Friday, May 3, 2013

Oh! That's just Stimtastic! a.k.a. Our Life Without TV

(stimˈtastik) adjective 
1. used to describe a noun that will likely be used for some form of needed sensory input. 2. used to describe a noun, in a negative manner, that will more than likely overstimulate a person senses and lead to "space out" or "meltdown." example: The rainbow kaleidoscope wind chimes are simply stimtastic, let's avoid Xander seeing them so we do not cause an overload. 

      This is a word that I've created more by accident than anything else. I should also point out that my husband hates it. But with nearly endless threats throughout our day, I had to find a way to put a positive spin on an otherwise annoying issue. Sometimes being stimtastic isn't a bad thing, but more often than not I'm referring to something that just needs to be avoided or we end up with space cadet Xander or worse: a meltdown. True, uncorrupted meltdowns are rare for us right now but that's mainly because most of his sensory problems hit their boiling point when he doesn't get his way or can't understand why certain things are happening. We will notice he's been in a snippy mood for a few hours getting increasingly worse, then have him snap when pushed during therapy, only to find out that he's been going crazy over a tag in his shirt or a light in the window.

     We have noticed a real increase in this since stopping all tv/ipad usage. He will now visual stim off just about anything. He's discovered that when hanging upside down, the kitchen chandelier is really cool. Outside his favorite pastime is staring at and "talking" about the tree around the house. They seem to shimmer in the sunlight and rustle in the wind and he can't get enough of it. He's also now very fond of the textured walls of our apartment, at any given time of day, sunlight will hit one of the walls or ceiling and make the gloss paint shine, at which point he cracks up laughing. Even sunlight off the cars in the driveway can get him giggling; he likes to jump on his trampoline while watching the sun out the front door, double input!

     We've also noticed another "side effect" of no tv: he's yelling! Not everything he says is at an elevated volume, that I could handle. Nope, he's periodically screaming for no reason. We have found absolutely no rhyme or reason to why he does it, it can happen when he's happy, indifferent or upset. Our theory is that its just a form of input, that it feels good vibrating in his ears. Needless to say, it doesn't feel good to ours and I find myself with a headache nearly every night by the time he goes to bed. But oddly enough, we have found that super loud noise affect him even less than before. Xander normally won't bat an eye at a intense thunderstorm, even if its right overhead and the sound shakes the house. But now, as if it was even possible, he cares even less. More than just loud trucks and alarms, driving on the highway with the windows down put him to sleep! The noise it was almost too much for me to handle, if we hadn't been low on gas and 80 degrees, I wouldn't have tolerated it, but he could fall asleep to it?! He has a white noise maker as a baby and it took us forever to break his dependence on it but I was stunned at his ability to not just tolerate but enjoy it.

     I'm not about to bring back tv just because of these hiccups but I do long for the days when he will be able to understand and hopefully deal with the idea that it's one show and done. Until then its nothing or as little as possible, considering school is coming in the fall and digital devices are being used more and more.

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