Now that my granddaughter is in school full-time, I don’t get to spend as much time with her. She misses our time together, too. She loves having days off when we can stay at home. She calls them our “stay home days.”
I totally agree with her! I love having our “stay home days,” too! I often try to convince her on our stay home days that we just have a PJ day, but she insists on wearing her dresses! That part of her daily routine is one that she insists on keeping! She wants to get totally dressed!
I guess she is like me in a lot of ways, if she’s not dressed she feels like she can’t get things done! So we get dressed, even on our “stay home days.”
My granddaughter used to wear blue jeans and t-shirts and cute little blouses. She doesn’t wear them anymore. She only wants to wear dresses. She will submit to wearing leggings under her dresses, but she won’t wear anything else.
In the summer, she only wears dresses or her swim suit. We tried getting her to wear “skorts” which are skirts and shorts combined, but she won’t wear them. She will only wear them if we cut the shorts part out.
She won’t wear certain leggings if they are “bumpy.” Her socks have to be thin and smooth.
We didn’t want to admit what we knew was up—our granddaughter has a sensory disorder.
What’s a Sensory Disorder
In the simplest terms, a sensory processing disorder means that normal sights, sounds, tastes, smells in the environment don’t get processed correctly by the person experiencing the disorder. For example, in our granddaughter’s case, it is certain fabrics or things being too tight or too loose that cause her to “freak out” for lack of a better term.
She sometimes has similar experiences with certain foods, too, but the clothes are where she has the most difficulty.
Because there isn’t a lot we can do about this, we let her wear her dresses or other favorite clothes because it isn’t worth the “fight.” When I say fight, I mean just that. She screams, she cries, she throws a fit! The harder we try, the more she fights us!
We let her pick her clothing choices the evening before and lay them out so they are ready for her in the morning. Sometimes we have to make last minute changes because something about them bothers her.
How is This a “Hidden Treasure?”
It’s actually a lot of work finding the right clothes that she will wear. We can take her shopping and she will see the cutest little outfit. But if it gathers at the waist or has something with lace that will touch her skin, we know we can’t buy it because she won’t wear it no matter how much she insists that she will.
The hidden treasure comes into play in that we have to think more about what we do with our granddaughter. We have to pay extra attention to her needs. It makes us more thoughtful and caring about what she thinks and feels.
Sure, it is a lot more work to do this. Yes, it costs more because we sometimes have to spend a lot of money finding the right combination of materials so that she is comfortable, but it makes us grow, too. We don’t just take things for granted with her. We can’t.
We have to think of what might work for her. We are getting pretty good at it, but sometimes we still fail miserably because we still have to keep trying different things as she gets older.
Yesterday, we got her a new pair of dress shoes for her school Christmas concert. She loved the shoes when we were in the store. She walked and even ran around in them,
But when we got them home—a completely new story unfolded. The straps weren’t tight enough. Her foot bulged too much. Her socks weren’t right. The tights were too loose.
We took deep breaths and tried to explain how much she liked the shoes and that shoes did that. We tried to explain that the “high heels” that she had chosen were different from tennis shoes. We might as well have been talking to ourselves!
We agreed that the shoes will be worn during the concert alone and then probably not worn again!
Tying it All Together
We realize that not everything we think is always the way that things will be or even how they are. Our granddaughter has opened our eyes to many things including that we have to be more sensitive to the things that we don’t always understand.
We are learning and so is she. It isn’t easy, but we are working on it, together!
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About the author
Karin Nauber, “G.G.” is a professional journalist who has worked in the newspaper business for the past 27 years. She is also a grandmother who, along with her spouse, is raising one of their granddaughters. G.G. has five grandchildren with whom she enjoys spending as much time as possible. She began this website with the hope of helping other grandparents who may be struggling with their role as parent/grandparents. If you would like to contact her, please do so at: email@example.com.
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Spending quality time with grand children can be quite fulfilling, i don’t have a grandchild yet but i see the experience each time my dad visits my daughter.
Considering your daughters special condition much time and attention would be need to give her that special treat and allowance to be herself always, As she grows its going to be all worth it.
