Did you know that a piece of gum could change your life? The following is a story about how one piece of gum has changed our lives, for the better. Maybe it could change your life as well?
Our Back Story
When we first brought our 2 youngest children home from the hospital we had been involved in foster care for 3 years. They weren’t the first babies we had gone to the hospital to pick up, but they were the first babies that didn’t leave.
When J was 6 months old the ministry asked if we would consider adopting her. We were thrilled, we loved this little girl as our own she was a wonderful addition to our family. 7 months later we went to pick up her baby brother, E, and the plan was for us to adopt him as well.
J was the happiest baby ever! Always smiling, always giggling. Slept like a dream. Until she was 15 months that is.
E was not a happy baby. He cried. All. The. Time. It took us over a year to figure out all that was going on with him. He had more therapy appointments than any child we had ever had in our care.
FASD Affects Everyone Differently
J is now 6 and E almost 5. Life with them has been crazy, fun, exhausting, interesting, and very different than with our 3 biological children. And until this summer they had never, not once allowed us to sit through a church service. Or allowed us to stay in a store with both children until we were completely done shopping. We had not gone to any attractions like a zoo, museum, or aquarium without at least a couple of meltdowns or my husband or I taking one or both of the kids to the van to wait for the rest of the family.
Our kids were prenatally exposed to alcohol. FASD affects everyone differently. Among other things, our kids have many sensory issues. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they have Sensory Processing Disorder, but they are definitely sensory seekers. They have issues with crowds, bright lights, loud noises, strong smells, and not being able to move when and where they want.
We kept thinking they would grow out of it, but they didn’t, things kept getting worse! Until one day, early this summer, we happened to give them a piece of gum before going into the aquarium. My daughter had gotten car sick on the trip, so we gave her a piece of gum once we got to the aquarium to freshen her breath. And if our daughter gets something our son has to have it too, one of the joys of having kids that are only a year apart in age. Then a miracle happened! We made it through the whole afternoon without an incident.
It Truly Was A Miracle
There was no crying, no meltdowns, no leaving early. For the first time in five years we had a great time as a family. The kids were happy, the crowds did not overwhelm them and they weren’t overcome by all the sights and smells to the point where their brains could not handle it anymore. My husband and I were shocked! Absolutely amazed!
We Love Family Adventures
We are a family that likes to get out and do things. We believe in allowing our children to experience all sorts of new and interesting things. So, we have become experts of our kids. Always watching and waiting for signs a meltdown is about to occur. We always try to make sure our activities are geared for the whole family and we keep our youngest children in mind when we plan our adventures. We make sure to do more outdoor activities, places where kids can run around and explore. If we do go to an enclosed public place we go during the off season or during a time that it won’t be as busy.
Our trip to the Vancouver Aquarium was not any of those things! It was on a beautifully warm Sunday afternoon in July, basically their busiest time. We truly could not believe it. The kids’ Occupational Therapist had mentioned in passing that chewing on dried fruit or chewie necklaces may help them. But we definitely did not think it would help this much.
Gum Changed Our Lives
Since that day, we use gum every time we go somewhere. It’s not a perfect solution, but our lives have been changed by a piece of gum. We now sit through a whole church service. We’ve gone shopping and been able to purchase everything on the list. We even found out that what we thought was our daughter getting car sick was actually anxiety and not car sickness at all! She now grabs a piece of gum when we get in the van and she is able to make to our destination and back without being sick.
A piece of gum, truly has changed our lives…for the better.