05 March 2008

A Letter to Riley

[inspired by today's post at Ask Moxie, "The Right Way."]

My dearest Ri-Man,

I'm writing you this letter because I don't know what else to do. I'm hoping that by writing this letter, I'll find some answers to a problem that has been plaguing me for just over twenty months now. I feel embarrassed that I need to write this letter, and I hope you never see it, but for now, I need to try to put this all into words, no matter how painful the process might be.
Ri-Man, I love you with all my heart. I really, really do. But I do not know how to be your mother.
After twenty months, it's only gotten harder rather than easier. I don't know what makes you tick. I don't know how to help you feel better when you are sad. I don't know how to make mealtimes enjoyable for you. I don't know how to help you sleep.
You were part of my body for 38.5 weeks. Half of what you are is me, and the other half is from the person I knew best in this world, a person I understood completely. Somehow, the combination of your daddy and me has created in you a being that I find to be a total mystery, and this fact makes me sad, confused, hurt, and angry.
Not at you, although sometimes I take it out on you. Mostly at myself, because if I—your own mother—can't understand you, who can?
It's not that I don't know you. Oh, I know you very well. You are sensitive in every way, my sweet boy. Emotionally, you are the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I spend all of our time together a bit edgy, waiting for you to freak out about something. It could be anything that sets you off, but inevitably it's something. Most of the time, I either don't know what it is or I know what it is and can't help you fix it. When you get upset, I try diversion. I try rocking with you or giving you a big hug, although many times when I do this you push me away. I try letting you just have a few minutes to yourself to cry, and reassure you that it's OK to feel sad sometimes and need your space. None of these tactics seems to help much. Eventually, you come around no matter which tack I take, but even once you come around, I feel like you never fully turn the corner, that at any moment, anything could push you right back over the edge. Sometimes you won't meet my eyes when I'm talking to you, as though it's just too intense to hold my gaze and you have to look away.
You are cognitively sensitive. You need things to be just so. If drawers are open, you want them shut. If something is spilled, you need it to be wiped up now. If the lid on the toilet is up, you need me to close it.
You're physically sensitive, too. You have allergies. You are more likely than your sister or me to get sick. You hate the feel of the wind on your face. You don't like having dirty hands. You won't wear sweaters.
I know all of these things. I know that you like trucks, that you'd live on milk and milk alone if I let you, that you think peek-a-boo is hilarious, that anything with buttons to push rocks your world. Oh, yes, I know you. But I feel like I don't get you. I feel like you haven't really settled into the world yet, like you're still trying to decide if being out of the womb is really all it's cracked up to be, and like the process of taking in all this information overwhelms you at times.
To the outside observer, you are a happy kid. While I don't think that's necessarily untrue, I don't think that happy-go-lucky is your baseline. Which is OK, but it's hard for me to understand and therefore it's hard for me not to be impatient with you sometimes. You are so different from me, so amazingly different, and I have a hard time just letting that difference be.
I want to give you everything you need. Unfortunately, I often have no clue as to what your needs are. In addition, when I do know what you need, I can only give you all that I have to give. Sometimes that falls short. I know that you need more one-on-one time with me. But there's only one of me, and I have to split in three among you, your sister, and myself. That leaves all of us shortchanged. I can't remedy that, and it leaves you emotionally hungry and me sucked dry. I wish I could bring your daddy back or clone myself or do something so that you could have more of that attention that you so desperately crave.
And here we have really hit the heart of the problem, I think. It's not that I don't know what to do for you, it's just that I can't do it. I can't give you the percentage of myself that you want. When we spent the day together last Friday, I was able to give that to you, and oh! How you thrived. But I can't do that every day. I try to explain this to you, but you are so little. Even if you only understand the most basic gist of what I'm saying for now, over time you'll understand more and more and more. Right? I sure hope so.
I'm trying to teach you how to meet some of your needs yourself, but you are so young to have to do that. I can never decide if it's better to indulge your need for all the drawers to be closed, or if it's better to help you start learning now that things won't always be just so. I want to protect you, but I need you to learn.
Writing this letter has helped. I don't feel any closer to the answers right now, but I do feel reassured of how well I know you, and, on some level, how well I understand you. I know that I'm not a perfect mama, but I'm your mama, and thus the best mama for you. I just wish it felt more natural, or that I felt I was doing a better job. It's my own struggle to manage my desire for perfection, not yours. You are my ultimate test, and thus you have so much to teach me. It's up to me to learn.
I love you, sweet boy. Thank you for being patient with your very imperfect mama.


