My pen slowly check the boxes of a form, “can tie shoes” “covers ears if loud sounds” “refuses to wear socks” “overfills mouth when eating” the list was very long but the picture it was painting was painfully obvious. My son had sensory processing disorder.
Of course my first thoughts were how did I cause this? Was it because his dad was deployed his first year of life? Was I over protective and didn’t let him play with his food enough? Did I use the swing too much? Again the list was endless, I felt guilty. I felt afraid, I felt angry, and most of all I was confused. I felt guilty remembering all the times my patience was lost. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be a good enough mother to deal with it, and if people would even understand. I didn’t understand my self. I was angry at all the people who told me “he just needs a good hard spanking” or “have you tried a behavior chart?” All those people who gave me the “control your kid” look. Or worse the sympathy “lets help your ‘special child’ look. Didn’t they understand? I had to be 10X the mother they were, 10X more patient, 10X more understanding, 10X more ready to pull every hair from my head. I was confused, how on earth could I help this child? I had read so many parenting books, mountains of articles, but Sensory Processing Disorder seemed to be on the bottom of most lists.
It was a difficult time, but armed with an amazon account and the internet I knew that I could do it! I knew that I could prove everyone wrong. I knew that my little orchid, this exotic child could grow into something beautiful. All I had to do was give him the right environment and the right nutrients. It is still difficult, but we are healing, every step of the way we are healing together.
So what is Sensory Processing Disorder, first off SPD is not Autism. Yes many autistic children can have SPD, many children on the spectrum can have sensory issues, but you can also have Sensory Disorders without having autism, which is our case.
SPD can be caused from many things, a traumatic birth, autism, prematurity, low stimulation, chromosomal disorders, environmental toxins, being blind or deaf, and in our case seizures. We did not know that our son was having seizures until he was 5 yrs old. I had told his previous pediatrician that he occasionally rolled his eyes strangely, she said it was likely allergies. A few years later I took him to an eye doctor, I knew something was off, again they said it was probably allergies. When we moved and got a new pediatrician I mentioned it to her, and she suggested getting an EEG, sure enough he was having seizures. I highly recommend getting an EEG if your child has been diagnosed with SPD, it is a simple test that can change their life. Since my son has been seizure free for the last 6 months I have noticed that many of his sensory issues have decreased. We are hoping to have him off seizure medication once he is 2 yrs seizure free, but I am just happy to see his brain healing for now.
OK, back to SPD. There are many types of sensory issues. Most children with sensory issues will experience all of them at different times. One day they could be sensory defensive about sounds, the next day sensory seeking. So if someone says “well they were fine yesterday” well that was yesterday. Below I have linked some amazing youtube videos that I think every teacher, caregiver, and parent should watch.
The good news is that Sensory Processing Disorder can be 100% cured through therapy, diet change, and a vigilant parent. There is hope! I plan to write more posts about the this topic and give you ideas for diet change, sensory activities, and therapy videos. So stay tuned, and remember that you are not the only one out there 🙂