Talk to me about Sensory Processing Disorders - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 23 Old 07-11-2009, 10:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a very spirited, almost 3 year old boy. He's been a "high needs" sort of personality since the word go. A poor sleeper, sick with GERD as an infant, always craved being held/slinged. As a toddler he is high energy, very physical, a little better at sleeping - but definitely not a good sleeper, and extremely willful!

He was in daycare full time last year because I worked full time and was in the process of completing my dissertation. This spring I finished my PhD. and also lost my job in the same week. DS thrived at daycare and really enjoyed the social aspects of it, but we can no longer afford to send him more than one day each week. He still looks forward to preschool, but apparently he acts out a lot more. He has hit a teacher and even pulled a fire alarm! This week the DCP told me that she recommends getting an eval for our DS because he shows signs of a sensory perception disorder.

Unfortunately, my DH is very angry at the mention that there might be something "wrong" with our DS and totally denies that he may have it. On the other hand, I've always felt like there might be something different about our DS. My problems is, the only other children I am around are quite and agreeable little girls that are nothing like my boisterous boy. So it's hard to compare my son with other kids to get an idea of whether there might be something going on.

I really know nothing about this disorder. I want to get some perspectives from other mom's to gain a better understanding of what SPD is and whether or not my DS may have it. Here are some of the things he does that seem indicative of SPD, based on the limited research I have done and what the DCP told me:
-plays with door knobs and light switches
-sucks on hands and fingers or clothes
-is irritated by tags on clothes
-puts things in his mouth
-likes to play with sand, water, and playdough
-rarely sits still
-plays with his fingers
-stomps feet and dances around while "walking" (think Monte Python's silly walks)
-kicks feet while sitting
-bangs toys and slliverware
-loves to wrestle
-loves to push strollers and carts
-pushes too hard with crayons and pencils
-often does things with too much force
-highly aware of sounds and always asks me "what was that?"
-sings and makes silly noises all day long
-sometimes doesn't respond to name (I don't know if this is a stubbornness thing)
-highly aware of smells and often comments on them
-complains about brightness of the sun
-rarely makes full eye contact unless he wants something
-is poor at identifying colors
-often clumsy and misjudges distances
-slow at learning to talk
-poor at falling asleep
-bad at regulating his excitement and gets over stimulated easily
-often gets wound up just before bedtime
-is terrible at changing from one activity to another - often results in meltdowns
-rarely plays be himself
-impulsive and frequently yells
-is not good at soothing himself and meltdowns often escalate to vomiting and/or screaming for 1/2 hour or more

I greatly appreciate your feedback.
-S
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#2 of 23 Old 07-11-2009, 11:33 PM
 
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i think an evaluation would make perfect sense. and in the meantime, there are lots of good books that may give you a better sense of what may be going on. lots of people start with "out of sync child," but there are tons you can read about on amazon.
a couple of questions - how are his social skills? how is his communication - is he verbal, and does he use nonverbal cues to communicate (pointing, waving, etc)?
it's easy to want to reassure ourselves and push things off "a little longer," but it's great that you're really aware of some potential challenges in your little guy's life. please keep us posted.
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#3 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 12:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the response. His social skills are pretty good. He's been around other kids very early on. He is an attention seeker. He always wants to be the center of attention with adults and other children and is a clown sometimes or acts out (in bad ways) in order to get it. He was slow to start talking, but I think his verbals skills are pretty decent now. He has some trouble forming different letter sounds. But he showed initiative to communicate pretty early and was pointing and doing some signs by 10 months. He was a littler slower to wave and clap, more like 14 months.
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#4 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 12:40 AM
 
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before he turns three, you can contact your local early intervention folks and request an eval. also, you can have your pediatrician write a referral for an eval through an OT - but i'd look for someone who knows something about SPD.
and even more than any eval, i think reading can really be helpful. i don't know what things you already do in daily life, but there really are so many things you may be able to do to make your son's life move along a little more smoothly. not that that means all the bumps go away , but it really helps.
there are a million wise SPD mamas here on the board, so please hang around.
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#5 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 01:13 AM
 
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I think that age 2, it's really hard to tell whether you're seeing normal toddler variation of an intense, highly sensitive child or whether you're seeing sensory processing disorder. I've got two highly sensitive kids, one who has SPD and one who doesn't. While I had inklings that ds (my SPD kid) was more extreme in his reactions at 2-3 (like NEVER going without socks), a lot of the things you list also apply to my sensitive kid (who doesn't have SPD) such as smell sensitivity, wrestling, pushing heavy things, being irritated by tags.