Laura said...

I've never commented before, but I love your blog. Beautiful writing, so real. Your son is lucky to have a mother who loves him so much and is trying so hard.

My reason for de-lurking though-- have you heard of sensory processing disorder (also called sensory integration disorder)? I'm pretty sure you read Tertia's blog-- her son has this. My godson (age 6) has it as well. So much of what you describe with Riley resonates with my experience with my godson. Normal, happy, smart boy... but a challenge. His mother, my good friend, has a supportive husband, stays home with her children, and still feels like you do. Like her son is a mystery to her and she doesn't know what to do. She has gotten help, though, and things are improving!

Reading one book was a watershed moment for her--"The Out-of-Sync Child". She said there should have been a picture of her son on the cover. Her son goes to Occupational Therapy and that has helped. Time has helped too, they're both learning to understand each other and cope with it better.

I really just lurk at Tertia's blog too, but I am struck by the similarity between you two. Lives touched by grief, working mothers, boy-girl twins with a sensory, high-needs boy and an easier girl. A possible resource there?

Best wishes to you.

glove said...

Writing is such a wonderful outlet, isn't it? I have no mom advice - still a few weeks away from technically being a mom, though my due date ticks ever closer. But I do enjoy reading about your experiences, and thinking about what's coming. The highest highs. The lowest lows. I wish you lots of luck growing in your relationship with little Riley. You are doing the right thing.

Andrea said...

I dont believe Ive commented before but I really cant say, I love this letter to Riley you said everything I feel for my little one when her world is just not so and mommy cant make it better and its frustrating my daughter is a few months younger than Riley so I cant say maybe they outgrow this or maybe we will just always have intense children, I do know one thing no matter what I love her all the same and you can tell from your letter you feel the same for your Ri-Man.

Karyn said...

Oh man, Snick. A wonderful letter. And so like one I wrote Grace when she was about nine months old: also difficult for me to "get." I felt so, so guilty about having such a tough time with her--and occasionally still do. But, I do understand her better and continually strive to meet her needs the best I can. The thing about Grace, though, is that she continues to thrive and grow into a really wonderful person (sometimes I feel despite me!). I'm sure the same will be true for Riley. You are an amazing mother, of this I am sure. He will thrive. And you will be amazed by what he becomes.

One book that did help me, too, was "Raising Your Spirited Child" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka (sp?). It helped me not only understand my kids' "triggers," but mine, too, so I saw that Anna was just as needy, we just have similar needs, so she was easier for me to parent. It's worth checking out, I think.

Take care. I think of you often and wish we could catch up over coffee and that I could give you a big hug. Love being back in touch.

caro said...

What a smart thing to write. What a smart way to approach this. My daughter is similarly mysterious to me right now. It's such a helpless feeling, knowing there's something you just don't "get".

Anonymous said...

I was just about to write what laura wrote. My son was so so so similar as a baby, the skin, the emotions, etc. Dr's didnt' take it too seriously...he's a boy. They'd say. Finally, his pre-school teacher wrote me a note describing the exact same issues at school. I took that note to our pediatrician, who acted like God wrote that note; ordered tons of tests, and behold! Sensory Integration Disorder.

While we still have challenges (he's now 9) all of the therapy, diet changes, coping skills, etc. have worked wonders and has allowed my son to feel more like a "normal" kid. Thus allowing a more "normally" functioning household. (I suppose I should write average rather than normal)

Hang in there! You're a great Mother - I'm certain of it. :)

thrice said...

