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One Family's Sensory Processing Disorder Journey
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One Family\'s Sensory Processing Disorder Journey

Our first son was born in December of 2008. We are a military family and at the time we were stationed in California. We were thousands of miles away from our families and we had no idea how hard it would be to become parents without the hands-on support of those who meant the most to us. From the moment our son was born I knew that he was different – my first instance of mother’s intuition. He was always crying, he was colicky, he barely slept, he craved movement, and honestly he rarely seemed to be happy. At that point in time I thought that I, as a mother, was doing something wrong to cause his distress. I certainly never thought that in two short years I would discover the answer to my son’s puzzling and distressing behavior – sensory processing disorder.

As my son got older I began to notice some things. He loved any sort of movement and made sure that he got it! I invested in a baby sling so that I could carry him around with me; laying him down was sure to cause a meltdown. He enjoyed his infant swing but only when it was turned up to the highest and fastest setting. When he started to sit up and crawl he seemed to enjoy falling over and would do it on purpose, laughing joyously. When he started to walk he would bounce and crash into furniture, the dog, whatever, and laugh over and over. When he learned to climb he immediately learned to jump – and jump he did! At eleven months old he was jumping off the back of the couch and the dining room chairs. Things that would hurt or scare other kids his age didn’t seem to faze him at all. His activity level was through the roof and I had tons of trouble keeping up with him. Within his first year of life he was displaying many of the hallmark behaviors of Sensory Processing Disorder, but at the time I had never heard of it.

His behavior had a dark side, though. When he became upset, tired, or hungry, he would hit his head over and over against the floor or the wall. He was aggressive toward his father and me – slapping, biting, and hitting any time he became frustrated. He resisted any change in routine and tantrums were common. He was either late, or nearly late, on all of his milestones – sitting unassisted, crawling, speaking. Whenever I voiced concern about these issues to my pediatrician or family members I was told that I was worrying over nothing, that every child develops differently, that perhaps his behavior was because I wasn’t strict enough or because I was spoiling him. But I knew better. My mother’s intuition told me that something else was wrong.

When our son had just turned two the military moved us to Ohio. I was still worried about his behavior and I found out about Early Intervention services while doing a search online. I called my county’s office to schedule my son for an evaluation. When we went in for his initial testing it was a disaster. He did not want to cooperate with any of the test activities so most of the recommendations were made from the questionnaires that I filled out which asked me for my own observations. I had heard about Sensory Processing Disorder on a cable TV show and after doing some research I was fairly certain that my son could have this issue. After reviewing his evaluation and the questionnaires the Early Intervention staff confirmed my suspicion – he does indeed have SPD. Additionally he also has mild speech and fine motor skill delays as well as poor oral motor tone, however this is not related to the SPD.

The Early Intervention evaluation was a catalyst in getting my son the services he needed. We were able to get him into private occupational and speech therapy right away. He began attending biweekly Early Intervention playgroups. I became active in learning about the SPD diagnosis and learning techniques to build a sensory diet to keep him on a more even keel at home. Our whole family made an effort to understand SPD so that they could interact with our son in a way that is comfortable for him.

It has been nearly a year since Sensory Processing Disorder became part of our vocabulary and things aren’t nearly as scary now as they were in the beginning. Our son attends a typical preschool program (with an Individualized Education Plan) and he flourishes in his classroom. He has learned how to moderate some of his behaviors in order to interact appropriately with his peers. And he is a wonderful big brother to the newest addition to our family, another baby boy!

I hope that sharing our story can give hope to another family who may be in the beginning of their Sensory Processing Disorder journey. Our kids need and deserve all the support we can give them!


Street Talk

Jamie 1  

This article completely describes our 2 year old son. We are still in the process of trying to figure out the best sensory diet for him. But it's been difficult because he just isn't cooperative when it comes to OT. Fun or no fun, he knows that there is some sort of alterior motive to it and refuses to do any of it. even at home. Any suggestions?

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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