How to parent a child with SPD - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-08-2010, 03:19 PM - Thread Starter
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So my son is 4 and is currently being treated in OT for SPD.

I'm kinda at my edge of knowledge of what to do for behavioral problems.

I've read most of the gentle discipline books (and I have a few to read, waiting for me on my piano, when I get a chance). My biggest struggle is to "break into his world" and catch his attention to stop undesirable behavior (hurting others, running away, not listening, etc.)

I've tried adjusting my expectations of him, which works to an extent--but when he's hurting someone, or placing himself in danger, I have a hard time not yelling.

I try everything in my power to stop the behavior before it happens (so preventative: like making sure he's not hungry, giving him lots of sensory activities--but not too many, redirection, distraction, etc.).

I'm just hoping someone has experience or knowledge of how to parent a child with SPD (sensory seeker--though defensive in many things as well) who is determined and high-needs and...oh, any ideas or thoughts on how to parent a child without stepping outside of positive/gentle discipline?
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#2 of 8 Old 02-08-2010, 03:57 PM
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subbing. No answers a similar situation, I think.
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#3 of 8 Old 02-08-2010, 04:17 PM
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I'm no expert on all the "right" things to do, but first son has mild SPD among other things. We thought it was all cleared up and better from about 24 mos to 3.5 or soo...but he's 4.5 now, and it's not.

Some things that have worked for us:

Diet changes--really, seriously...without gluten, msg, aspartame, and food dyes, his SPD behaviors are much, much less and he can learn and focus much better.

Getting on his level--eye to eye--and touching him gently to get him to focus in on us. He also has an auditory processing issue, so this helps w/that, too.

Not overdoing the "discipline" such as timeouts, etc. Honestly, the less I subscribe to all that, the better he does.

Baby crying--be back!

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#4 of 8 Old 02-09-2010, 01:22 AM
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My son has SPD.

The thing that worked most for us was when I stopped looking at it as "discipline" (or lack there of), and started to believe that he was always doing his best. I also grew calmer (modeled what I wanted him to experience), and balanced trying to foresee triggers while not expecting poor reactions to environment. I also really, really tried to stop caring what others might think (you don't mention this in your post, but this was a real problem for me and escalated both my son and I).

DD's started watching the Dog Whisperer, and I realized a lot of what he's talking about is what I did/do with my son. I'm confident in my leadership and project calm.

My son is finally outgrowing his raging impulsiveness, which has helped immensely. He had SPD and impulsivity, rather than just SPD. This is an important distinction, because SPD has a sensory base, whereas impulsivity in more a thinking issue (executive function/control) and may require different strategies.

Specific strategies that worked for us, in addition to what you've listed (ie sleep, food etc):
-communicate by touch first to bring him to focus, then speak shortly and clearly
-provide sensory input that meets his need (either heavy work or firm back rubs in our case)
-role playing, clear rules and guidelines, debrief, debrief, debrief (but my son's very verbal) because we can learn from this time for the next time (or many times after that!!).

I also took responsiblity when he clearly couldn't (ie "I see you need help stopping that. I will help you." said calmy and with hands to gently guide him away. Executive function is not fully operational with most SPD kids, and they need you to act as their CEO sometimes when they've lost the ability to.

I also used 1-2-3 then time-in. I ONLY used this for the biggies. Time in was with an adult beside him, waiting to talk until he'd regained some control. There's a clear point when there's no higher order thinking happening and there's no point in even trying to communicate (this is when they're crying, manic talking or hyped out etc). I used to try to work through it when he was in this state. Now, I rub his back firmly, sympathize ("that was hard!" or "I know, that hurt!"), and only when he's calmed down attempt to discuss. He always has to make it right, by checking in with the other person (so often his sister).

We started the above at around 3-3.5. I can look back and see steady progress. Now, if I say the word "1" he stops whatever he's doing - because he knows I only use it for the important things and he now has the impulse control. The last time in was last summer while on vacation when he was all out of sorts.

GD reflects the value of meeting a kid where they're at. If you're dealing with a kid whose internal sensory world is chaotic, GD is going to look different than if you're dealing with a kid who's not swinging from the ceiling .

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#5 of 8 Old 02-10-2010, 03:33 AM
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Originally Posted by joensally View Post

GD reflects the value of meeting a kid where they're at. If you're dealing with a kid whose internal sensory world is chaotic, GD is going to look different than if you're dealing with a kid who's not swinging from the ceiling .
well put!!! i think weall need to hear this sometimes. it's so hard to not care what others think of you and your child/parenting choices etc, especially when it' close friends or relatives. strangers? who cares! but when "aunt sue" or great grandma says something negative it can cut so deep you know?

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#6 of 8 Old 02-10-2010, 11:49 AM
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Thanks for this thread! It's really helpful for me right now. I wish my discipline approach was more organized. Your post made a lot of sense, joensally. I've been tightly hugging ds (who is 6) when he needs to calm down and it really helps. This morning I just kept saying that I was a boa constrictor and he was a deer and when he wanted to run away I said "oh, the deer got away". It was like a game and a calming thing. I don't know where it came from because he had just been flashing the light in my eyes and I felt like yelling but I managed to change gears and it worked.
It's really tough!
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#7 of 8 Old 05-02-2013, 10:46 AM
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I am currently trying to figure out how to parent a four year old boy with spd...I must say reading this thread has helped me more than anything else I have read.  You can find information about what SPD is but not how to handle children with the problem. Thank you all for the great info...keep it coming:)!

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#8 of 8 Old 05-11-2013, 09:23 AM
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Also at a bit of a loss.

My oldest has Asperger's.  We are waiting for a diagnosis of ADHD, SPD, APD, etc.

My 3 year old is going to be evaluated for a Spectrum disorder.  He seems to also have ADHD, SPD, and APD.  He is also almost non-verbal.


I have been able to read The Five Love Languages of Children, which gave me some super valuable insight that I was lacking previously.  Things have gotten a bit better in my home since my perceptions have changed a bit.  Since reading the book I have definitely identified a lot of things that can influence my 3 year old's moods and behavior, which has been priceless!  While I have seen a teeny bit of progress with my 6 year old, there is still so much that I don't understand and his behaviors are a serious stress on our family.


The concept of "time-in", anyone tell me more?  Heard it mentioned various places, but I am having a hard time understanding the concept I guess.  We stopped using time-outs for just about everything over the past few months.  I only find it to be effective in very specific situations, after handling those situations with other means first.

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