The question is: How much do you think his sensitivities are impacting his daily life? We didn't get occupational therapy for our ds until he just turned 5, when his fine motor delays didn't resolve, and when his inability to switch clothes with the seasons and his fear of noises began restricting where he would go. I don't think we 'lost' anything by waiting.

At a point in time when he needed help, he got help, and he was still young enough to be able to reorganize his brain. Example: I have never, ever seen my dh go barefoot. (Yes, he has SPD too.) About a week ago, ds put some socks on because it was unusually cold, and he said "gosh, I don't think I've worn socks for weeks!" Dh responded "I don't think I've ever said that."

I would recommend several books to read:
The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron. Whether or not your son has SPD, he certainly is more sensitive than usual, and this book is a really good book that will help whether or not he has SPD.

Sensational Kids by Lucy Jane ******. I think this is the best book I've read about SPD. I particularly like it because it has ideas for a lot of things you can do at home/every day life to ease the way for sensory kids. Most kids would probably benefit from these things whether or not they have SPD.

The Out of sync Child by Carol Kranowitz. This is shorter and an easier read than Sensational Kids but isn't as good for what to do. It's a good book to start with if you're wondering if your kid has SPD.

Living with an Active Alert Child by Linda Budd. The title pretty much says it all. Interestingly, my SPD kid didn't actually fit this description, whereas my non-SPD kid does.

Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. This is a good book for parents of intense children.

The Emotional Life of the Toddler. This book is mostly about temperament, and it gives you a good sense of the range of typical in terms of development. Three is kind of a transition year between toddlerhood and childhood. (Note too that if you read the Gentle Discipline and Parenting forums, you'll find a LOT of issues with 3 year olds. Just because your 3 year old is a pain in the butt doesn't mean they're atypical .)

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#6 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 02:17 PM
 
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Honestly? I think almost all kids these days have some sort of sensory issue. I think the question is, does his sensory issues affect his day to day in a limiting way?

Half the list she gave you is completely age appropriate for him and other children that age. (and a couple even contradict themselves and a few aren't SPD related) Is that saying nothing is going on? No, only you would know the extend of the behaviors and how they affect him throughout the day. If it makes you feel better to get an evaluation, then go for it.

I setup my classroom and teach under the assumption that all the kids in my class will have some sort of sensory issue and keep that in the forefront of my mind. Asking a preschooler or especially a toddler to sit still is asking too much. Instead she should be looking at ways to allow the children to move during group time that is not distracting. For example, if I have a child that is overly wiggly I throw out a carpet square. They can move and wiggle as much as they want on it as long as they don't move off it. This way they aren't bumping into other children or wiggling out of the group. (which is funny, when the kids are playing teacher one of their favorite things to do is toss out carpet squares now)
-I also give the children fidgets to hold onto during group time and they keep them for the duration of group as long as they follow basic rules of not throwing or disturbing other children with them.
-Pressing hard with crayons if really typical, we now buy twistables for our classroom. They don't break when the kids push too hard.
-Singing and making noises. The over all noise of a classroom can be very noisy and distracting for a lot of kids. To make up for it they sing or make their own noises. To combat this I keep a mix of kids music playing in the classroom. I find that the "noisy" kids tend to just sing along with it instead of making other random noises. I also limit noise in the classroom by putting loud games in our large muscle room and put headphones on the computer instead of speakers.
-Sand, water and playdough are staples at that age! I go through so much playdough making supplies that its silly! My husband gets mad at me for using so much flour and salt at home, lmao. Its the only time we buy koolaide too. Koolaide playdough is the best! It adds smell to the list of sensory perceptions they get form playdough.

My point is, at this age (toddler/preschool) a HUGE portion of how kids learn is through sensory play and experiences. If a child wasn't showing these things I'd be more worried.

As a preschool teacher the only time I am concerned with a child and bring it up to a parent is if the actions are harmful to the child or other children or they are greatly interfering with his day to the point of him not being able to participate.

For example, my DS was diagnosed first with SPD between age 2 and 3 years. But it was for doing things like actual breaking of household items (windows, pictures etc) during sensory seeking, hitting himself, me (I was covered in bruises) and his sisters because he didn't have the "soft touch" self-regulation, he couldn't be around other kids because he could easily hurt them, wouldn't use the bathroom because of the noise of the toilet, screamed continuously but then got mad if anyone else was talking or made noises, preferred to be naked because clothes sent him into meltdowns, only eat certain foods because of textures... and on and on. These are things that limited his activities and how his day progressed, they pretty much halted everyone's day.