Have you called Early Intervention? Riley should really be evaluated. It's free and while I'm in a different state I would be happy to help you navigate the system.

Both my twins have sensory issues, but are not severe enough to qualify for a sensory disorder, but they do qualify for a 2 x 30 at a really neat sensory gym that they work privately with an OT therapist.

Good Luck. Nice letter.

Jolene said...

*tears* beautifully written. How I wish I actually had some words of wisdom for you. Riley is so lucky to have you as his mother...he truly is. You are wonderful at it...I am learning from you Snick.

Anonymous said...

I have two little love of my lifes and the first is my daughter, who I really understand, but is the total opposite of me. My son is similar to me, cautious and skeptical but once you get to know is loyal as can be. But I find I have a really hard time understanding him too. A good friend of mine (happens to be a male) told me something that stuck with me. When my son climbed on his little night stand and jumped off I was telling him about it and I said "why would he do that?", his response was "why not". My son and I view things differently and I find myself quite often learning things from him which I now understand is why he is in my life and how lucky I am. (also helps he is a little older now and can articulate things to me.)

Christine said...

Snick, you are amazing. Just amazing. And I suspect you are more in tune with your son than you think. I actually hope you do show him that letter someday. It reveals a deep well of knowledge about your son.

tree town gal said...

Beautiful, touching and brave letter, Snick. You never cease to amaze. And I have to say, I was thinking of Tertia's son, too, when I read this.

debangel said...

That was a beautiful letter to the Ri-man. I hope you save it for him to read someday.

I hate to sound like an echo but I also immediately thought of Tertia's son Adam when you described Riley. I know, one more thing to be on your plate, right? Either way, things can and will get better. I just wish I could speed up the process for you!

So, where's that Paypal button, hmm? Starbucks has the new honey latte now, too. I haven't tried one but I would love to get us a cup! C'mon, let us buy you a drink, you need one =)

Anonymous said...

I usually lurk but I feel the need to chime in. I agree with Laura that it's worth having R evaluated for sensory integration disorder. It was my first thought upon reading your entry. My best friend's son has it and has made great strides with early intervention.

Anonymous said...

I'm usually a lurker but let me take this opportunity to chime in and let you know how much I love your writing. We all feel so imperfect as parents...you seem to be doing such a wonderful job. I hate to jump on the bandwagon but I had such an amazing experience with early intervention with my own son that I'd like to wcho other commenters. It truly made such a remarkable difference for him. He's now in 5th grade and doing wonderfully!

Julia said...

I think this letter removes your right to call yourself a very imperfect mother.
I am also thinking that it might be a good idea to evaluate Ri-Man on the sensory integration front. I know a kid who had some of the same behaviors and he was evaluated and had some services that helped him and his family a great deal. I don't mean to sound like Ri-Man must have this since this other kid has it, and I hope it doesn't come out that way. Trying to say that if there is a chance both of you can get some help, it might be a good idea to check into it.

halfmama said...

I could have written this to Buddy (if only I wrote as well!) at Ri's age. ALL of it. I too wondered if he had a sensory disorder of some sort. I was constantly noting everything he seemed to be sensitive to; light, cold, hot, noise... of course, it makes it seem worse when the other twin has very little or no reaction to the same things. Everything, like you said, had to be JUST SO.

I have no idea what you should or shouldn't do... obviously only you know that. But, in our case... Buddy and I finally connected. I think things turned once he started talking. He seemed so frustrated before, knowing that we were not understanding him. Now? He is at his happy-go-lucky baseline, with only occasional dips... usually when he's tired or sick. He's still more sensitive to certain things than Bean, but markedly less so than before.

Hang in there. You and Ri will find your connection soon.

BrooklynGirl said...

Your son is lucky to have you, Snick.

Anonymous said...

There has been a lot of talk of sensory issues but I wonder this: could little Riley, like you, be struggling because he is grieving?

