Visit the SPD Foundation for some great resources.
Emma came into this world unregulated. From the time she was born, she fussed and cried, didn’t like loud noises, crowds, the car seat … and the list goes on and on. Now there were significant medical struggles, but I had never seen a baby so “rubbed the wrong way” by everything. I used to say that if she had it her way she would have stayed in the womb forever! As time went on and we got somewhat of a handle on the medical issues (at about 18 months) I started to put 2 and 2 together and realized there was something more there. Early Intervention started doing OT in our home for feeding therapy, this OT quickly realized we were going to get nowhere with food issues until the sensory stuff was dealt with. That was the first time I heard the term, being the mommy that I made a mental note and later hit Google. I was shocked at the amount of information there was on “Sensory issues”. A few weeks later we had an “official” diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder and started more intensive Occupational therapy. That all seems like a lifetime ago! We are currently on a hiatus from OT, have done swimming lessons (which works wonders for Em) and I have tools that help with some regulation. Here is Emma’s Sensory profile: Emma is a “sensory seeker” when it comes to vestibular & proprioceptive input. That girl N.E.V.E.R stops! She is like a piggy tailed version of the Tasmanian devil! She is also an oral sensory seeker, which totally explains how I ended up the human pacifier while nursing. Emma is a sensory avoider when it comes to touch (especially if she is not expecting it), sounds (the mall is torture), smells, and clothes (socks, tags, to tight, itchy, etc). I have tools to help - chewy’s, weighted blanket, we opt for a lot of cotton clothing, swing, ear plugs and A LOT of physical activity. Emma does dance class and swimming lessons and we have kind of adapted to this not so conventional norm. Even with these tools, some mornings are downright painful. All of her clothing feels “weird” or “itchy”, it sounds like a torture chamber in my bathroom when I am combing her hair and getting her in the buckle in the car seat feels more like a game of Twister. We have days she is much more easy going and days that everything and everyone bothers her. Days that she can sit nicely and color or watch a show and days that she is literally jumping off the stair landing onto the couch over and over! I have learned to adapt over the last few years, it still isn't easy but having some answers does help. I know what tools usually work for Emma and I can pull out my “Sensory Aresenal” and get her something to help. SPD is not our only issue, but it is one of the big ones. I have learned when other things are “off” the sensory issues seems to get worse (sick, hurt, anxious) and that I need to step up my game & plan for the worst. I encourage anyone with a child with sensory issues to do at least some OT so you know your child's sensory profile, what could help, triggers etc. Keep your child active and put together your own “Sensory Arsenal”. On the topic of special needs items, lets just say OUCH! I am always shocked at the cost of some of this stuff. There are a few things that I pay for because it is worth it, there are some thing that I tweak and find alternatives. Chewies are one thing I just pay for, I did try alternatives and they just were not the same for her! Fun & Function is a great website for special needs tools, they have pretty much anything you could think of and their prices are actually much more affordable then anywhere else I have looked. I also love that you earn points when you order than you can put towards future purchases. Now, if your curious, here is some of the things we keep in our arsenal..
|Chewy... we have it at ALL TIMES! She uses it when she is stressed, tired, or needing oral input.|
|Bubbles are great to facilitate deep breathing.|
|Weighted lap pad. With us always & great for car rides.|
|Play dough. I don't take this out & about with us but it is great for some sensory input at home|
|Moldable ear plugs, I half them and they fit perfect in her ears.|
|Stress balls - Emma calls these her "mad ball" great when angry or for some input out & about|
|I use this for both of us... it is a great calming oil by doTERRA. I keep it in a roller bottle and Em will put it on herself in the car or somewhere she is feeling anxious or out of sorts.|
I hope that provides a little insight and help to some of you. SPD continues to be a roller coaster and something we have to plan for and work around daily!
Hi - It's Jen. My story is a bit similar, but Hudson did not come into the world un-regulated. Hudson was sweet and calm and loved to be swaddled. In hindsight, that was the only way he slept without me. He did not nurse too long, but when he turned about 18 months we started having loads of problems with clothing. Hudson would scream for 5 minutes per item of clothing. Each sock was a chore and when it was winter - forget about it! He also was hugely sensitive to food textures and hot and cold. He would not eat without gagging and would often throw up because he overstuffed his mouth and could not move the food back. This was a huge source of anxiety for me because my other son was a great eater and Hudson wasn't not growing. We started getting OT in house and then through a clinic. I learned about Hudson's sensory profile too.
Hudson is also a sensory seeker and loved proprioceptive input, the more physical the better - tickling, flipping, swinging and wrestling are his favorites. I discovered that I never had screaming fits about clothing when it was bedtime. This baffled me for a while, until I remembered our routine. He always had a bath, or a shower at night. He was getting loads of input on his skin! So, we do lots of physical stuff and lots of skin compressions to get him calm and regulated. I also know that everyday - even today, when I put his shoes on he is going to scream that they are too tight! But I am trying to let him scream about it for ten minutes. If he can wear it that long usually, it subsides. So, we get dressed early. Sometimes we even shower in the morning when it's going to be a cold day. I will often just pick him up and carry him to the car so his feet don't have to be so squished in his shoes. By the time the drive is over he is ready to go. When he's anxious we use a quiet corner and he uses a weighted lap pad. We use gum in the car and he is all about distraction of iPhones and iPads. It seems a bit weird at first and believe me I have gotten my share of looks and criticism about walking into a store, putting my 4 year old kid in his stroller and handing him headphones and my iPad - but it is what he needs and what we need to do to get through the day and get things done. I too have my arsenal. Even though I have all of these tools, somedays it just doesn't work. Now I also know that Hudson cannot decipher the sensory input that is coming into his little body and it's o.k. to leave the store or errand to another day.
I know Hudson will always have sensory issues. Luckily, in many areas they are improving. His food preferences are still narrow, but improving. OT helped us a lot, as did, swimming and horseback riding. We want to know what works for you?