To my baby boy,
I first met you three years ago, but I’ve known you for a while. You were in our hearts for years, and then for months you and I shared a body. I felt your kicks, your hiccups, your stretches. I fought mastitis and clogged ducts in order to feed you for a year. I rocked you back and forth in the wee hours of the night until you were old enough to fall back to sleep on your own.
You’ve learned so much in the past three years. You now know how to write the letters “A” and “O,” you can sign several letters, and you can read/spell your name with ease. You know your colors in Spanish and how to count to “twenty-ten.” You know how to cut with scissors and how to do a perfect somersault. You know when it’s time to be silly and when it’s time to sit criss-cross applesauce.
You don’t understand yet, but someday I hope you realize how loved you are. How we’ll go to the lengths of the world for you. How much we enjoy your silly, sometimes-sassy attitude. How we hope you grow up to be considerate, independent, and happy. How we hope to teach you everything you need to know to navigate this crazy world.
We love you so, SO much. Happy third birthday, Leon Maddox ❤️
Me, watching a driver swerve back and forth on the road: “What the hell?!”
Leon: “H. H for ‘hell’!”
Out at a restaurant, where a woman was chatting on her phone so loudly that it was distracting us several booths away:
Leon: “WHAT’S THAT NOISE?”
Minh, keeping cool: “That noise is Leon!”
Leon: “NO, THAT NOISE IS THE WOMAN!”
I turned in the Starbucks parking lot and Leon said, “Mommy’s getting coffee?”
Shhhh… we’re not here often enough for you to know that!
This morning, a week and a half after Leon’s occupational therapy needs assessment, I went to the parent consultation with the director/owner of the clinic to discuss her findings.
Long story short, he definitely has some auditory sensitivities, and she congratulated me for being so in-tune with his needs. For the auditory-processing test, scores range from 10-50 with “typical performance” marked as a 35-43. Leon scored a 13.
He also failed almost all of the tasks that involved closing his eyes. This went along with her secondary finding that he relies on his vision almost exclusively out of all his senses, which may be why he’s so scared in the dark (he can’t see where the sounds are coming from).
She found that Leon is extra sensitive to tactile/touch as well, which surprised me. He is less sensation-seeking than others, possibly because he is overstimulated; and he still has some primitive baby reflexes, which may or may not be limiting/hindering his movement patterns.
She gave us a couple options for treatment, one of which is an occupational therapy plan tailored for him that would address not only the hearing but also the touch sensitivities and on strengthening his non-visual senses. He’d have a standing appointment with a therapist once a week where they’d work with him on these things for 50 minutes. I’m excited that there’s “something” out there for him, and looking forward to getting him the help he needs.
What is your name?
[wearing firefighter hat] “Um, Fireman. And I got my water hose.” [swings wrapping paper tube]
How old are you?
“Um, no! I don’t wanna talk to Mommy.”
When is your birthday?
“It’s Leon’s birthday?”
How old is your dad?
“Um, Daddy’s birthday?”
How old is your mom?
[No answer, playing with wrapping paper tube]
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite food?
“Pineapples!” [He does not like pineapple]
Who is your best friend?
“Ummm, Claudia and Elmo and Cookie and Ernie and Bert and Grover.”
What is your favorite animal?
“Um, a cow say ‘mooooo’!”
What are you scared of?
“The thunder and lightning.”
What makes you happy?
Where is your favorite place to go?
“Pick a balloon.”
What do you want to be when you grow up?
“No, I don’t know. Mommy, spray the waters.” [hands me wrapping paper tube]
Leon got a black Batman slap-bracelet while trick-or-treating at my office on Halloween. He has refused to take it off for the past three weeks (aside from baths and showers) and also for some reason he insists on wearing it around his right ankle. How does one explain to a toddler that it looks like he’s wearing an ankle monitor 🤔
Leon: *holds his favorite Big Bird doll lovingly*
“A is for apple. B is for…BYEEEEE!” *chucks Big Bird across the room*
Leon’s been up until 11 p.m. the last few nights because he was terrified of the wind outside. I started writing a blog article yesterday about how Leon is afraid of everything, moreso than what I feel is typical of toddlers, and in writing the post I listed all the things he’s scared of.
- Fire alarms
- The refrigerator when it makes ice
- Motorcycles, car engines revving, traffic
- The vacuum
- The sound of the daycare kids in the gym next door
It didn’t take long before I realized that all of the unusual/unrealistic things that he’s scared of are noises. So I started doing some research and came across an article about Auditory Sensitivity and Auditory Processing Disorder, and in the list of signs and symptoms, Leon literally identified with all of them:
- The child dislikes loud or unexpected sounds, e.g., fire alarms, sirens, school bells, fireworks.
- They may startle easily to unexpected sound, e.g., sirens, motorcycle going past.
- The child may dislike higher-pitched sounds such as vacuum cleaners or hand dryers.
- They could have difficulty with low hum pitched sounds such as a refrigerator or lorry engine.
- The child may be easily distracted by background noises such as traffic outside, background music, an air conditioner, a refrigerator or buzz from fluorescent lights.
- They may notice sounds that others don’t notice.
- The child may cover their ears to sounds.
- They could dislike of cinema or concerts due to the noise level.
Obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean he has anything, but I felt like looking down that road might bring us some answers. So he has an appointment with his pediatrician on Monday to get a referral to a pediatric occupational therapist or audiologist.
Me: “You’re a sillypants.”
Leon: “No, I’m not a sillypants.”
Me: “Well then who’s a sillypants? Is it Daddy?”
Leon: “No, Ava’s a sillypants!”
Me: “…Ava? Who’s Ava?”
Leon: “A sillypants!”