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Thursday, July 17, 2014

What exactly is an HSC?

Before I tell a little about our story let me address what you probably really want to know. What the heck is an "HSC"??? HSC stands for Highly Sensitive Child. There are also HSP's (Highly Sensitive People).  Ok so you know what it stands for but you're probably still wondering what the heck that means? Are they just super emotional? Are they shy? Well, that's part of it for some people. The definition of HSC is: A highly sensitive child is one of the fifteen to twenty percent of children born with a nervous system that is highly aware and quick to react to everything. This makes them quick to grasp subtle changes, prefer to reflect deeply before acting, and generally behave conscientiously. They are also easily overwhelmed by high levels of stimulation, sudden changes, and the emotional distress of others. Because children are a blend of a number of temperament traits, some HSCs are fairly difficult–active, emotionally intense, demanding, and persistent–while others are calm, turned inward, and almost too easy to raise except when they are expected to join a group of children they do not know. But outspoken and fussy or reserved and obedient, all HSCs are sensitive to their emotional and physical environment.

These children are often made fun of and called names. If you have 5 children jumping off of a play structure and one of them in an HSC, that one child will stand there and watch the other children. They will think about what the risks are and what all possible outcomes could be before deciding if they will follow the other kids and jump. Majority of the time they will NOT jump and will then have to deal with the wrath of the other kids that will make fun of them for being "scared", "chicken" a "baby". These are all things that my son was called at the ripe old age of 5 when he didn't want to take the risks that others were taking.

Does your child have any of the HSC traits? Check out the self test area and see if you or your child fit the mold. What are the common traits exhibited by highly sensitive children and adults? Here you go: They startle easily, they have issues with clothing/tags being too rough, they dislike crowds or large noises, they ask deep profound questions, they seem to know what you're thinking, they have empathy/sympathy for others (even those they don't know). This is just the tip of the ice berg in the world of the HSC.

You can't rush these children, you can't tell these children to toughen up you can tell these children that they have to do certain things. This will not help them and will only harm them and their well being.

Luckily there is so much information coming out now. There are support groups, online groups, books, therapists specializing in working with these people. It's making us feel a little more validated but there is still a lot of resistance. I still hear a lot of  "oh kids are resilient". True, they are.....but some will take longer to process those thoughts and they will think about them weeks from now. I have many many examples of this but will address them in future posts. The most recent incidents are VERY recent and still ongoing issues. Once they are all settled I will give a little detail about them, what happened, what didn't happen and what should have. For now I'm going to tell you a little about how I finally figured out that my son was an HSC. It was life changing and once I figured it out we've never looked back.

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For the longest time I was told that my son was too sensitive, too emotional, not willing to take risks. I talked to people in the child care profession and his doctor. They all told me that he was a great child and that he was going to grow up to be a great man.

That was all fine and dandy but I still didn't know why he was so unlike some of the other kids. This really came into the spotlight when he was in kindergarten. My son was bullied, relentlessly. I went to the teacher and to the principal on several occasions. I was always told "boys will be boys". I wasn't buying it. I have a boy and he didn't torment others in order to make himself feel better. He didn't cheat off of other kids (and what the heck are you copying in kindergarten anyway?). It got to the point that he just didn't want to go to school. I nearly had a school drop out in the first 2 months of kindergarten. I talked to the teacher so many times I know she cringed when I showed up. I finally started looking up anything and everything I could find about why my child is so....well....different? I stumbled upon the book that would change my life. I found the website for Elaine N Aron, PhD and the book "The highly sensitive child". I read through the information and looked at the "test" on the website. That test was like a checklist and all that was missing was a picture of my son. It hit me like a ton of bricks. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MY SON! THERE ARE OTHERS LIKE HIM! I immediately ordered the book and as soon as it arrived I read it cover to cover.

I learned so much. I talked to the school again and explained that my son is an HSC (I also found out that I'm an HSP). It's all so obvious after reading the book but I never would've realized any of this if I hadn't stumbled upon that website. At that time (about 5 years ago) I had never heard of HSC. Kids were just shy, quiet, cautious, reserved. There was a laundry list of not so fun sounding adjectives that went along with his description.

After figuring out that the little dude is an HSC and talking to the school it started to help but they weren't as accommodating as I would've imagined. It really seemed as though they thought it was just a fad or made up thing. It's not a diagnosis. There's no magic pill that will make your kid oblivious to everything.  I did however find out about Rescue Remedy which has been a lifesaver for both of us. It's helps relieve some of the anxiety with all natural ingredients.

So now, this many years later and it's still a struggle out in the world. We've found ways to work through things at home. I often say that living with my HSC is more like having a 45 year old roommate vs a 9 year old child. He's very profound and asks deep, thought provoking, questions that I'm usually not prepared for. Sure he still plays normal kid games and pushes his limits like any child does but he is so easy to reason with and talk to. If plans change I just need to talk to him and explain why and give him enough advance warning in order to fend off the sadness that could occur. Any issues he is having, or thoughts that are "stuck on repeat" (as we call it) will usually manifest in night terrors. Normally, he will end up with me in bed at around midnight. That's my queue that a little talk is in order. We talk about what's bothering him, why it's bothering him and what we can do to fix it. If it's something beyond our control we have ways to work through that as well.

This post was mainly to give some direction of where you can go to find out more and where I've come from to get where I am today.

We continue to have struggles, albeit about 95% of them are outside of our family. Dealing with the world outside is a constant struggle. I am going to try to address HSC issues at least 2 to 4 times a month. This will include some other great blogs I've found that are HSC focused, people to talk to, tips, experiences and so on.

Next week I'll be sharing our most recent struggle. It's still somewhat ongoing on the part of the others involved but we're doing out best to not let it take over the thoughts of my kiddo.
Remember, if you think you have an HSC check out the self test link above. Having an HSC is NOT a bad thing. These children are simply amazing. Being an HSP myself and not knowing it until I was in my 30's helps me relate to my son in a way I never knew was possible. I understand how he feels, especially when people treat him like a "dumb kid".  I truly wish some people did respect children more and I wish some children were more like HSC's. Everyone can learn a little something from our kids.
If you have questions or comments please don't hesitate to message me or comment below. This has all been a trial and error process for us but we've learned a lot.

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