I'm not saying your child doesn't have sensory issues, just saying that I wouldn't worry as much about it or get scared that he isn't "normal" etc. I hope that helps understand SPD a bit more?

Mom to Joscelyne 14, Andrew 12, and Mackenzie 10 and wife to Nate.
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#7 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, thanks, thanks for all your comments and advice. I really appreciate hearing from other mama's and getting a better picture of what SPD looks like in toddlers. Unfortunately, DS turns three in only a few weeks. I looked into getting a free eval, but they wouldn't do it since it was too close to his birthday. I've made an appointment with his Ped, but that isn't until mid August.

I also made contact with a local mama who has a boy with SPD, to meet and talk to her about her and her son's experience. And I signed up for a free workshop offered by a nearby university in September. I will check out the books you recommended too.

I really want to lean more so that I can either get the help DS needs, or be educated enough to deal with DCP's and teachers who don't understand DS. From what some of your described, my DS's reactions don't seem quite as extreme as SPD, but he may be more extreme than the average kiddo...if that makes sense.

Thanks again and keep it coming!
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#8 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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Thanks for the reading list. Looks good for lots of spirited toddlers.
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#9 of 23 Old 07-12-2009, 08:45 PM
 
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your DS might or might not have an actual sensory disorder.... many toddlers are sensory seeking and many grow out of it. it's when they don't grow out of it that it can be considered a disorder.

even if your DS doesn't have a disorder it doesn't mean he doesn't have sensory issues. kids with sensory issues can benefit from a sensory diet, disorder or not.

just be careful who you get an eval from... we discovered even in a large city there were no sensory specialists. he had to go to a children's hospital in a different city for help. the best thing to do is educate yourself as much as possible and then you will know what will be helpful and what won't.

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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#10 of 23 Old 07-13-2009, 01:20 AM
 
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Many things on your list of his behaviors/traits may be normal toddler behavior or may be signs of SPD. There were things my son did from the time he was a little baby that always seemed "off" or like "quirks". It wasn't until he got a little older that I started to learn about SPD, got the evaluation, etc. We had his eval done around the time he was 4.5, and I wish we had done it sooner. We are getting great help, and a learning a lot more about him, and wish we had all of this information/help sooner. I am sorry your DH is upset by the suggestion that something is "wrong" with your son. In connecting with other parents who are dealing with this, it seems to be common that the dads initially respond with denial (even my dad, DS's grandpa, couldn't accept it at first). Not sure why, or if it is just the dads we have gotten to know, but interesting. Finally, listen to your gut - if you feel like something is different, you are probably onto something. While none of us want to label our kids, it has been so helpful for us to get a clear definition of what his issues are and help in dealing with them.
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#11 of 23 Old 07-20-2009, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bumping for more :
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#12 of 23 Old 07-20-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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Even if this is something he may grow out of, he is definately seeking input (stomping, crashing, banging, turning the light on and off) and also avoiding (tags and that kind of stuff) so even if you don't go for an eval, the info in The Out of Sync Child and The Out of Sync Child Has Fun would be helpful just to get him through this period. He and you will feel a lot better if he can get the input he needs and also maybe some strategies for the dealing with the stuff he's sensitive to. Good Luck!

Sarah, unschooling musician mama to Ella (12/24/00) , Aurora (1/31/04) and Hazel (1/30/07) (agenesis of the corpus colosum, large interhemispheric cyst, macrocephaly, shunt). homeschool.gif bfolderchild.gif familybed1.gifguitar.gif
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#13 of 23 Old 07-21-2009, 01:24 AM
 
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My son has some sensory-seeking behaviors, never enough for a diagnosis, I don't think, but for us it is health issue. We don't consume gluten or dairy, and there are a few other foods that he reacts to as well, in more minor ways. For us, I can see that my health is related to his, and we need improvement, so I mostly view our situation through that lens. For us it's related to toxic load, metals he got from me. My daughter manifests this stuff very, very differently, but it's a family affair for us.
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#14 of 23 Old 07-21-2009, 10:03 AM
 
