My friend, Melissa McMillan, is also my super-amazing hairdresser. She can do anything and makes you look - and feel – awesome. My daughter has great looking hair because of her. She has a great eye and helps you figure out what will look the best on you.
So how come I don’t take Kamp to her?
Answer: I love Melissa too much to subject her to the mayham that results from trying to give Kamp a haircut. It’s loud and can get violent (there’s a lot of hitting)! But, instead of just talking about it, this week we took some video. It’s only about a minute of what turned out to be a 10-minute ordeal, and says more than I ever could put into words.
Please enjoy and feel free to chuckle and give thanks that this isn’t you!
Have you ever met a kid who could hurt themselves pretty bad and then act like nothing’s wrong? Well, meet Kamp. He has an amazing pain tolerence! But at the same time, if you take him into Express (the department store) – where they have bright colors and loud music – he will run out screaming bloody murder with his hands over his ears.
Kamp has sensory issues, lots of kids with autism do. Even people without autism suffer from sensory problems. My oldest brother experiences REAL pain whenever he hears aluminum foil being crumpled or the touch of styrofoam. I used to think that Kamp’s pain tolerence was pretty great until we were getting ready for church one Sunday morning. Kamp went into the bathroom and climbed up on the counter while my hair straightener was plugged-in to heat up. I heard him yell and ran in as he was trying to get down. I helped him down, gave him a bit of comfort, and in no time whatever was bothering him had passed. He ran out of the room and began running around acting silly. It wasn’t until we got to church and he was standing up on our bench – in his little church shorts - that we noticed he had a 2nd degree burn on his leg. It made me physically ill that he could have something on his body like that and I would have no idea. As I have learned more about sensory, I have read about children who’ve had broken bones and their parents had no idea - for DAYS sometimes. Kamp’s high pain tolerence sounds pretty cool, but to be honest, it just scares me to death.
On the other end, where he has a high tolerance for pain, he is VERY sensitive to light and sound. At church there are florecent lights everywhere and Kamp is constantly trying to turn off the lights, which really helps the kids stay reverent. He does this because he can see the constant flicker of the lights. Often, flickers that ”normal” people don’t notice until the bulb is about to go out. We also suspect he can hear the slight hum, again, something most of us don’t hear. He hates when the organ at church is turned on and can’t stand stores that have bright colors. He trys to leave, or just screams until we take him out. When he is bombarded by these things, he goes into sensory overload and – more often than not – it usually ends up in a melt down. He feels REAL physical pain; something I’m just beginning to understand; it must be horrible to have to fight these things every day of his life.
Through this journey we have learned a lot about this issue and how the brain and nervous system work together. For example, imagine you’re standing in a dark room. Without touching any part of your body, identify where your arms are in relation to your head and where you’re legs are in relation to your torso. You know where your different body parts are in reference to where your head is in space, because your nervous system tells your brain. It’s called proprioception. Kamp’s brain doesn’t always tell him where his body is in space. However, by applying pressure to certain points on his body, it helps force his nervous system to tell his brain so he can feel “normal” again. When he has a major melt down I have to resort to laying on top of him in an effort to apply enough pressure to his body. I usually sing his favorite song to help him focus and come back from where ever he goes in his head.
When some kids start to feel off, a lot of times they’ll figure out ways of getting stimulation on their own; sometimes you’ll notice they’ll spin in a circle or flap their arms. And sometimes – little boys – have a “natural way” off achieving the sensation they are searching for. And boy has Kamp discovered the “natural way.”
In the beginning he used to use trees, poles, table legs, etc. Whatever it was, he would sit down, wrap his legs around it and squeeze! Then, he discovered human arms worked just as well. And lucky for him, everyone has at least one. It’s incredibly embarrassing. It’s like I’m taking my untrained dog with me wherever I go.
The best story, though, has to be when Kamp “mounted” our good friend (we’ll call him Chris). Poor Chris – who isn’t exactly the hugging type – looked so uncomfortable trying to stop him. But not knowing what to do, he looked to us for a little help but we were too busy laughing. Kamp eventually stopped and we joked that Chris would never have us over again.
We are trying really hard to stop THAT kind of “stimulation.” It’s not helpful and obviously VERY socially inappropriate. If you do ever invite us over, you’d better keep a rolled up newspaper nearby (just in case).
And that my friends, is why he has earned the nickname “Puppy!”