Anonymous said...

Your letter was beautifully written. I would take all of this to your pediatrician and see what they think. It might help you to understand Riley better. The fact that you are so aware of your son and his likes/dislikes/needs just proves what a great mom you are and how in tune with him you really are.

Snickollet said...


I have often wondered if grief might be a big part of Riley's nature. He's so incredibly tuned into emotions, and my grief has been more intense lately. He was the one who had lots of nightmares in the weeks after John's death. Lately he's talked about John a lot: "Daddy's hat! Daddy's brush! Daddy's shirt!" etc. I think there's something to it.

Eliza said...

Um, okay, I hate to do this because I don't know Riley myself, but I have two children who are on the autism spectrum, and what you describe, the having to have things "just so," the hating of the wind on his face or dirty hands, refusing to wear certain clothes...it's really familiar. I am not qualified to diagnose anyone, I'm a former college English professor, now a full-time invalid and caretaker to three special-needs little anklebiters. Not every kid with sensory issues is autistic, and not every autistic kid is completely unaffectionate, shut in their own mind, etc. Your mommy radar is going off for a reason, though, and I think you need to take him to his pediatrician, yes, but don't stop there. I did, and my oldest missed out on five years of early intervention when I believed what I wanted to believe: that my kid was quirky but essentially fine. Most cities or counties have EI people who will come to your home and administer the Denver II for free, and that's a good place to start. Also, I wanted you to know that you're not alone in "not knowing how to be his mother." My middle child, who is more affected than my oldest, well, honestly the kid kind of seems to dislike me, and I never seem to know instinctively the way I do with my other two how to make things better. My middle child, after months and months of therapy (PT, OT, and educational therapy) is preparing to enter a preschool next year that puts kids on the spectrum in with neurotypical kids, and with that socialization and training in how to be a kid at school (standing in line, for example, and being without familiar caretakers for the first time) our wonderful educational therapist feels we have a good shot at mainstreaming in kindergarten. It's not anything you're doing wrong, trust me, and I KNOW that Riley loves you, he just may be too overwhelmed with sensory input his brain isn't wired to handle instinctively to express much besides what could be mistaken for sheer orneriness. E-mail me if you want to discuss this in private, but I agree that your knowing so much about his likes and dislikes and what he needs to be soothed points toward your being an awesome mom.

Kristin said...

HI there,

First, what a beautiful letter, and what a beautiful way to try to lay out there what's troubling you.

Second, if lots of other people hadn't already chimed in, I'd be broaching the subject of connecting with Early Intervention. I immediately got the same vibe that a couple of people have gotten (sensory integration or autism spectrum). I know the words are scary, and overwhelming -- but...how do I put this? You DO know how to be his mother: you're being his mother (and a darn good one at that) by writing this letter, and by listening to what one commenter called your "Mommy radar." I don't think it can hurt to try to connect with E.I. (free, yes?), to say, "Something seems off and I could use some suggestions." Maybe there's something they can help with -- or maybe he's just a little boy at a tough age -- or maybe he's grieving, and maybe somebody can help you shepherd him (and you) through.

I'm pulling for you and Ri-Man, and I wish you all the best.

Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful letter. I truly believe you and R will work it out. Remember, you are his parent for at least 18 years.

I like the Kurcinka (not sure of the spelling of her name, but 'raising your spirited child') because she gives you this feeling that you are in a room of parents like you. It's a good read, if you have the time. But if you don't it will be fine too.

-Shandra (SL)

momjoan said...

Your letter touched my heart - it was so beautiful. I am delurking to let you know that Riley sounds like my son Ryan (I call him Ry man too). My Ryan has Sensory Integration Disorder. You need to look into this as there is help that can make life easier for both of you. I am not sure where you live (for some reason I think it is near a University town). I am lucky that there is a University Health Science Center where I live and they had people studying it (a lot of pediatricians don't recognize it or know how to spot it.) I love your blog. Hang in there - I've been through some unimaginable times and somehow it does get easier (sorry to say that as I hated it when people would tell me that.)