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i should add here that my DS was "different" from birth. he was a very high needs, fussy baby. (actually before birth even, my experience with him during pregnancy was very different than my DD's pregnancy... he spend 20 weeks kicking the crap out of me, was so active that i felt beat up inside a lot of the time... compared to DD, it was VERY different) anyway, he was a marathon nurser, couldn't be away from me (even in someone else's arms) for more than 10 or 15 minutes, was a horrible napper and i can't imagine how terrible things would have been if we didn't co-sleep and AP him. i wore him in a sling, he slept on me, and when i was sleeping, DH swaddled him and "swung" him. it was a rough 5 months. then he kinda "woke" up and started seeing things and sitting up and was a happy baby as long as i stayed very very close. taking a shower or changing the laundry in the basement was out of the question.

food was an issue right from the start. he started pretty late, ate mooshed up food from a spoon for 5 weeks, and then started feeding himself. even by his first birthday he was grossed out by gooey things and refused his cupcakes. by 18 months he started really resisting things like getting dressed, leaving the house and was having HUGE tantrums. he also started having frequent night terrors. i thought he was just being like his dad (who we later realized has SPD also), and didn't think anything was "wrong"... we just thought he was "weird" or "quirky."

we have always just done the best we could to parent him in a respectful, unconditional way. when i finally realized what was wrong (at 5), a lot of what we read we were already doing with him. the piece we were missing was the heavy work. now that we have done that part, we cope okay with him. he still has a reflexive NO, eats a very small variety of foods, and has a lot of trouble sleeping, but all in all he doesn't break my heart like he used to. our focus now is on him taking care of himself and understanding what his own sensory needs are. it's not easy for a 7 yo.

but yes, i knew my lil man was different from the very beginning, it just took some time to figure out what is was.

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#15 of 23 Old 07-21-2009, 11:18 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Kristine233 View Post
Honestly? I think almost all kids these days have some sort of sensory issue. I think the question is, does his sensory issues affect his day to day in a limiting way?
Really, I think that just about every single person has some level of "sensory issues." Really. I remember conversations between adults where people talk about sensations -- sounds or touches or views -- that they just can't stand. One person revealed that the sensation of wet wood squicks her -- she can't stir a pot with a wooden spooon because of that soft squeakiness. Someone else never uses her laundry room light because the color and slight flicker just rub her the wrong way. Someone said the "glub blork" noise of a drainign bathtub makes their skin crawl...

Everyone has at least a few "sensory areas." And most of us have, unconsciously, developed coping mechanisms and workarounds for ours.

In some kids, for some reason, there are so many of these issues that they get in the way of daily life -- of communicating and getting dressed and learning new things. Some kids have so many that they can't come up with coping mechanisms, or they can't cope with more than one of them at once, because it is like the whole world is one big issue.

So I don't think an evaluation would hurt, but I think a lot of thigns on your list are pretty normal toddler things. I also think that maybe some version of the explanation above might help your DH see that there is nothing "wrong" with your DS in the way he thinks.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#16 of 23 Old 07-21-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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In some kids, for some reason, there are so many of these issues that they get in the way of daily life -- of communicating and getting dressed and learning new things. Some kids have so many that they can't come up with coping mechanisms, or they can't cope with more than one of them at once, because it is like the whole world is one big issue.
it's a little more complicated than this for people with SPD.. probably because you think of "sensory" as just the 5 senses. actually there are 9 areas affected in people with SPD... apraxia and propreceptive dysfunction is much more disabling than being squicked out by certain noises, touches or smells. esp. for kids who have combinations of issues. and of course there is the whole emotional aspect too.

frankly, though, the hardest thing for us has always been how others react to DS' sensory needs. other people's disrespectful attitudes and the inability to acknowledge that everyone has unique needs is the biggest challenge with SPD.

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#17 of 23 Old 07-21-2009, 02:11 PM
 
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it's a little more complicated than this for people with SPD.. probably because you think of "sensory" as just the 5 senses. actually there are 9 areas affected in people with SPD... apraxia and propreceptive dysfunction is much more disabling than being squicked out by certain noises, touches or smells. esp. for kids who have combinations of issues. and of course there is the whole emotional aspect too.

frankly, though, the hardest thing for us has always been how others react to DS' sensory needs. other people's disrespectful attitudes and the inability to acknowledge that everyone has unique needs is the biggest challenge with SPD.
Yeah, I do know that. I have a kid with SPD whose main issues are proprioceptive and visual-motor, and a family full of people who say "Oh, yeah, I always felt like that too!" when I describe DS's issues to them.