Thanks for visiting my site, Zuchii. She is an amazing little girl who has been through a lot and she definitely insists on being herself!
When you do have grandchildren, you will know this joy, too!
Hi Karin, thank you for sharing your story. As I was reading it, I thought your granddaughter sounded like an amazing little girl that enjoyed looking pretty. I have to admit, dresses are comfortable. Some are more comfortable than others.
I can say that I honestly wish that I loved every pair of shoes or boots that seemed comfortable in the store, once I got them home and was able to spend more time in them. I don’t know if kid’s feet swell during the day when they get hot, like I have noticed mine doing lately. I wonder if that could have contributed to the problem with her dress shoes.
I don’t know much about sensory disorders. It sounds like it can try your patience at times. Yet, you sound like a loving, wonderful grandmother. I hope you will be in a position that can continue to make sure that she knows that you love her just as she is. She sounds like a little princess to me. Best wishes.
Thanks for visiting my site Sondra! She is a precious little girl who loves to look pretty. She’s five and would like to wear makeup (the pretend stuff), but we don’t let her yet. We do let her paint her nails, though! Well, we paint them for her.
She really doesn’t like her new shoes much at all even though she thinks they are very pretty. She said she will wear them for her program and then she is not going to wear them anymore.
She is a little princess!
I love having pajama days with my son! But raising children is hard, even more so if they have a sensory processing disorder. My son occasionally complains about certain pants being too scratchy, but I’m lucky because it is only now and again. I commend you for doing so well looking after your granddaughter.
Thank you for visiting my site, Fiona. That is good that your son only complains occasionally about scratchy pants. My granddaughter does every day! But we just take it as par for course and tell her that she wore them last week and they were fine then! She doesn’t like that much, but when she knows I am right, she doesn’t have any argument left!
Thanks for sharing your touching story; like many, I can relate. While I’ve no specific experience with the sensory disorder you and your grand daughter deal with, I still can envision the situation, as every child has challenges. My grand kids have different issues and needs, but I find myself stretching and learning and coping as well. There is simply no reasonable way to appreciate, nurture and love a young, growing individual without stretching that way.
I’ve not raised a grandchild, and I get to care for mine far to infrequently, as they live thousands of miles away. My greatest challenge is to maintain those relationships and understand who they are and how they’ve changed when I see so little of them. As for raising someone the way you do, the closest experience I’ve had was my stint as a single parent when my son became too much for my first wife a few years after our divorce. While he had his challenges, they hardly compare with yours, and time has softened them in my memory; his oldest child is now the age he was when he came to live with me decades ago.
I do have a question about your relationship. Is it possible for you to negotiate with her on most behavior topics that are not related to her sensory condition?
Thank you so much for visiting my site, Steve. We do negotiate quite often on different items because she is pretty stubborn and strong-willed. It sure has been a challenge at times, but we can usually come to an understanding. Compromise can be a difficult concept for a 5 year old! 🙂 But we are learning from each other and take each day as it comes.
Hi Karen,I love everything you write, now sorry about that condition of your granddaughter. I wonder to know, have you seen a doctor? I remember in my childhood I was the same with lace touching my skin, also with those clothes with starch to look better… cried, fought, it bothered me a lot. I recommend to see a Dr, he/she will give you the answers and the right treatment. I wish everything will be good.
Thank you so much for your kind words! We have not taken her to a doctor yet. Her uncle had a very similar problem and the best think that worked for him was life and getting older and adjusting to things. It is a rather “touchy” situation so I can’t talk about it a lot, but we will be taking her in just to make sure it isn’t anything else!
Thanks for visiting my site again. It’s always an honor to have you stop by!
What a lovely site, Karin. Enjoyed reading about your grand-daughter. I am sure the so-called sensory disorder is more accurately described as a “phase” and she will grow out of it given time. Besides wearing dresses is rather nice and a lot more feminine than “blue jeans”. Dr. Alister
I totally agree with you. I seldom see girls wearing dresses anymore. But she loves it so I am glad she wears them! I think a lot of these “disorders” that are placed on children are phases. I am thinking of some of the phases I went through as a kid…
Thank you for visiting my site. I am glad you enjoyed it!