Lora said...

I know that people hate it when other people jump in and give advise unsolicited to parents. The funny thing is that my advise is the exact same advise as the first comment I see when the comments come up. I was going to ask it you had ever heard of Sensory Processing and Sensory Processing Disorder. As a therapist who works with children with this AND the parent of a child who didnt eat, sleep, poop, bath, laugh, smile, swing, cuddle (you get the idea) easily who was eventually diagnosed with and treated for and now doing well with SI.... I would suggest calling your state's early intervention program (if you dont know who or what that is go here www.nectas.org) and check out the book 'The Out Of Sync Child'.
It DOES get better.... and I did it on my own too.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't planning to jump on a bandwagon today, but I have to agree with others who have suggested you call your state's early intervention program. I am director of a family resource center serving parents of children who are enrolled in our state's early intervention program ... and I know how hard it is to make that first telephone call ... but an assessment will really help provide you with so much information. Whatever the outcome - whether there is nothing there, or if there is something that will qualify your child for free early intervention services - you will be ahead of where you are now.

Early intervention (services for children birth to 36 months of age) are amazing. It's such a time of fluid developemnt - a true window of opportunity to head off so many problems before they become permanent/ chronic.

BTW, I have been lurking for a long time, and I would like to say I think you are doing a wonderful job with your children.

Jen said...

there are so many things that i've learned as a parent.. but the main thing is that i really knew NOTHING about being a parent.. even after trying for years and having a lifetime worth of experience with children.. every day i'm struck by how i can be so dumbfounded.

i've read through the other comments that have been left to this letter that you wrote (which, btw.. is a great way of sorting through feelings/thoughts). there are a lot of wise people who obviously care about you and your family. we're one of them.

shiela and i were talking just last night about riley when we were talking about the sleepover idea. we both agreed that we think that, especially given his sensitivity, that there are two things that i think could be factoring into this.

1.. Riley was almost a year old when his dad died. We often don't think that kids this young can remember or be upset about a loss like this.. but I did learn during my stint at mclean that even infants are aware of the loss of a primary care giver and that the grief can stay with them because they don't understand it or know how to express it. You might consider talking to his pediatrician about it.. lots of kids go on food strikes and have wacked out sleeping.. but i think that your family has been through the spin cycle and it could be that Riley is sad and doesn't know how to express that or understand it.

#2. you're upset and sad. i KNOW that the kids pick up on this. when i was going through PPD, ben was affected and he was just a few months old. he may be worried about you. being so sensitive.. he may feel responsible for making you happy. the day you had with just the two of you was a hit because he got attention, but also because i'm sure he felt that you were more at ease. while both kids are so young, studies have shown that they are incredibly intuitive when it comes to their caregivers feelings and the world around them.. they just can't put it in words and it can be frusterating and confusing for them.. resulting in all of the things you've been seeing.

as an aside.. all of us are offering our thoughts and i hope you take them as they are intended.. as offers of our experiences, but obviously none of us truly knows what's going on in riley's mind right now. what we do know is that both of you are upset and please know that to me at least.. it sounds like you're both experiencing normal reactions to the devastating loss of john not to mention the years of challenges and emotional weight of the past few years.

as an aside.. raising twins is damned heroic. with just a singleton, i've often felt at a loss when ben is upset and inconsolable.. the most recent events with his seizure pushed that to the limit.. we was (and still is) so terrified at the hospitals that there was nothing we could do to explain things to him in a way he could understand and all of the comforting we offered still never seemed like enough. i was in tears more because i couldn't make him feel safe than because of worrying about the situation. being a parent is terrifying!


Anonymous said...

I want to offer some words of hope for you and Riley. And to say that the book "Raising Your Spirited Child" is very good.

My younger daughter was difficult in the ways that you describe Riley. We coslept, and nursed, and she nursed once or twice a night until 25 months. I weaned her completely because of some medical issues I was having at 31 months, but she still comes to our bed to sleep at least 4 times/wk and she'll be 6 on Saturday. She is a high-contact girl who is very, very attached to me.