Actually, I think those other sensory issues are more common than they are given credit for too. How many people have just been written off as "Really clumsy" or "No good at sports" who probably have some level of disfunction in that area.

The issue with people dx'd with SPD is that in their case, the combination of sensory issues is enough to rise to the level of disability, where disability is definied functionally as things that interfere with the activities of daily living.

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#18 of 23 Old 07-22-2009, 09:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i should add here that my DS was "different" from birth. he was a very high needs, fussy baby. (actually before birth even, my experience with him during pregnancy was very different than my DD's pregnancy... he spend 20 weeks kicking the crap out of me, was so active that i felt beat up inside a lot of the time... compared to DD, it was VERY different) anyway, he was a marathon nurser, couldn't be away from me (even in someone else's arms) for more than 10 or 15 minutes, was a horrible napper and i can't imagine how terrible things would have been if we didn't co-sleep and AP him. i wore him in a sling, he slept on me, and when i was sleeping, DH swaddled him and "swung" him. it was a rough 5 months. then he kinda "woke" up and started seeing things and sitting up and was a happy baby as long as i stayed very very close. taking a shower or changing the laundry in the basement was out of the question.
This sounds exactly like my DS. He kicked me constantly too! I could feel his little legs kicking as early as 4 months into the pregnancy and it didn't stop until he was born! There were so many times that first year that I thought I was going to die from sleep deprivation, really. The kid only slept in 15 minute increments while on me. No one else would do. And he nurse pretty much non-stop until 11 months old. Since he's my first and only child, I didn't know that there was anything really different about him. I just knew that parenting was a whole lot harder than I expected and that my DS was a "difficult" or "high-needs" sort of kid.
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#19 of 23 Old 07-23-2009, 08:50 AM
 
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yeah, i had never heard the term "high needs." somewhere around 10 months someone i knew had a baby and she was a handful and everyone started saying "high needs" and recommended dr sears' site and i was like "OH, that's *my* kid." i thought it was just normal and we parented him as best we could. we even used the basket system before i had even heard of ross green and the explosive child. it has been really helpful to understand what is really happening with him. it doesn't always make it easy, but it makes it easier.

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#20 of 23 Old 09-18-2009, 10:33 PM
 
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I know it's been a while since this thread was active, but I just wanted to share I found a great website that has a full evaluative list, and a huge list of "heavy work" activities that has already been so helpful for me with my son. I am awaiting evaluation with my son, but the evaluative list was really helpful to see what type of SPD my son may have and the activities were similar to things he was already trying but we tried to keep him from them as they were destructive. Now we can fulfill his sensory needs in more productive/appropriate ways ie. instead of him tearing apart the couch cushions in order to get the deep pressure he craves, we have started giving him tight hugs and cuddles. As a heavy work activity this afternoon we played tug of war and HE LOVED IT! So even if we are wrong about SPD, a tight hug and tug of war never hurt anyone! I am even in the process of making him a weighted blanket (6 lbs) to hopefully help him sleep better.

As for your husband's concern about thinking something is wrong with your child...my thinking is that my son is already having trouble in preschool with his peers and following directions due to his impulsivity and desire to be way too close physically. So if we get him evaluated and find something, it's a lot easier to get help from teachers in addition to the changes we are hoping to see from the occupational therapy. I'd rather him get this "label" and get him the help he needs instead of do nothing and have him simply labelled as a bad kid. Also, your husband may be interested to know that SPD is frequently linked to high intelligence levels.

http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com
these are the two pages I mentioned.
http://www.sensory-processing-disord...checklist.html
http://www.sensory-processing-disord...ctivities.html

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#21 of 23 Old 09-19-2009, 10:08 AM
 
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thanks so much! DS has been a real handful lately and i think i need to up his heavy work!

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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#22 of 23 Old 09-19-2009, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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milkmamamerina, thanks for thinking of me and my DS. I am so grateful.

We've actually finally made a little progress on getting a diagnosis. DS has been observed twice by a psychologist at preschool. After the second observation, he told me that he thinks that some of my DS's bad behavior is related to an overload in sensory input. DH and I think that it likely that DS is a sensory seeker. The psychologist is going to observe him a few more times at school and at home...The good news is that we are getting closer to getting a referral to an OT, finally!
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#23 of 23 Old 12-14-2009, 06:27 PM
 
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Nevermind, found what I needed

Tina - mama to DD1 10yrs, DD2 5.5 yrs and DD3 22 mo and wifey to DH.
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