All kids are sensational, but my kid is really sensational. He’s so sensational I might let you borrow him for a week. J Our five-year old son has a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a neurological disorder which makes it difficult for him to take in, process and respond to sensory information appropriately. One book calls these children “sensational,” another calls them “Out of Sync.” I do prefer the first, but sometimes it doesn’t feel so sensational.
This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been avoiding it but I know it is necessary. Our lives are so intense, that at the end of the day, when all is quiet I want to relish the silence and not think about SPD. Another reason this is so difficult, is because SPD covers such a wide spectrum. In fact, we all have sensory issues (maybe you don’t like crowds, maybe certain fabrics on your skin are irritating, maybe you gag when you brush your teeth). What makes this a disorder is the fact that it interferes with daily living. Our son is a sensory seeker and, through several blog posts, I will be writing mostly from that perspective.
What is a sensory seeker? A sensory seeker is someone who is continually seeking input. When our son was a toddler, I always felt the need to “hover” over him. He was impulsive and it was my duty to make sure he (and everyone around him) was safe. When I sensed a hug coming my way, I had to brace myself for the impact. Birthday parties were a nightmare. There was so much sensory input that he would be over-stimulated. I could see the adrenaline in his eyes and nothing I did could bring him down from this high. The first year of preschool he was often in trouble for crashing the cars and knocking down towers. He was frequently in other people’s space, poking them & crashing into them. He had such a difficult time dealing with disappointment and frustration that temper tantrums could last about an hour (Sound familiar? If not, read ‘Dealing with Disappointment‘). Transitions were difficult for him. He couldn’t sit still & he needed constant reminders to speak quietly.
As a parent, I felt so alone. I figured out many ways to meet his needs, which included isolating ourselves more than I would have liked. I knew I had a more challenging child than most All of these issues we were experiencing looked behavioral and at times I felt pretty inadequate as a parent. Now I know that these issues are not behavioral. He has a physical need for sensory input. There is no “cure” for SPD, but the key is to help him meet those needs regularly so that his body will be calm when it needs to be.
It’s estimated that 1:20 kids has a Sensory Processing Disorder of some kind. My philosophy has been: “Raising children is hard, but it shouldn’t be THIS hard.” If you think your child might have SPD or if you just want to learn more about it, I would recommend the following books: