for when you wonder if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder

For when you wonder if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder…

There is sometimes, nothing more complicated than a fresh diagnosis. We are in the middle of walking a new journey but one thing is for sure, I’ve got this Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) stuff down!! If you are new to Sensory Processing Disorder or wondering how to get your child diagnosed, I thought I’d share a little bit to help you through. October is Sensory Processing Disorder awareness month, please share this post and spread awareness!

Have you ever wondered why your child refuses to wear pants (tactile)? Doesn’t notice that their face or hands are dirty (tactile)? Refuses to eat crunchy foods (taste)? Prefers to dump all the toys on the floor (sight)? Loves loud noises or hates loud noises (auditory)? Gag’s at the smell of certain foods (olfactory)? These are just a few examples of everyday occurrences that are actually sensory related.  There are so many more sensory related everyday experiences,

From as far back to as when our daughter was born, we knew we had a lot of challenges with her and we were at a loss of where to go and what to do in order to get help!  Every time we were at the doctor’s office for a sniffle, I would mention the challenges and they would tell me this was normal.  I am not a doctor, a psychologist or anyone who can offer medical advice.  This is just mom to mom.  So, if you at all wonder here’s what you can do…

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

We actually have eight senses: touch (tactile), taste (gustatory), sight (visual), sound (auditory), smell (olfactory) and there’s three more vestibular (balance, coordination, spatial orientation), proprioception (sense of muscle and joints) and interoception (internal regulation for thirst, hunger, etc.) . Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) occurs when the brain receives mixed messages. Basically it’s the way the brain processes the senses.

A checklist of signs and symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder.

I think my child might have Sensory Processing Disorder.  How can I get my child diagnosed?

Maybe you’ve just heard of this thing called Sensory Processing Disorder and you are wondering how to get to get your child diagnosed. Well, here’s the bad news first. Sensory Processing Disorder is not a standalone diagnostic condition. The American Medical Association does not recognize it in their diagnostic manuals (what doctors use to diagnose). In the DSM-V (what psychologists use as the diagnostic manual), it is listed as a symptom.   What that means it is a characteristic of another disorder (such as Autism).

What that all really means for you is that you will find some medical professionals who discount SPD as a disorder. The thing is that, Sensory Processing Disorder can be a standalone disorder by itself. It is recognized by a lot of medical professionals and teachers as a disorder. We just aren’t there yet in the diagnostic manuals (confusing I know).

for when you wonder if your child has Sensory Processing Disorder




Should I get my child evaluated?

My take on this as a mom is that if you have concerns about your child then, YES!  It never hurts to have an evaluation done.  One of the things I always ask is how much is this effect you and your child’s daily living?  This is usually the definition of disorder.  When it makes daily living a challenge then you know!

Where can I go to get my child evaluated?

There are a few places and people that you can seek out for help. If your child is 5 and under, you may qualify through an Early Education center in your area for evaluation. Usually, they are called Early Intervention.

You can also, look for a psychologist in your area that is knowledgeable and has experience with Sensory Processing Disorder. You will also want to look for an Occupational Therapist that has pediatric experience and is familiar with Sensory Processing Disorder.

My child got diagnosed with SPD now what?

I know the feeling, you want to do everything possible to help your child and you are anxious to do so. The first thing I would recommended is starting with a few great resources to grown your knowledge of SPD.

Want to know more about Sensory Processing Disorder as a whole, The Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz, is the best book to read.  This will help you understand all the senses and how they affect our neurological system.

Wondering what kind of fun, creative, and easy activities you can do at home, Sensory Processing 101 is a must have!  This book is loaded with activities for you and your child to have fun together, while experiencing some at home therapy!

Sensory Processing Cover Clean

What toys and tools would be helpful to have in my home?

Coming soon …my toy guide… will be here just in time for Christmas shopping!  Join my mailing list to find out more.

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Coming Soon- A Parent's Guide Sensory Toys for Home. Until then, check out some of my favorites here.

