kids · parenting · sensory processing disorder

Activity Time

The weather here has been less than bliss-inducing, to say the least, which really effects the mood of the whole family. Usually there are two or three days I can pick up my two boys from school so they can run around and play with friends on the school property before heading home (as opposed to just riding the bus straight home.) It was rainy and icky all week so they missed out on that play time, and by the weekend it really showed. I’ve noticed this before~ if they have that free play time, they are far more centered, even on the following days, so the centered-ness stays really lasts a long time. Both my boys just seemed all wound up yesterday morning, and even though we made it to the park for a bit before bedtime, it was brief, and today my older more sensitive son woke up again all ‘off’. Nothing could change his mood indoors, so I knew what I had to do~ take him down to the park in the cold, windy, morning air for a walk, or run, or whatever got him happier. It took some convincing but he is old enough now to realize that those ‘mood changer’ park outings really work. It took about 20 minutes before I started hearing his voice move from whiny to joyful, which happened while in the damp, cold sandbox. (I had to keep circling the sandbox just to stay warm while he made a castle and then a Roman town.) He was “too exhausted” to do much physical~ he had worn himself out by getting frustrated with a painting he messed up earlier. After about 20 minutes in the sandbox though, he wanted to run around the track~ where he got hit in the arm by a careless soccer ball. This would have caused a total meltdown less than an hour before, but he just smiled and waved and said, “good thing it didn’t hit my head.” Oh yes. And it’s a very good thing we live by a park. Very good indeed.

Food allergies · food sensitivities · sensory processing disorder

More on Sensory Processing Disorder

Someone asked for more info on this, so this post is for her. First of all, there has been quite a bit of research on the relationship between food sensitivities or allergies and SPD, so definitely get your child tested if diagnosed with SPD, or even if you just suspect it. And listen to your gut too. We had two food allergy testings come back negative, but then went to a third Doctor who found very specific sensitivities, and a true yeast allergy that really was the biggest factor. Once that was under control, he was a whole new kid. Sometimes a Naturopath is the best answer. Finding the best therapists for your child is crucial~ we found (after a couple of bad tries) an Occupational therapist who really did a fantastic job figuring out what my son’s triggers were~ what sensory activities he craved, and what calmed him down when over excited. We were then able to use that knowledge to conduct daily life. For example, we tried to do physical activity early in the day, and when my son showed signs of over-exuberance, we knew what activities calmed him, such as deep pressure. (Weighted blankets, heavy work, etc.) We avoided high-sensory activities that did not allow for him to move, such as movies which were generally too loud, too visually exciting, etc. But something like a bounce house place was great b/c he could convert his sensory intake into output easily. He also needed speech therapy and we found a therapist who was very in tune to occupational therapy. She worked only with SPD kids, and kids with autism/aspergers/etc. If your child needs any other therapies I highly recommend finding people who specialize in these kinds of kids b/c they understand the physical and environmental needs of these sensitive kids. My son also went to a school, starting in preschool, that provided OT and ST at school. When he couldn’t sit still, they took him for walks and provided other accommodations in the classroom. We were very lucky. If you end up with a school that does not recognize the special needs of your SPD kid, then find someone who can advocate for you, such as an OT. If the school wants to label your SPD child a behaviour problem, fight it. As a former teacher I can tell you that once your child is labeled that way, there is no return. This probably sounds like a heck of a lot to do, but if you hit it hard and consistently, it pays off quickly. Really quickly. My son is now in first grade and no longer needs any OT or ST, privately or at school. He is still high maintenance in many ways, but the majority of the time he is happy, calm, and excited about life. The entire school is impressed with his progress~ it’s awesome. I hope this helps. Good luck!

Food allergies · food sensitivities · sensory processing disorder

Food Allergies and Sensory Processing Disorder

That’s my son, running full throttle towards the freezing Lake Washington in the middle of March, in a button down shirt and clip-on tie. That pretty much sums him up quite well now at the ripe old age of “6 and three quarters.” Actually, the running full throttle part sums him up from the time he was in my tummy~ we’d see him moving all over the place, all the time, pushing with every extremity and turning around constantly. My younger son barely moved~ he was perfectly content to occasionally just snuggle in a little bit to the right or left. So different. My older son, the one running there, prompted my husband to ask if I’d had an affair with an ancient Roman senator. He just has always had this dramatic passion in everything he does, likes, doesn’t like, etc. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder when he was three which basically means something different for every kid diagnosed, but for him meant he didn’t walk, he stomped, he didn’t get close to people, he got on top of  them. Conversely, sound scared him to the point of wearing silencer ear muffs anywhere he was unlucky enough to have ever heard a fire alarm before. In fact, he pointed out far alarms to every stranger in every store we went to for years, usually in a warning tone, “there’s a fire alarm behind you,” to which people would predictably reply, “why yes, there is! I’ve never noticed that.” There is a lot more to SPD than that, it is an exhausting issue for every one involved, but with therapy and patience it can be overcome. And he has. Now that he is in first grade he is far more mellow, able to sit in a classroom with minimal reminders to stay seated and listen, and he has graduated from almost all his therapies. Plus, he is still as passionate as an ancient Roman senator, now obsessed with dressing up in ties everywhere he goes which is a lot easier to explain than the fire alarm thing. The therapies and books were extremely helpful, but I do not think he would be where he is today if we hadn’t explored food allergies. We had him tested twice starting at age 3, but both times he came back with a clean slate. We were not convinced so we took him to a Dr. who uses European methods of diagnoses, and he came back highly allergic to yeast, milk, wheat, corn, soy, tomatoes, eggs, and potatoes. I think I’m forgetting some, but those were the big ones. We took all that out of his diet for 3 weeks, no easy task as you might imagine, and then he went on a rotation diet eating allergen foods no more than once every 3 days. At the same time he took homeopathic types drops the Doctor made up specifically for him that helped his body get used to the allergen foods. Really, I should be calling these food sensitivities b/c they did not produce a true allergic reaction, but they did effect him greatly. The difference was immediate and dramatic. After a year he could eat the foods regularly without the majority of issues that plagued him before. It was not easy, but I am so grateful we did. He is so much happier now. The link between diet and so much of our children’s modern issues is more and more recognized in the mainstream, but we often still have to bang our heads against closed doors before finding an answer. I’ve never met a parent who wasn’t ready to try anything or fight any fight for the child though. They are so worth it.