SPD: Making Progress

Medium Banana has always been so much more different than his older brother. They both are creative and fun-loving, energetic and friendly. Both of them want to do well in school and enjoy being around people. Yet there has always been something different about the way Medium Banana interacted with the environment around him; it’s taken me the entirety of his six years to figure out why.

His Daddy and I have always wondered why when we walk through a store of any kind Medium Banana can’t stop touching every. single. thing. his body passes. Put your hands in your pockets, buddy. Put your hands on your tummy. Stop touching–you almost knocked that end-cap over! We’ve wondered why he puts all the things in his mouth like shirt sleeves, stuffed animals, pieces of metal found on the ground, etc. Not pica, nope. And then there’s the way he seems to push his body faster, harder, and farther than his older brother and accidentally hurts his friends and family as if he has no idea just how fast, hard, and far he is moving. What about his constant need to talk as if standing in a sawmill? Or how about the 50x/day question, “Can I watch something? Can I eat something?”

Remember that post from a while back about how I’ve been learning to address MB’s love language (touch) and how sanctifying that process has been for me? Yup. Still is. Except that in the last 6-8 weeks I’ve had new reasons to be thankful. I’ll give you the short version.

For MB’s 6-year check up I asked her for help knowing how to help my son work through his inattentiveness, fidgetiness, and lack of understanding of personal space/boundaries. We’re getting ready to start first grade in the fall, I told her, and I think that learning some techniques for coping will help both of us. I told her that medication was not an option; I will be researching essential oils to help him naturally, but I’d also like to learn some behavioral strategies. She sent us to a counselor, and we sat through a 2-1/2 hour questionnaire session. Phew! He was all over the room before the end of it. I realized three weeks later when they finally called me back (after I’d reminded them we’d been there and were waiting to be assigned to someone), that counseling wasn’t what we needed. Nope.

Thank you, Jesus, for friends who have kids like mine. My friend from church came to mind one day because her son is on the Autism Spectrum. I don’t know why I thought of her, but I contacted her and asked her about how she helps her high-functioning son work through his day. I told her about all the things I was dealing with in Medium Banana, and that while I didn’t believe he had Autism, we needed help to figure this out before I go crazy. She gave me a book called “The Out-of-Sync Child” by Carol Kranowitz. Apparently Autism, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder look so much alike that sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate between the three; additionally, many children can have dual or triple diagnoses within the three. I read the first chapter the day before our counseling appointment and could check off nearly every bullet point in the “sensory seeking” category. It was like reading a book about my son. I cried from relief, being overwhelmed with new understanding, and anxiety over what the future would bring. Sigh.

One week later I was cancelling the counseling appointment and requesting occupational therapy from the pediatrician. Best. Decision. Ever.

I’m so, so thankful that I took three different classes in college on child growth and development, classes on psychology and abnormal psychology. Even though we didn’t learn about Sensory Processing Disorder in my classroom ten years ago, I have other skills and knowledge tucked in my belt that have proven useful since learning about SPD. (See mom? That education is paying off!) Additionally, I’ve had some experience working with children and adults who have Autism, so even though that’s not what we’re dealing with, I still have some ideas for how to work with MB.

I’m so thankful for Pinterest. Oh. My. Word. I have spent at least an hour or two searching for ideas for at-home therapy methods and ways to helps us through the day. Today I picked up a bunch of tools at the Dollar Tree based on some pins, and here’s what I ended up with!

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Before

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After! Ready for stimulation!

I’m looking forward to trying these things out in the near future. For now we’re implementing the Wilbarger brushing technique with joint compressions every two hours. That’s right…it’s like nursing a newborn baby. Haha! Every. Two. Hours. It seems to be helping him to be calmer. The OT says it helps to “reset” his system to help avoid sensory overload. I intend to ask more questions since I want to know how it affects his brain chemically.

Does your kiddo have sensory needs? Or maybe YOU do? What are your favorite ways of managing and teaching? I’d love to get your input. Comment below. In fact, if you got your fave idea from a blog (or have written in your own), please link below. I’d LOVE to read all about it!

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2 comments

  1. Homeschooling2e · July 19, 2016

    SPD is such a difficult, confusing diagnosis because each kid is so different. If your kid likes the deep pressure, we use something a therapist called a “squeeze” for our kiddo when he starts to overload. You sit crosslegged, kid sits in your lap and puts their knees up to their chest and holds them with their arms. You give them a big bear hug as tight as they can stand for as long as they can stand (not tight enough to restrict breathing.) Other things that work for us are a mini trampoline, exercise balls to bounce or roll on, a crash mat (fill a twin duvet cover with lots of pillows) that they can flop onto, and large sensory bins filled with dried rice, kidney beans,or lentils (one type per, we add little toys and trinkets in so the kids can search for them.) We’ve also had good luck with chewy necklaces designed for ASD kids. Good luck! It sounds like you have a good start 🙂

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  2. occupationaltherapybelowzero · July 21, 2016

    Glad you found an OT. Sounds like your MB likes deep pressure and heavy work. As well as oral stimulation. He may like some activities like gardening (digging in the dirt, moving it around, stacking stones to make a border on the garden). Finding objects in theraputty, doing wall or floor push ups, animal walks, donkey kicks (make a game of it with cards to illustrate activities or spinner or dice). Drinking out of a sports bottle, eating carrots, raisins, celery (crunchy, chewy stuff) all help. There are tons of books- Your Sensory Child Has Fun has lots of activities too. Hopefully your therapist can give you some resources and Google is wonderful. Be sure to talk to his teacher before school starts to give her a heads up. Not all teachers understand about SPD and think the kiddo is just misbehaving. If you can request a teacher who will give boundaries but is not rigid in her thinking that can make a lot of difference. Good luck.

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