She never liked being hugged. I learned from her that a good way to calm her down was to do a vigorous scalp massage and some gentle hair pulling. Seriously. Watch Riley's body when he's upset and see how he calms himself. You can do that for him, too.

My husband and I were stumped by the mystery of our daughter until we realized that her personality quirks are so much like her aunt's, my husband's sister. That realization helped us unlock a lot of the mystery.

The good news is that once Riley develops a better sense of himself, and gets through this stage of what I predict is typical separation anxiety (there is a peak at 18 months, so he is not far off the peak), you will have a wonderful, sweet, interesting and exciting son. Our daughter is a teacher's wet dream, a friend to all, sweet and articulate and brilliant.

I'm sorry that you're doing this alone, it was very hard for me to have a cling-on child for so many years, but I wasn't single-parenting either.

If it's not totally out of the realm of possibility, perhaps cosleeping with Ri-man during this rough spot would help you to be more rested.

Lisa said...

This was lovely, Snick. Very brave and loving. I could have written it myself in some ways about either of my kids at different times. Here are a couple of thoughts that come to mind. Take them or leave them,as it were. You know your situation and truths better than I can.

First, I have the exact same problem. One mom with two needy kids. There is not enough of me to go around. I will say that I think this does get better as they age and can find companionship with each other and with play on their own. Riley isn't there, yet. But just to tell you that with mine, they are just starting now to entertain themselves or find lots of comfort and happiness in each other. So it does get better.

Too also, I think that we don't consider the amount of grieving babies do, or catch on to. This isn't exactly the same, but my kids have gone months without being able to see their father, and there is loss there. Perhaps this is an attachment disorder situation like some babies/toddlers of adoption go through? I know that there are specific programs for kids who have lost a parent. Most are for older kids, but perhaps some counseling now and some activities with other loss moms/kids? It is easy to mistake the fact that he doesn't understand the loss of John with the fact that he probably definitely feels it.

Okay, final tidbit and then I'll shut up. As a former special ed teacher, I sort of cringe when every time there is a problem with a kid someone calls out "Early Intervention!" "Autism!" "Sensory Processing Disorder!"

I'm not saying that these aren't possible causes, nor is early intervention a bad idea, I'm just saying that if you want a diagnosis, you can probably get one. If you want IE services, you can probably build a case for them. And that's fine. But at this age, and with his history of loss...wanting things just so and not looking at you and being extra sensitive is not what I would consider out of bounds with what's normal for a kid his age. It is REALLY COMMON for toddlers to want things a certain way or be very sensitive and emotional and even be a little OCD. The same characteristics in a 10 year old kid who might be on the spectrum can be completely normal and healthy for a toddler. Do what feels right for you...but just sayin'. Not knowing Riley, of course, I am not hearing anything that shouts out autism or sensory processing disorder or anything.

With my tough kid, Aaron, I think it is a matter of our styles being a bit less compatible than my style is with Naim. I have to really think hard and meet him where he is at and stretch out of my comfort zone to have things work for me and him. And I still screw up and don't do it right sometimes. And I still lose my temper and I still wrack my brain to figure out how to handle situations. But I think I've come to realize that we are just very different people. Nothing is wrong with him, nothing is wrong with me. We are just probably always going to need to work extra hard to bridge those differences. Right now, it is mostly me stretching and bridging since I am The Adult and he is three. That gets very tiring sometimes.

In the end, the fact that you are aware of what is going on and are trying so hard to do something about it probably means that you will find your way and everything will be fine.

Always thinking good thoughts for you and the kiddos!

winecat said...

