Ed Tronick added this important comment:
“I think the thing left out of the account – which is great – is that the child is trying, struggling to make meanings, of which there are many – “What do I need to do? What are they thinking? What happened yesterday? What will they do to me?” – of himself in relation to others, and he is failing. This leads to anxiety and disruption – non-conformity. Yes, there may be sensory issues, but sensory can be empty of meaning. Meaning making is a regulatory process and sensory input can be meaningless and arousing, which further disrupts meaning making. The teacher and others, I think, need to see the struggle the child is burdened with.”
I think what I value most about Ed’s insight is the idea that sensory input can be “empty of meaning”, by which I think Ed means, “apprehensible meaning”. For example, sensory input that is over stimulating can “burden” the child with experience that he cannot act on effectively, that he cannot transform into something that makes sense to him, in Bion’s language, that he cannot metabolize. In this chaotic state, his perception of himself as an agent in the world is undermined.