Monday, January 27, 2003

Touching an angel

April Cain's latest column on Mothers with Attitude, The Healing Power of Touch, reminds me strongly of how my son behaved when we first brought him home (and for quite some time after that), and gave me a much-valued opportunity to think about how far he's come. Like April's son, mine had a sensory system that went into high alert when someone tried to touch or hold him. Nearly two years in a Russian orphanage gave him no neural experience of sustained loving touch, and it took time, patience, and sensory integration therapy to turn him into the cuddle-bug he is today. He's cuddly well past the age at which boys stop wanting to snuggle with their moms, but his body now craves that which it once rejected. Amazing things, our nervous systems.

Reading April's column brought me back to those early days when I was trying so hard to figure out what it was with him, before I realized how neatly the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Effects put the pieces together, before I could reflexively pick out signs of sensory integration dysfunction in so many children in addition to my own, when I was operating on an instinct which I had no particular reason to trust. My brain's undergone some changes, too.

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