Oh Snick,
that was the most beautifully heartbreaking letter. I do hope you let Riley read it one day. He is very lucky to have you.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I have commented once or twice. Your letter is beautiful and sounds exactly like something I would of written to my son. He is now 4. He has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS which - depending on who you talk to - is also known as "high functioning autism". I am very, very hesitant to tell you this because I only know you from your blog. But you son sounds very much like mine was at that age - right down to the eczema. The good news, as we cut out all dairy (casein) and wheat/gluten products and soy - he improved. We started intense early intervention before he turned 2 and he is about to loose his diagnosis. Really. Like I said I don't know you and I thought about commenting all day but if your son does indeed qualify for early intervention now is the time. My son was literally a dairy and wheat junkie. As soon as I removed those things completely from his diet he started to snap out of it - and the eczema disappeared. Google GF/CF diets. Check out http://talkaboutcuringautism.org/index.htm
You are an incredible mom and if there is an issue with your son you have the ability to catch it early and it is possible to recover. Here are some links to some of my favorite blogs - the moms have children with ASD.

much love to you and your family.

BethGo said...

I can so relate to this letter. My eldest who is almost seven is very similar to your Riley.
One thing I found helpful was the books put out by the Gessel Institute by Louise Bates Ames. Have you heard of them? "Your One-Year-Old", "Your-Two-Year-Old" and so on.
I found them extremely helpful in figuring out both of my boys. My eldest especially goes through periods of discombobulation that just made him much more sensitive. For us it would happen usually in November and last until February it coincided with his half birthdays which is a tricky time.
I can tell you that it gets easier...and then it gets hard... and then it gets easy again.
Just know that you are not alone in this. I've been dealing with much of what you speak of for over six years.
Nobody tells you about this part.
It's hard.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

Snick - what a beautiful letter to Riley. My personal reaction was somewhat complicated though. Riley sounds a lot like N, or at least like N at 20 months, and I wouldn't say N has SID. I think that Lisa's sensitive response was spot on - if you want a diagnosis of some kind, you can probably get one (and I probably could have for N, too), and you probably have a better idea than anyone whether that's a good idea. What I want to add, though, is that even if Riley (and N) are not easy kids, even if they are quirky and often difficult to live with, that does not necessarily mean that they are best served by being labeled as having a "disorder". Sometimes that label is useful, sometimes not. I'm not judging anyone who seeks and receives help for their struggling child, but if a child like you describe Riley is basically happy and developing well intellectually, well then I fail to see what is to be gained by labeling him with a disorder just because he has quirks. Quirks are hard for parents to live with, but they are allowed on the spectrum of a diverse humanity if they do not significantly interfere with basic functioning. Yes, fabric sensitivity and the like are on the lists of possible SID symptoms, but the kids probably best served by that label and the services it comes with are the kids who are also having trouble being happy and functioning in the world because of those symptoms.
N is not an easy kid to raise sometimes, and he had most every quirk you describe at 20 months, but I chose not to pursue a label and I'm glad about that. He's quirky and often still fairly inflexible, but he's getting better and better, and as he becomes more and more of the wonderful, smart, creative little thinker he was made to be, I see some of those quirks start to work for him. I also see a fair number of them in myself to some degree, and I'm fairly certain that I function just fine as the somewhat quirky person I was born to be. I'm glad no-one tried to force me to be more "normal" in areas that don't interfere with functioning but are different from the average. N has outgrown the texture sensitivity and the dirty hands thing with some gentle encouragement, he's very verbal and getting better at dealing with frustration. I'm not sure how to end this - I'm sure some of the other points are good (and all well-intentioned). I just want to throw it out there that you may just have a quirky, wonderful, normal, happy kid who isn't easy to raise.You'll get no judgment from me whether you call EI tomorrow or roll your eyes and say "that's just Riley, and he's fine just being Riley, even if he drives me insane sometimes". There also may be a middle-ground: doing some OT-type therapies yourself at home. We've done a little of this - working on getting hands dirty, "hard hugging", pillow sandwiches, etc. to get some extra sensory input. It has helped, but not as much as acceptance of who he is and time. My sympathies - it really does get easier. 16-22 months about killed me too, and I'm not doing it solo! ((((hugs)))