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Our Change in Diagnosis:  to SPD, ASD & ADHD.

Our Change in Diagnosis: to SPD, ASD & ADHD.

I can’t start this story without looking back first. We’ve always had questions. We’ve always wondered about behaviors and we’ve always been challenged as this is our first child, our only child and we don’t know any different.

Our daughter was first diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at 3 years of age and that diagnosis stayed them same until now.

About 6 months ago, after we had fought through OT not working and years of therapy and trying absolutely everything except medication we decided it was time to try medication.

We were referred from our child psychologist to a child psychiatrist who could prescribe medication and also look further into Miss Sensory’s symptoms.   For those newbies this is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

So, of course we waited the usual 3 months to get into this child psychiatrist hoping for a prescription to move forward with and after two hours we left with the suggestion that we should have more testing done. This was not what we wanted. We were tired, tired of waiting, tired of trying, tired of hoping for something different.

We were lucky to have only 3 months to wait to get in for testing, with a highly recommended psychologist who would be doing psychological testing for all kinds of things but mainly Autism Spectrum disorder.

In the waiting, I spent a lot of time reading about Autism in girls in preparation for the upcoming testing. I knew, Autism in girls is extremely hard to diagnose. The testing came and we filled out multiple evaluations one set by me and one by sensory dad along with the psychologist’s evaluations. After multiple appointments, we met with her for a feedback appointment.

I have never been so nervous out of all the things we have done. As I was for this appointment. I didn’t know if I wanted a different diagnosis, or if I wanted there to be nothing. I didn’t know if I wanted her to say wow she’s complicated and I have no idea what to do, like I’ve seen so many other’s do that have tried to help our family.

Here’s what I knew…

the diagnosis may change but the challenges will still be the same.
What I did see was someone who had thoroughly looked through our files, really dug in to her observations and didn’t take the inconsistences as bad parenting. We were able to collaborate with her and left with feeling confident in her diagnosis.

I’ve tried to find the words to write this post and I’ve struggled, this diagnosis hasn’t sunk in yet. I haven’t had a lot of time to process it and I’m sure that’s what I need, more time. But, I’m just going to put this out there…

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were added to our list of diagnosis for Miss Sensory.

Our change in diagnosis:  to SPD, ASD & ADHD

 

I feel like I’ve jumped into a whole new world. A world where there isn’t a lot of information on girls with these disorders and girls with these disorders are completely different than boys!!

This was nothing we were surprised by, this was everything we’ve seen since she was born. It’s the questions we’d always ask. In a way we’ve always known, there may be more disorders. Too often we got told she was too young for a lot of diagnosis. I get it.

ADHD was always a part of the conversation and it’s an easier one to see and get it.

Autism in girls looks much different than what you see as Autism in boys.

The words from our child psychologist that resonates with me as we were talking with her, “I am thinking this is more than just anxiety,” as I was sharing our experience with Miss Sensory having a lot of anxiety. She explained how her thought patterns get really stuck and she can’t get out of them. This was Autism.

I watched Miss Sensory last week having a conversation with Grandma and not asking Grandma any questions about what she was talking about and wanting to control the conversation with what she wanted to say. I saw Autism.

I have so much to learn. I have so much to see between SPD, ASD and ADHD. This is more than the typical symptoms of Autism we always hear about with developmental delays, lack of social play and imaginative play. This is a different cognitive process.

Although, it hasn’t sunk in yet I know that the more research and awareness I have the more I will be able to pin point the areas that are effected by which diagnosis. It has brought me more compassion and grace for our beautiful girl, the world is a tough and challenging place, and it’s my job to help her through it, as I learn to see each individual diagnosis.

PS:  Dear readers:  Please be patient with me as the dust settles and I process all this new change in our journey!!

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The mysteries of sensory processing disorder.

