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Help for highly sensitive preschooler

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I haven't had my ds (almost 4) evaluated yet, but he exhibits many signs of having a sensory issue
- Complains about tags, labels, seams, anything that makes him uncomfortable
- Gets very upset if his clothes are even slightly wet
- Is bothered by noise and says everything is too loud
- Hardly eats anything and will never try new foods. He often spits out food that he has been chewing
- Cries and yells when you have to brush his teeth or wash his hair

The problem is that when he is bothered or upset about something, he often screams and freaks out about it instead of using words. I am trying to encourage him to just explain what is bothering him or ask for help, instead of yelling until someone fixes it. He has flipped out at school a few times and while his teachers are very understanding, I am worried that his behavior is not going to improve as the school year goes on.
I thought it might help him to learn how function in a different enviroment and follow different rules, but now I am worried that it is pointless because he is so young.
My dh thinks that his outbursts are just him being bratty b/c he is an only child who is used to being at home with mom doing what he wants whenever he wants it. He does understand ds' sensitivities, but feels like his behavior is more of a discipline issue.
I am concerned that it is something more b/c it seems like I cannot get through to him and teach him how to cope or respond. He reacts the same way no matter what-- water on his t-shirt, a child taking his toy, having to eat his lunch. It is bothering him and he wants it fixed now!!
I know that kids his age are still learning the ropes and have their moments, but other kids seem like they know how to act and respond.
I guess I just want to know if anyone has any suggestions. How can I help him to express himself without freaking out? I don't expect him to get over his issues, but I do want him to handle them in a better way.
Am I expecting too much from him?
Any help or ideas would be appreciated.
Thanks for reading this.
post #2 of 2

I think that in order for him to be able to express his needs in words, the sensory stuff first needs to be not so rough on him. The key to getting him to use his words is working with the sensory issues (an occupational therapist) AND then to catch the sensory issues BEFORE they become overwhelming to him. Once his in 'flip out' mode, it's too late. Then you have to deal with the chaos of the meltdown and mop up as best you can.

The other thing about sensory issues is that they're cumulative. So, something that might bother my ds just a little bit at 8 am when he's well fed and well rested becomes a MAJOR issue at 5 pm after a long day at school and before dinner.

Also, kids with sensory issues don't self regulate well - they have a very hard time calming themselves down once they get overwhelmed.

I would definitely do some reading - for you and dh if you can get him to do it. I would read: Sensational Kids - my first choice because it's researched based and it has some pretty concrete things you can do to help out your kids; Raising a Sensory Smart Child also has good suggestions and the Out of Sync Child is also good.

It's a mind shift, but if you (or probably more accurately your dh) can get past thinking that this behavior is willful, and look for the underlying cause, you'll find that your parenting shifts, and your ability to deal with this meltdowns shifts too. So, if you were wearing a shirt that had a pin left over from sewing, and it was poking you hard, what would you first do? You probably wouldn't say anything - you'd struggle to get the shirt off. Well, tags might well have the same 'feeling' to him. It's not just a little discomfort, it's MAJORLY uncomfortable. And if it's the 5th overwhelming thing of the morning?

I still struggle with this with my dh. Dh doesn't need to eat regularly. Ds does. And so, I often come home to find them at loggerheads with ds having a meltdown because he hasn't eaten in 3-4 hours, and dh complaining that he "needs to learn" x, y or z. I try to point out that he can't learn if he's too hungry and/or overstimulated. And then of course, 2 days later, I'm grumpy with ds because he's behaving badly because he's overwhelmed/hungry!
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