Thursday, December 1, 2011

Taking Off the Coat

Connor spends yet another day frolicking in the snow remnants.

A few days ago, I retrieved Caleb from school mid-day. I entered his classroom smack dab in the middle of indoor recess. The kids milled around the classroom. Some boys sat on the floor tinkering with Legos. A group of girls huddled around art projects. A few children clutched books, and sat in a corner.

Despite the activity, Caleb was easily spotted. He was the one (the only one) clad in his winter jacket with the hood up. I wasn't surprised. Caleb adores his winter coat, and spends 95% of his waking time snuggled within its confines with the hood nestled around his face. His teachers and I have allowed this fashion statement to continue. He's pleasant and happy burrowed in his coat. Why change what's working?

I mentioned Caleb's affinity for his coat and hood to his doctor. She listened and then questioned why he places his hood up. Was he blocking out sensory stimuli? Shielding his eyes from luminous indoor lighting? Muffling loud noises? Or, was he using the hood as a sort of buffer between he and any social contact? Did it protect him from scary personal interactions and uncomfortable conversations?

As we talked, I thought about how handy a hood could be. Wouldn't it be nice to carry a shield of sorts against the more intimidating aspects of a day. Unpleasant conversations and disagreeable people could be avoided merely by snapping up the hood. But, I (and most) don't use hoods. Instead, I just learned to function during moments of comfort and distress.

Caleb's doctor and I agreed he needs to reduce his wearing of the coat and the hood. He needs more exposure to life, minus his self-made blinders. We agreed to remove the hood for little pockets of time, during meals first.

Today, he removed his hood during dinner. I gazed at his tufts of sandy blond hair with admiration.

It's a start.

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