The Mysteries of SPD

One of the most challenging and sometimes comical parts of parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder is that it can be so mysterious.   And when I say that here is what I mean. On any particular day, one thing may bother her and the next day it doesn’t. It is always down to the finest details.  A couple of weeks ago I had posted this photo on my facebook page.

The mysteries of Sensory Processing Disorder.

And I subtitled it, “The mystery of SPD…dresses and skirts not OK but pirate dress costume TOTALLY OK!!”

There is so much of our life that we have to live in such extreme precision that trying to figure out all of the mysteries of SPD is exhausting. It challenges us in parenting. It pushes us to frustration and sometimes even makes us laugh just a little. When others don’t understand the mystery of it, it reminds me how well I know my child.

The mysteries of sensory processing disorder.

The other day Miss Sensory was spending time with her grandma. And normally at grandma’s house she loves to do anything and everything her grandma is doing. Grandma asked her if she wanted to help wash tomatoes and Miss Sensory refused. No matter what grandma did she couldn’t get her to wash the tomatoes with her. I simply asked Miss Sensory why and she very clearly told me she didn’t want to get her hands wet. Now this is my child that LOVES swimming. And for some reason today was a day she did absolutely not want to get wet! But, if I would have said swimming she would have said yes. To this day if she gets a drop of water on her clothes they immediate must be taken off, because that is completely not ok.

The way our kids process the daily sensory battles changes daily. What they are able to tolerate one day may be completely intolerable the next.

Food is another mystery in our house. Texture of course is a huge mystery. Cooked carrots can easily be too soft or too hard. Strawberries if too ripe are also too soft.

Clothing really is something that challenges us at our house. This year we bought several Nike t-shirts and they all appear the same. However, this mystery resolves around the sleeves as something about some of them feels differently to Miss Sensory. And, oh for the love of shoes, this is one mystery I may not ever solve. They need to be tight, they need to feel just right.

I’m sure you can think of a few mysteries in your house, I’d love for you to share them in the comments!

To be totally honest, I think Sensory Processing Disorder alone is a mystery for most professionals, teachers and parents.  It’s a disorder that doesn’t always make sense.  It’s confusing, its not a one size fits all diagnosis.  Every single child has a completely different set of sensory challenges and symptoms.  It makes it hard to diagnose, it makes it hard to treat and it makes it hard to parent.

Now in all seriousness, although these seem like small issues, as a parent I know how they can annoy and frustrate you very quickly.

So how do you deal with these?

  1. Anticipate.  As soon as you see a pattern or any type of correlation start to anticipate this and solve as many mysteries as you can.
  2. Embrace the constant change.   I am a super type A person. I dislike change and chaos. I love structure and organization and sameness. So, for me this is very frustrating when one day one thing is not ok and the next day it isn’t. It also makes suggestion #1 really challenging!
  3. Recognize your child is having a hard time and not GIVING you a hard time. I know that it often seems like your child is being disobedient or just trying to be defiant. But as a parent sometimes it is really hard for us to see and for them tell us what is REALLY bothering them.
  4. Let go and laugh. Laugh at how one brand of strawberries is ok but another one isn’t. Laugh at how one day taking a bath is such a challenge because your child doesn’t want to get wet when 2 hours ago she was swimming in the lake.The mysteries of sensory processing disorder.

Not all the mysteries may make sense to us. But to our kids they know. It makes sense to them. They are doing their best to cope with the sensory challenges around them. They know what bothers them and often they are so smart about finding ways to cope with them.

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sensory blog hop

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!

Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!


 

Back to School and Sensory Processing Disorder

The first day of school and a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.

It started this morning with the bouncing, she bounced from thing to thing. Thrashing her body on anything near, trying to hold her anxiety in. It took us quite a while but we got her through her visual map of everything she needed to do and have this morning. We got her safely in her car seat and could breathe a sigh of relief. Here we go. On the way we played the rhyming game the entire time. It focused, it calmed, it connected.

