I feel so grateful to be connecting with so many incredible people in this great city of ours!
It is really an honour to sit and learn about the lives of others and to connect to the sameness and oneness...to embrace the uniqueness. It is humbling to lap up the victories we have (no matter what their size), and to acknowledge the challenges and gifts that come from our journey.
Meet Andrea, Dean, Oscar, and Maisie, a British family living in Dubai. Andrea may be a familiar face to some of you as the face of Out of the Blues, a support group to help women facing post natal depression.
Each time I meet a new family I feel honoured to be allowed to enter their world and to learn something new. Please take a moment to listen to the story of one family's day to day journey living with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), and SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).
1) Tell us about your family please Andrea?
We're a British family who has been in Dubai for 8 years, and moved here when Oscar was 1. Maisie was born a year later. My husband is an insurance broker, and I'm a qualified Doula and baby massage instructor. I also run a group called "Out of the Blues" that reaches out to mother's experiencing post natal depression.
Oscar was diagnosed with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) a year and a half ago. We didn't want to label him, but we knew he was quirky. We feel a lot of schools have trouble acknowledging special needs. These needs can often be mistaken for bad behaviour. Oscar is a sensory seeker which means he needs movement breaks. He has fidget toys and cushion to help get through his lessons at school.
Oscar also deals with separation anxiety and OCD, but he currently attends mainstream school.
2) What would you say is Oscar's biggest gift?
Dean- He is incredibly bright, sharp, and loving to people he cares about. He has the most amazing ability to ask questions about things we don't think about.
Andrea-He helps you to see the world differently and thinks outside the box.
3) What is your biggest challenge living with Oscar's needs?
Andrea- The judgement and looks that people make when we're out in public. They just assume he's naughty. He also has tactile defensiveness, so that means he is hypersensitive to pain. If he fell over, and/or got a slight bump he feels the pain exponentially. In this instance, when I approach him, he's very likely to lash out as a coping strategy.
Dean- Today we were at the bike park, and he banged his leg, which meant he screamed, and he lashed out at me. I got hit, he told me he hated me, and the bike was left behind.
Andrea- I often get the attitude from others "Why have you allowed that to happen?"
4) Maisie, what is your biggest gift? What is the best thing about Oscar?
I am kind. Oscar is kind, and he tries helping me when I'm in trouble. He's the first person there to help me.
5) Andrea, what have you found the most helpful in Dubai?
Oscar is working with an OT (Occupational Therapist) from kidsFIRST Medical Center named Lauren who just gets him.
Lauren's been great, the support has been more than we could ever expect. We've been lucky to connect with other families dealing with similar issues. I don't think we would have the luxury of having such a tight knit community in the UK as we do here. I think because we are expats lacking the family support network we would have at home, when we meet someone going through similar things, we build a stronger bond in a shorter amount of time.
6) Oscar, if you met another little boy who has SPD or OCD, what would you say to him?
Oscar- Have you washed your hands?
Andrea looks at him and says "Is that what you would say?"
Oscar- Yes (continues playing)
****What was really interesting from my point of view was that the children were playing in the dirt outside when I first photographed them. When they came inside it was like a switch went off and Oscar realised that he needed to wash his hands several times. He also had to have a shower which Andrea excused herself during the interview to assist him. In the end I asked if they would like a family photo taken outside. Oscar clearly did not want to go outside again and I could clearly witness just a bird's eye view of what it must be like to live with his condition.
7) What would you like to say to the world about Oscar?
Andrea- Don't judge a book by it's cover.
Dean- Oscar is very sharp and funny, his comedic timing is great.
Andrea- When your child is first diagnosed it's pretty scary, and then I think "special" is the perfect way to describe him.
Thank you all for your honesty and bravery in sharing your story with us! The courage it takes to open up and share your world is beautiful.