some friends’ kids. But most of the time it’s “hands up, back away.”
And most recently, today: a full-blown panic attack (body locked, hyperventilating, sobbing, begging to go to the car) at a baby ballet class that until now she’s made a few attempts to endure, if not happily. This is not the first meltdown in class or the first one that forced us to leave and find a dark corner to calm down; it was the first time we had to leave almost as soon as the class started. It was thirty minutes before I could calm her down enough to even attempt to figure out what might have triggered her reaction. She calmed down enough to agree to go into the adjoining kid’s gym play area, where she buried herself to the neck in the plastic ball pit and remained as motionless as a lawn ornament for twenty minutes before she requested to go home.
I’ve read the literature and I’m quite confident this is not autism. I’m also feeling good that it’s not full-blown sensory processing disorder; she likes to fingerpaint with her yogurt as much as the next toddler, adores the sea and sand, and would eat rebar if only we covered it in tomato sauce. Nobody is going to be more excited than I am to hear that this is nothing; just a phase (albeit a long, protracted, well-predating our move to England phase) or something easily dealt with. I’ve hesitated even saying anything when all I have are a few hunches and a couple incidents that make me say “Hmm…”
I hope I’m overreacting and that we are not about to leap over the edge into an unknown world. I really do. But our instincts say that we need to talk to someone. And so we are.