I pulled into the school overwhelmed by just finding a parking spot, thankfully Sensory Dad was along today and I didn’t have to think about it. We walked hand in hand down the corridor with Miss Sensory safely in between us. Since it’s hard to keep her near us in parking lots, as we tell her she needs to keep us safe. She does better when she’s in control and so we give her a job and she takes it seriously. Once we enter the doors you can feel the chaos surrounding the building. Her classroom is right around the corner and we quickly move that direction.

Only inside the classroom the chaos is more common, more present. There’s so many kids and parents, it’s hard to get around to even get to her cubby. She clings closer to us and I can tell she’s shut it all off. I can tell she’s overwhelmed by a room full of people, withdrawing inside herself. I can tell she’d rather run and find someplace to hide. I can tell she’s attempting to be ok with the noise level in the room, when inside her head it feels like someone turned the volume on high.

We are greeted by one of her friends’ older sisters who was excited to be her helper today. She asks Miss Sensory a million questions and Miss Sensory answers none of them. She tried so hard to help her, to get her to her desk and get her some play dough. But Miss Sensory couldn’t respond, couldn’t focus couldn’t find her way through.

I got down low and asked her quietly if she wanted pink or purple dough, she said pink. I was so glad to see her engage, answer a question and be excited. I could tell this was tough for her when no one else could.

I could tell that this isn’t just her being shy or scared or first day jitters. This is more. I could tell her nervous system was screaming for help and I can tell that most of the ‘typical’ world won’t be able to see that her nervous system challenges her to function.

It’s the first day of Kindergarten and my daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder. Sometimes for her it might feel like the world is going to crash in on her and it’s my job to see it happening and help her navigate through it. It’s like I’m her lighthouse. When the storm starts, I help her find the way home.

Back to school for sensory parents.  Parenting a child with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Back to School for Sensory Parents Day 4

Today is Day 4, of our back to school series for sensory parents.  In case you missed the previous posts, you can read day 1, day 2, and day 3.

Although today isn’t exactly for parents, a big part of being a sensory parent is advocating for our kids and bringing awareness for Sensory Processing Disorder.  Today is about teachers.  As parents we know that along with Sensory Processing Disorder can come some challenging behaviors.

TIPS FOR TEACHERS

As a special needs mom, I am so incredibly grateful for teachers who are always willing to learn and grow. First of all, I want you to know that I am not an Occupational Therapist, I am just a mom who happens to know a lot about Sensory Processing Disorder.

One study says that 1 in 20 kids have Sensory Processing Disorder (http://spdfoundation.net/files/9614/2430/1228/ahn_miller.pdf) that’s at least 1 child in every classroom. Another study says that as many as 1 in 6 kids have Sensory Processing Disorder. But, if you are like most teachers that I have talked with almost all of them are not familiar with Sensory Process Disorder. Here’s the important things for you to know.

First, let me tell you it’s real. I know because I live with it every single day. I know that it hasn’t made it into the medical diagnostics (yet!), but the everyday challenges that our daughter faces because she doesn’t process sounds, touch, movement, body regulation, muscle activity typically are constantly there. Even with extensive therapy.

Second, similar to Autism, every child that has Sensory Processing Disorder is completely unique. The saying for Autism could also apply to Sensory Processing Disorder, if you have met one child with Sensory Processing Disorder you have met one child.

Third, embrace the uniqueness a child with Sensory Processing Disorder brings to the classroom and add in classroom wide activities that will benefit every child.

Fourth, learn everything you can about Sensory Processing Disorder. Here are some great resources:
What every parent needs to know about Sensory Processing Disorder.
Kissing the Wiggles Good-bye. Help for sitting still.
What is a Sensory Diet.
Is it behavior or is it Sensory?
10 Calming Sensory Strategies for in the Classroom
Working with a Child that has Sensory Processing Disorder
How Sensory Processing affects kids in School

Parents if you are looking for printable handouts to share with your school please check out Angie Voss’s (Occupational Therapist) website for a lot of great options!

Make it a great year!

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